Business Planning for Creatives: Write Your Business Plan and Elevator Pitch | Faye Brown | Skillshare

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Business Planning for Creatives: Write Your Business Plan and Elevator Pitch

teacher avatar Faye Brown, Faye Brown Designs

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Introduction to class


    • 2.

      Why do I need a business plan?


    • 3.

      Getting started


    • 4.

      The 9 step business plan


    • 5.

      Writing your Executive Summary


    • 6.

      Next Steps


    • 7.

      Writing your Elevator Pitch


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About This Class

The class is aimed at all of us running small creative businesses and freelancers. It will help you write a mini business plan. Your business plan will help you keep focused on your goals and everything you need to do to reach them. You will write an elevator pitch which will help you explain your business easily to other people.

Included in the class is a FREE downloadable 14 page business plan template for you to complete through-out the class. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Faye Brown

Faye Brown Designs

Top Teacher


Hey Everyone! Thank you for checking out my classes here on Skillshare. I’m a designer and animator living in the English countryside with my young family. After completing a Graphic Design degree in Bournemouth, I started my career working in London in motion graphics designing and art directing title sequences for TV and film. 10 years later I decided it was time to go freelance, shortly before we started our family. 

These days I work on a variety of projects focusing on my passions of typography and branding. Following the success of my first Skillshare class - The Art of Typography I’ve created a range of classes all aimed to help you guys in different areas of design, typography, branding, creativity, photography and freelancin... See full profile

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1. Introduction to class: Hello and welcome to this class, the mini business plan. This class is aimed to all of you who are setting up a small business and particularly creative businesses. Or maybe you already run a small business or work for yourself and you just need a little bit more focus and direction. So let me introduce myself for any of you who haven't taken my previous classes. My name is Faye Brown and I'm a designer, an animator, and online teacher from the UK. In one of my previous classes on Skillshare, I asked the students what they would most like to see a class on and writing a business plan that came up. So this is how this class has happened and it's really important step in any business. So whilst a lot of my other classes have focused on branding your businesses, writing a business plan should be included with any new venture. By following the steps in this class, you will have a mini business plan plus a 60-second elevator pitch. What's an elevator pitch? Well, the term that comes from imagining that you are taking an elevator ride and you have 60 seconds to pitch your business idea or tell someone exactly what you do and what your business is about. Maybe you're looking for investment and you need to pitch your business idea to someone. Maybe you need a good introduction for networking events, or maybe you do this class is it's actually a really useful exercise for your own goals and aspirations. So by writing your elevator pitch, you'll get to know your business that little bit better. You can download and print off at the business plan pack that we will fill out together throughout each step of this class. So if you need that little extra push getting your business to the next level, then this class is for you. 2. Why do I need a business plan?: Why do you need a business plan? Well, business plans are usually used to help secure financial backing from a sponsor, or investor, or loan from a bank. They help you to define your business and have a clear plan for how to grow your business and make money, but business plans are also really good exercise for helping you get your own focus and direction for moving your business forward, helping you set goals, and helping you think about your unique offering and your key product or service. A business plan is an essential part of a successful business. However, that's a really detailed account of every element of your business, whether it's on a smaller scale. This class helps you take those first steps to create a business plan. It's not as daunting as it sounds. If we start simply, we can just add other elements to our business plan as our business develops. I'll provide you with some really useful links and resources for taking your business plan to another level, but we will start by outlining and figuring out the key points of your business. As creative people, you might find yourself wearing a lot of different hats. For example, I'm a freelance graphic designer. I work a lot in branding and illustration projects. Before going freelance, I had a career in motion graphics. Over the last few years, I teach a lot of online classes. I also run an Etsy shop coordinates principles. So it can be hard to stay focused when you have a few of these things going on. By writing a business plan for each element of your business, you can help stay on track. In all honesty, I've struggled to keep on track with my Etsy shop and I've let it slide whilst other projects and jobs are taken off. But it's something that I'm still really passionate about and feel could be successful if I set myself some goals. As we work through this class together, I will be using these principles as my example. When you write your business plan, try to write it genuinely, don't worry about it sounded like a big CEO of some corporate business. Be true to yourself and show your personality whilst trying to keep it professional. Let's get started. Print out the business plan pack that comes with this class. I've kept their design super-simple and unbranded. You can recreate this more on brand with your own business or feel free to add drawings and doodles if that's what helps you get the creativity flowing. 3. Getting started: Getting started. So the first page of your business plan pack is where you will write your elevator pitch, but we aren't going to start here. Your elevator pitch should be a summary of all the key points we will now go through. So it's often easiest to write this at the end. Whenever I start to write a business plan or goals for an area of my business, I often feel pretty uninspired. I look at everything I need to think about and don't know where to start. There's a lot of crossover with all the elements we need to think about, and as a creative person, sitting down and typing paragraphs doesn't always work for me. As any previous students know I do like a good old mind dump or brainstorm, so writing down keywords or phrases can help you sort through them to build a more coherent paragraphs and sentences. Use these pages from your pack to start writing down these keywords and phrases for each section of your business plan. We will build on each section and edit as we go through the class. Don't worry what you write here, nothing is set in stone. It's just a way of getting all your thoughts down without overthinking it. Then once you've gone through all of these things, you can then fill in the sheets for each section with a little bit more detail. Now, alternatively, some of you might prefer to do this in the form of a brainstorm or spider's web. If so, grab a relatively big piece of paper or card and write your business name in the center along with a strap line or mission statement, don't worry if you don't have that figured out yet, and then take each heading from these pages in the brown pack and write them around the page. 4. The 9 step business plan: Let's look at the why. Write down why your business exists. Try to cover what problem your business solves and what solution you are offering. What makes you unique. This can be really hard. Sometimes businesses are grown out for passion. Misprintables, certainly is. I wanted to create fun, wild signed art and activities for children to easily print off at home. But the idea was initially born out of my son playing with his toy kitchen and all the cardboard shop packaging we had bought constantly getting squashed. So I thought, ''Let's make something that we can print off time and time again'', also helping the kids learn about 3D shapes. Try to find your angle here with what problem you're solving. Or maybe your business has grown out of something very personal, like a life experience, and you want to help people in a similar situation. Talk about your motivation and passion behind your business and why you are in a unique position to do this. But try to always keep in mind the customer or client don't go on about you, but rather how your experiences led to this business that will help others for whatever reason. Saying I started Misprintables because I have a long-term goal of living off passive income is a selfish reason, and not really going to draw in the customers. Saying I started Misprintables to help families instantly download fun activities or app is answering a problem for many busy families who can't get to a shop easily, for instance. Your product or service. In this section be a little bit more detailed about what you are selling. Have you got key products or a key service? If you're a photographer, for instance, lists all the genres of photography that you specialize in, but maybe put your main one at the top, or the one that you'd most like to focus on. If you make jewelry, you don't need to list every product you currently sell, just more of an overview. Maybe you're a life coach or fitness instructor, so list out your key services to the clients. Next up is your target market. Hopefully, you have a good idea who your target market is. Who is your business aimed at? If you're unsure, then please hop on over to another bite sized class of mine that will help you really figure this out. This is important. Knowing your target market inside out will help you with all elements of your business planning. From how and where to market to them, what products or services they would most like to see, what their budget is, and you can be quite focused here. My shop won't appeal to every single family, for example, so be specific in terms of ages, genders, locations, interests, et cetera. Marketing. Knowing your target market well will help you with your marketing. In this section, list of a few key ways you are planning on marketing your business. How are you planning on selling your products or service? It's not good enough for me to say Etsy, for example. You have to figure out how you're going to plan to get your customers to see your shop on Etsy amongst the thousands of others. This has been a big learning curve for me. I originally thought I would build on my Facebook page, offer some freebies, discounts, et cetera, and get people to the shop that way, but very few of my actual Etsy sales have come via my Facebook page. I'll admit I've kind of given up on that avenue or little, but I shouldn't, as my Facebook page did prove successful at getting business via more bespoke personalized prints. Other marketing ideas I plan to try are getting features on blogs and in K magazines. As discussed, your marketing strategy might change and that's okay. You might plan to focus marketing on a certain social media site, but if that doesn't pan out, then have a backup plan. Your business plan can adapt and change it's just good to starting point, which brings us on to your social strategy. This is a pretty big subject as all of these are but by starting to think about each of these in their simplest forms, we don't get overwhelmed and give up before we've even started. For now, keep it simple but focused. Think really hard about your target market. How are you best going to attract them? Maybe it's on Instagram, maybe it's a YouTube video, or maybe your business would be better at focusing on Pinterest and gaining a following that way. So do your research and when you start using different social media platforms, analyze your results. What's working for you? Also, figure out what your main objective is. Is it to get sales? Is it to gain recognition, build relationships, drive traffic to a blog, build an e-mail list, et cetera? When you work out that, it will help you figure out a social strategy. What to post, when to post, hashtags to use, et cetera. But it's a big subject, so take small steps to start off. If you're completely new to social media, then you could check out this class of mine that will help you get started with that. Competitor research. You might think you have the most unique business out there, but let's be honest, there's probably someone doing something similar to you. Selling printable artwork on Etsy is certainly not unique. By doing some research into similar businesses, you will gain a lot of useful info. How can you make your business stand out or be a little bit different? What will set you apart? What's working for them? Maybe they are really successful on Facebook or Pinterest, so research them. Don't copy what they do, but take inspiration from it. Have you seen them featured in local or national magazines? How did they photograph their products? What are their weaknesses? How can you learn from that? Maybe their website doesn't look as good as the products they sell, for example. Think about their price point. Look at what they sell and the price, as compared to you. Will you be competitive on price or maybe you're offering something more bespoke and want to price it higher? To make this a little easier, I've included a competitor analysis page in the pack for you to fill in. Pick 2-4 businesses that you would see as competition and spend time looking at each one and their online presence as well. Or maybe they are more local. How does their craft store compare to yours, for example. Learn from what they do well and what they don't do so well. Threats. You might have heard of the term SWOT analysis, which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It's a good exercise to do when embarking on a business. Thinking about your internal factors, such as your strengths and weaknesses will help you promote your strengths and will help you figure out ways to work on your weaknesses, for example. There's crossover here with a lot of what we've already spoken about. Your opportunities can come under marketing in some instances. But I want you to take a moment to think about your threats. What could be the factors that mean your business doesn't succeed? Are there ways you can have a backup plan or protect yourself against any of those threats? My threat would be that Etsy is an overcrowded marketplace and my shop is like finding a needle in a haystack. So I could think of other ways to sell my products, for example. There are other sites I could think about. For you, you might have external threats, such as the cost of your materials to make a certain product suddenly going up in price. How will you deal with that? Think about your potential threats and how you would overcome it. I've also included the SWOT analysis page in the template, if you would like to explore that in more depth. Finances. When it comes to finances, you need to think about your initial outlays or operating costs. What will your start-up cost be? Do you need material, software? Are you paying employees? Then try to give yourself some projections. What would you like to make in the first three months, six months, 12 months, and then maybe in the future, think about two years, five years, et cetera. Having goals can give you something to aim for. For me, I started well with my Etsy shop and started reaching the targets I'd set myself, but I haven't shown much attention lately and have really seeing my sales go down. So I've included a separate finances sheet within the pack that will help you plot this in a little bit more detail. In the first section, I've chosen six months over the course of the next year as check-in points and how much I'd like to make each month. There will be some external factors to consider when forecasting your sales. If you're launching an online product, maybe it's not launching for another three months, so you'll need to start thinking about your year and when your products will be released. For me and the Misprintable shop, I always see a spike in sales around Christmas, so I hope to make more around that time. Then in the second section, I'm thinking more long-term. At the moment, I work part-time around a young family and have lots of other work commitments. When both my children are at school, I will have more time to devote to the shop, so we'll hope to figures can rise at this point. You might have other commitments you need to work around and plan around too, so take that all into account. If you'll go into a bank or an investor for money, they would want to see this in a lot more detail. I will post up a good link for this. Then again, I want to keep this class quite simple and not scare you too much. If you start with these first steps, you can build on them. Goals. I've saved the best until last. We've spoken about financial goals but sometimes talking about finances can feel a little corporate, even though we all need to make a living. In this section, I want you to write down your more personal goals for your business. Maybe it's to quit your day job and work on this business full time. Maybe it's to have a physical shop on your local high street. Or maybe you want your products to be sold in a certain shop within two years. Setting yourself goals can help you really stay motivated for your business, especially if it's a business you work on part-time around other jobs or families or commitments. If it helps, set yourself time periods like in one-year, in two years, in five years. It can change. In one year's time, your goals might have shifted a little bit. Maybe you're a little bit behind schedule or maybe you're further on schedule and your goals are going to change as your business develops. 5. Writing your Executive Summary: Congratulations. You've now completed the first step to your business plan. Now, next step is making sense of it all and then taking the main points to write your elevator pitch. In the business pack, you have all the pages you need to start writing your notes into more detailed paragraphs. Start with your business overview. These are just basic questions about your business. Then taking into account everything you've written in your notes and pages so far, fill in the executive summary questions. The answers for these can be short and succinct. Keeping it simple and focused is good, you don't have to get too flowery or descriptive. You can see my sample project and the project gallery. I've simply taken photos of each sheet and uploaded. Take a look at that if it helps. Let's walk through this a little. Your one-line pitch. Try to think of a simple one-line sentence to describe your business. This might become your mission statement or strap line. Then in the business summary, you can be a little bit more detailed. Again, keep this very clear and simple to read. Then answer the who are you question and what your previous experiences that led you to this business. All these answers will help you write the all-important elevator pitch. What's your inspiration? This can help people connect with you and your passion behind your business. What problem is your business solving? Remember what we spoke about earlier and be creative if you need to be. How do you solve that problem? What makes your business unique? Sometimes this is hard and it's hard to be truly unique in today's global markets. So think about what do you do differently to your competitors for this answer. Your financial summary. If you are taking a business plan to a bank or investor, they won't to know this information. But as we've discussed, it's also really important for you to help you keep on track and focused on your goals. Now, there's not all that much difference between an executive summary and an elevator pitch. We are basically going to take these answers now and write them into a more complete story that will become your elevator pitch. 6. Next Steps: Please do write up your elevator pitch, or take a photo of the page and upload it into the project gallery. Let us know if there was something you needed help with, and we can all pitch in with our thoughts. Any of you who have taken any of my other classes will know that I like to really engage with you guys so I do try to check out everyone's projects and make a comment. I will paste up some really great links in the discussions panel for anyone who would like to take their business plans a little bit further now. Or maybe you want to get a little bit more inspiration. I hope you found this class useful. Please do let me know how you get on, and hopefully see you in another class soon. 7. Writing your Elevator Pitch: Your elevator pitch can be used to introduce your business in a semi-formal way. Networking events for example, or maybe use it to describe what you do in less formal occasions or to potential clients. It should come across naturally and try to keep it to less than 60 seconds. It should be engaging for your listener and leave them knowing exactly what you do, but kind of wanting them to ask a little bit more about your business. It should be easy to understand, try to avoid it being a sales pitch. Take a look back through your notes and answers and highlight any key points that you want to get across in your elevator pitch. The way you word your elevator pitch will be slightly different depending on who you're talking to. Let's start with the premise that we are at a fun, creative networking events. Let's say you've already said hello and introduced yourself in a friendly way, and then someone asks you about your business. Then I will go into the pitch starting with a hook, a one-liner to get people interested. Miss Printables is an online shop dedicated to making family friendly products to inspire children's imagination. That's the hook. Now that person will be really interested to hear about these products and how they will do that. I will then talk about my inspiration for the business and a few of the products. The inspiration behind my business was my children. As I watched them play, I started to think about products that would help their learning through play. I used to buy the pretend food packaging from shops, but it was always getting squashed. The first product was a set of printable food packaging templates that you could simply print off at home as you needed. One of the other best sellers is a travel bingo game, which has kept my son and daughter entertained in the back of a car on long road journeys. In this paragraph, I've explained the problem and the solution, I've also explained my inspiration. Hopefully made that person feel a little bit more connected with me on a personal level. It's good to briefly mentioned your target market or audience too. The items are perfect for families with young children who like to encourage imaginative play, who also have a good eye for design. As a graphic designer myself, I feel really passionate about making sure each product is well-designed and desirable for both children and their parents. The files can be instantly downloaded and printed off at home, so really useful for any last minute activities or gifts. In that short paragraph, I've also given a little bit more background into my previous experience, and also about the quality of the product, and how easy it might be for a potential customer to buy and use the products. You could then try to incorporate a question into your pitch to engage the listener further. For example, have you ever been stuck for gift last minute and literally have no time to get to a real shop? Miss Printables has a range of wall art for children and adults that you can easily print off. One of the most popular is the Grandparents House Rules print, particularly popular around Christmas time. Now, if you are talking to a bank, you need to mention your competitors and financials to, but that might be a bit much for brief introduction of your business at a networking event, but you could talk about your long-term goals. The plan is to double the amount of products available in the shop within the next 12 months and work on the publicity so Miss Printables becomes the go-to place for printable art and activities. In that sentence, I've explained my goals and mentioned my weaknesses, [inaudible]. This might be something someone at a networking event could help with. When writing your elevator pitch, it's really important to always keep in mind who you are talking to. If it's an investor, you need to talk more about numbers and finances. If it's a potential customer, you need to talk more about the benefits to them. If it's a potential colleague, think about how they might be able to help you or vice versa. If you are writing an elevator pitch to motivate yourself, write about your goals and how you plan to follow them through. Try picking one recipient to start with, an investor or a customer, friend or colleague, or yourself. Write your elevator pitch, read it for a few times, don't try to learn it like a script though as that can sound a little bit sales-y and corporaty, be yourself and be natural. When you feel comfortable with your elevator pitch, try rewording it for someone different. You can use your elevator pitch in a variety of ways now, so maybe it's an introduction to your business on your website, or as part of your business literature. Maybe you print it out and have it up on your notes boards or help you keep on track when working on your business as a motivational tool.