For many creative or technical people, the last thing they think about is business planning. For many right-brained people, sitting down and planning can be boring, and executing them can even be more of a chore. Business plans and continuous planning is necessary for those who go into any business, whether you are an electronics engineer or a graphic designer. These are the necessary steps you need to take to get your business off the ground, or if you’ve already started, to give you focus for the coming months or years.
Design and engineering firms are no different. In the beginning, it’s even more important to have your business plan if you want to open a real office with employees and equipment. Not only is this important to gain funding, but business planning is important to help you stay on track and in business for a long time.
Role of Business Planning
If you didn’t start with a business plan, don’t worry. Many creative and technical firms start out with a few clients, without any real goals except to deliver the goods, get a good pat on the back and perhaps make some profit (or at the very least, not come out in the red.) However, as time goes by, many of these firms may find that although they and everyone in their company are growing creatively, they don’t see much monetary gain, are always strained to make ends meet and they find themselves working harder every year but not really seeing the company grow. Worse, competition is growing and expenses are just too much to keep up with. You start feeling like a hamster running on a wheel – busting your behinds, but not really getting anywhere.
The problem is, for a business to be successful, it cannot stay in the same place. It must move forward or be left behind. Whether you started with a business plan or not, now is the time to create or update your plan. Business plans for design and engineering firms are never static. Your business planning allows you to reflect back on the past and make plans for the future, to allow you to move forward.
The planning process is important both in the beginning and middle. It will make you aware of the challenges that you will face ahead and help you find solutions. It allows you to look at your competition and find out what sets you apart from them, and more importantly, how to convince potential clients they need to do business with YOU. You’ll also be able to include your team and your stakeholders in the process, to ensure your team goals and their personal goals are aligned.
You may be telling yourself, “Business planning is so boring!” For creative and technical types, the planning itself can be fun and exciting – just get a bunch of these types of people together in a room and let them start brainstorming. You’ll feel the energy in the room – the excitement and zest! The real problem lies in the execution. Who wants to worry about things like financial projections, profits and losses, cash flow statements and promotional plans.
The key here is to make it your own and really make it simple. There’s really no one way to do a business plan. You may have to package it a certain way, such as having titles like “executive summary,” “values” and “objectives” but all these things really boil down to these simple questions:
– Where are we now?
– Where would we like to be one/five/ten years from now?
– How do we get there?
Answering these basic questions, you can build a good, solid foundation for your business plan. Getting down and doing the dirty work, devoting time to really ironing out what it is you want to happen will be worth it, so you can grow both your creative/technical and business side.
LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design. www.lx-group.com.au
Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.