D is for Design:
Design is more than just making things look good. Design is about communicating a clear message.
The design of your elements is also your first impression to your target market. Are they seeing the message you’re trying to direct to your ideal clients? Are they seeing a quality product or service that they want to invest in? Knowing who your ideal client is is half the battle, but making sure that you know them well enough to be able to speak to them through your design and message to let them know you’re a good fit is just as important. Your design/branding elements (logo, website, social media, marketing) need to reflect your company’s message.
I often use a document called a “Scale for Tone” when I’m getting to know a business better. I use that in conjunction with their business plan to make sure that the two are meshing well together, and that a clear message will come across with the branding and design elements. Within the document are a series of adjectives (some more vague than others) that I ask to be put on a scale of one to ten. There’s a place for notes so they can explain what they mean for the more vague adjectives, and while it’s where I get the most questions – but it’s also where I often get the most clues as to what they really want their brand to say. Not everyone is able to accurately describe what they want succinctly, off the top of their head, but they can look look at a word, and know whether or not that describes their company or not, and by how much.
When the design concepts are complete and ready to be reviewed by the client, I’ll refer back to the Scales for Tone document, what we talked about in the business plan, show how the two are relevant, and why design choices were made based on their own business plan elements. It’s not about the font of the month or the colour or trend of the year – it’s about your business being reflected in your branding, and speaking to your ideal client.
E is for E-commerce:
Online shops are a great way to make your product available to people from anywhere, but there’s more to it than just signing up and uploading products! An important step is choosing the platform that’s best for your business plan, audience, and products.
For many people something like Etsy is where they started to sell online. Since Etsy controls how the shop functions, sets up the product space and delivers the audience, it’s a great first step into e-commerce, but can be limiting for people that are interested in showing more of their branding, sales, and in general having more control over how it looks and works. Many makers have an independent e-commerce solution like Shopify, WordPress + plugins, or one that works well with your brick and mortar store’s inventory system – either in tandem with Etsy or completely independent. Having your own site to be able to advertise your featured products, sales, and have customers be able to browse your products without having them be able to browse your competition at the same time is a great asset, but can be intimidating to start from scratch.
If you’re considering starting up an online shop, shoot me a message and we can talk about your platform options, goals, products, target audience and how to drive traffic to your online store so you don’t have to worry about the details – just making your products and getting them sold!
F is for Foundation:
Everyone knows the old adage about building a house on a strong foundation – the same is true for your business plan.
You need to lay the foundation of your business through your business plan. Do the research into what you’re offering, to who, why, and how. Once that foundation is set, you can use that to direct your planning for all the aspects of the day-to-day of running your business.
Your website’s structure, goals and design will be based on your business plan. Your marketing will be based on what you learned about your target market within your business plan. Your sales, online presence – it all falls back to the foundation you set with that plan – and it makes it so much easier when you’re confident in that foundation.
If you’re not feeling as though you started with a strong foundation, and it’s affecting your company’s message (be it through your website, marketing or online presence in general), check out the Business Plan Refresh, and we’ll see what we can do to make sure you know exactly who you’re talking to in all aspects of running your business!