We’ve all been in one of these stores — the sign on the building says Grocery, but you have to walk past beach balls, framed pictures for the bathroom, lawn chairs, car batteries, televisions, and a hundred other non-grocery items before you ever get to the groceries. Or maybe the sign says Gas and Groceries, but you can also buy minnows for fishing or an electric blanket to take up to the cabin. The “little bit of everything” business model makes more sense if the nearest town is 50 miles away. They are, otherwise, annoying. In the early stages of setting up and running a business, it’s important to focus.
In the first post in this series, Artist’s Plan for Success, I said you need to do two things before you write a business plan:
- Identify your product or services (make a list)
- Identify who you think your customer is — who wants the products or services you can provide?
In the second post in this series, A Business Plan for Artists, I said you need to do these two things:
- Identify potential income streams (how, where, and in what form will you sell your products or services? Will you sell online. have a storefront, or perhaps do both? Will you travel to craft or art shows? Will you take orders and then make the products?
- Research all the elements of your business plan (each potential stream), because you need solid data and information to help you make decisions as you complete your plan
And I offered the following tips:
- Try to find information about how much things will cost if you need to buy supplies, pay rent or lease, pay subcontractors, etc.
- Use your head, not your heart, to make most decisions. Your business is not a charity.
- Find out where your product or service fits. Do you have a niche market? What is it?
- Know your audience and its demographics (where and how do they shop? age? gender? etc.)
- Don’t limit your understanding of your business or where it’s going.
Step 3 is to write a brief company description.
You’ve put a lot of thought into your business by the time you get to this point. You know what your selling, who you’re selling to, and how you propose to sell your products and services. Your final business plan will have most or all of these sections, depending on what goals you have set. If you’re creating art to sell, you might not need to complete an industry analysis or discuss management or the organization of your business. You will need to include a description of your company and have a marketing plan, though. I included all the sections to give you a better idea about can be included in a business plan. But for now, we’ll focus only on IV. Company Description.
I. Cover Page
II. Table of Contents
III. Executive Summary
IV. Company Description
V. Industry Analysis
VI. Products and Services
VII. Market Analysis/Marketing Plan
VIII. Management and Organization
IX. Operational Plan
X. Financial Plan and Projections
XI. Financing Proposal
XII. Supporting Documents
Use the information you’ve gathered through research, knowledge and experience, brainstorming, etc, . Start your page with the heading: IV. Company Description. Then write about the following in one or two pages. The paragraphs do not need to be numbered, although if you like numbering and/or using headings, feel free to do so. This is your document.
- Your company history (keep it brief).
- Describe your products and/or services.
- Describe your customer demographics (what are their characteristics: age, gender, interests, location, income, etc.), and explain what they like about your products or services.
- Describe your business location (online, home, office, storefront, etc.).
- List the owners and the legal structure (LLC, partnership, etc.), and explain why you chose this type of structure.
- Describe the goals and objectives of the company.
In the next post, I’ll discuss what goes into an Operational Plan. The Financial Plan and Projections will follow. An Artist’s Business Plan template can be found here.