Business planning means identifying your strengths and values as a designer – to guide the choices you make professionally including which skills you develop, and how you promote these skills to potential collaborators/employers. Making a business plan might seem pointless given how unpredictable our work can be, but making a plan is a useful way of managing this unpredictability, and of giving us a more objective perspective on our career path.
Your business plan is your road map to what you want to achieve, how you aim to achieve it, and in what timeframe. Refer to it frequently as a reference point when making decisions.
Your business plan should be a living document that is reviewed and updated at least once a year.
Your business plan could set out:
- What you can offer: your skills and professional points of difference
- Your ‘value proposition’. This is a short, simple statement that summarises why a client would choose you as a designer, or use your services
- Your current position: professionally, financially, creatively
- Targeted areas of skills development
- Professional goals – within established timeframes
- Markers that help you recognise how close you are to achieving each goal
- Other professionals you use as a ‘benchmark’
- Mission, Vision, Values
- Marketing plan – your website is crucial.
- Budget and cashflow forecast
- SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats)
Your plan can be quite simple, but it needs to set some clear goals, timeframes for each goal, and clear measurable indicators of how you are going in reaching each goal.
For live performance designers business planning indicators might include:
- Your income: this might be measured as an hourly rate against the hours that you actually work, or measured in terms of cash flow, or average fee per project.
- The number of interviews or reach-outs you make in a year that lead to a work offer
- The number of work offers received over a year
- The percentage of offers coming from sectors that align with your goals
- Whether your professional ‘benchmark’ has stayed the same or gone up/down
- Job satisfaction – the percentage of jobs that ‘worked for you’ – were satisfying creatively, emotionally… you might want to give each project a star rating so you can quantify this very subjective indicator.
Indicators should be measured within a convenient, consistent period of time – 6 months or 1 year, or 5 years for longer-term business planning. Document your goals and indicators as clearly as possible, so when you review the plan in twelve months you will be able to measure your progress.
- Strategyzer – Useful free business planning tools and videos
- Creative Plus Business will help you write and carry out your business plan
- Business.gov.au – Government support for businesses in Australia
- Guide to starting a new business – Australian Government site (business.gov.au)
- Auspicious Arts – this private arts company has good, user-friendly live performance-focused resources and a recommended newsletter for artists
- Creating New Income – a toolkit to support creative practice. There you will find guides and resources to help generate revenue for your creative practice. The Toolkit is designed for creative practitioners and small to medium organisations and Create NSW has taken a ‘how to’ approach to each topic, detailing steps needed to grow and develop income streams from sources such as philanthropy, sponsorship….
- Victorian Business Support – State Government support
- NSW Business Support – State Government support
- Queensland Business Support – State Government support
- South Australian Business Support – State Government support
- West Australian Business Support – State Government support
- Northern Territory Business Support – Territory Government support