A freelance career in the creative arts
A freelance career in the creative arts

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2.1 Visualising your plan

The Nesta Creative Enterprise Toolkit (Dahl et al., no date) uses practical exercises to help you to consider some of the key themes in your business plan. Its tools are designed to help you shape, design, explain, communicate and control your business in a process which ‘helps you develop a clear business plan that you can use to guide your activities and make your idea work’.

Many of Nesta’s activities have a visual element, which can work better for some than written exercises. Can you visualise your business plan using this approach, which they call ‘blueprint modelling’?

Activity 2 Blueprint modelling

Timing: Allow about 45 minutes

This activity is reproduced, with permission, from the Nesta Creative Enterprise Toolkit, Worksheet 03b.

The aim of this activity is to help you visualise how your business will actually function and describe how your business will be done.

All businesses, whether product or service based, have a process with three operational stages:

  • Engagement stage – planning who your prospective customers are and how to persuade them to buy from you.
  • Development stage – designing and creating your offer.
  • Delivery stage – getting your product or service to your customer.

The various activities involved in these three stages either take place ‘backstage’, i.e. out of sight of the customer, or ‘onstage’, i.e. in front of the customer. The boxes with a yellow background in the table below represent costs that cannot be charged to the customer, e.g. market research, which means they need to be funded from your profit margin.

Part 1 Brainstorming

  1. List all your business activities in the relevant boxes of the table below. Consider asking a friend or mentor to help you or look back through the course to get ideas. If you prefer, you could draw this table onto a large piece of paper and use sticky notes to place the various activities in the right boxes.
Table 4 Listing your business activities
  Backstage Onstage
Engagement
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Development
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Delivery
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Part 2 Mapping out your steps

Now that you have a list of your business activities, it will be useful to put them in order, mapping out all the steps you will need to take to deliver your product or service. Aim to map the entire process in small, linear steps, as this will give you a clear visual representation of all the tasks required to get your product or service to your customer. Again, you could do this on a separate piece of paper with sticky notes.

A simplified example of this for a product-based business might be:

Design product

Make prototype

Contact manufacturer

Produce product

Find retailers

Sell to retailers

Then the various stages associated with each of those headings are mapped out, step by step, in more detail.

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Discussion

This is an alternative way to put together a business plan that uses the more visual pathways in your brain. This is often an approach that appeals to creatives.

This ‘process mapping’ approach should allow you to identify the critical stages in your process and any potential sticking points where maybe you don’t have the resources or expertise yourself.

If you want to explore the Nesta Creative Enterprise Toolkit further, it is available in several languages, and you’ll find a link to it in Further research.

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