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Developing a 4-Part Business Plan for Freelance Designers

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Create a Graphic Design Business Plan

Write up a business plan that incorporates (as a minimum) Description, Products / Services, Marketing / Sales, and Financial Projections for your freelance design business.

A business plan, even if never used to raise capital or acquire investors, can help to get your desktop publishing business off to a good start and guide it on its path to profitability. A business plan and the process of developing a business plan:
  • Establishes that you are a real business, both in your own mind and in the eyes of friends, family, prospective clients, and your government (for example, having a written business plan can help when dealing with the IRS and proving that you are a business and not trying to claim business expenses or losses for a hobby).

  • Provides focus so that you waste less time and money on matters that are not profitable for your business (targeting the right customers, obtaining the right equipment and supplies, using the best marketing methods, setting the right price for your products and services).

Much of the information in a business plan is optional, especially when not used for raising money, but there are four key sections that apply to even small, freelance design businesses: Description; Products & Services; Marketing & Sales; Financials.

In "Start With a Plan for Your Desktop Publishing Business" we eased into writing a business plan by focusing on two essential elements, the description of your business and initial financial projections. Now we're going to expand on those two sections and add descriptions and analysis of the services you are offering and how you will market your desktop publishing services.

Previous articles in our "Start a Desktop Publishing Business" series of lessons contain the seeds for these sections of the business plan. If you've already studied these lessons and done the assignments, pulling it all together for your business plan will be much simpler. If not, read the lessons and do the assignments associated with each of the four essentials for your basic desktop publishing business plan.

1. Description
As a minimum the description of your desktop publishing business includes your mission statement and your legal structure. Your mission statement describes why you are in business, who your customers are, what need your business fulfills, and how you will meet those needs.

2. Products & Services
Beyond desktop publishing, your business plan describes the specific services that your business offers and how you will price your services.

3. Marketing & Sales
In this section of your desktop publishing business plan you'll outline who your customers are and the specific strategies you'll employ to market your business and find clients.

4. Financial Projections
In this section of your desktop publishing business plan you'll describe how much money you currently have available, projected expenses (major and ongoing purchases of equipment and supplies, educational expenses, taxes, utilities, etc.), projected income (and where it will come from), when you expect to break-even, and other money matters. Eventually your initial projections will be replaced with actual profit and losses and new future projections.

Your Assignment
Write up a business plan that incorporates (as a minimum) Description, Products & Services, Marketing & Sales, and Financial Projections for your freelance design business. Identify those areas that still need work. Don't file away your business plan never to be seen again. It's not a static document. For instance, you'll add actual profit & loss statements and balance sheets to your financial information as you start getting customers and bringing in income. Revisit it daily or weekly while starting up your business then again on a regular basis once your business is underway.

Freelance Design > Start a Business > Business Plans > Developing a 4-Part Business Plan

Doing Desktop Publishing & Graphic Design
Training, Education, Jobs:Careers in Desktop Publishing
In the Classroom: Back to School With Desktop Publishing
Jobs: How to Find an Entry-Level Design Job or Internship
Business: How to Start a Freelance Desktop Publishing or Graphic Design Business
Pick Your Path to Desktop Publishing
Get Started:Basic Guidelines and Requirements for Desktop Publishing
Choose Software:Desktop Publishing and Design Software
Make Something: Things to Make Using Desktop Publishing
Tips & Tutorials:How to Do Desktop Publishing
Training, Education, Jobs:Careers in Desktop Publishing
In the Classroom: Back to School With Desktop Publishing
Use Templates: Templates for Print and Web Publishing

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