Business plan 101

Putting pen to paper and churning out a 15 page document mapping out the backbone of your business can be an excruciating task, despite the wealth of resources and guides at our finger tips via the web. To help me along the way, I decided a bit of interactive focus wouldn’t go amiss, so last Thursday I found myself biking over to Tottenham Court Road to attend a workshop run by Alison Lewy of Fashion Angel, entitled “how to write a business plan”, aimed at fashion design businesses.

While these kinds of workshops inevitably put forward the same guidelines and tips contained in business guide books which you can get for a fraction of the price, the money spent was well worth it  – as the interactive style workshop ensures that you come away with better presentation skills, a clearer idea of the strengths and weaknesses of your idea, and maybe a fruitful contact or two found through networking.

Here are some key points I took away with me from the workshop:

  • A business plan is essential to provide a clear structure for your business, as well as to create momentum and keep you along the right path.
  • Research is key, and will form the most labour intensive part of the process, from looking at your market segment, ideal customer, competitive field, price points, to targeted boutiques.
  • Financial forecasts can be brutal tasks, but are vital in order to draw all the aspects of the plan together in numerical form, and of course ensure that you make money!
  • Business plans evolve – they are not static, so keep on adding to it as your business grows and changes

The workshop put a useful amount of emphasis and time on how to put together financial forecasts, and to monitor cash flows – no doubt both the dreaded nemesis of any designer! So all in all a productive morning, and very useful to meet Alison, who has just written a book called “Design, Create, Sell”, offering advice on cracking the hard nut of the fashion industry, which I’m sure is vital reading…

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