The Business End of Design

First things first, businesses are the realest. Basically, to get your brand off the ground, you’ll need to have a clear understanding of your business plan, legal structure and financials to really succeed. It’s not a case of winging it: you’ll need to have every operational aspect planned down to the letter. While we’re not lawyers (and we’d highly recommend speaking to one), here’s a rough guide to what you should be looking out for, and what questions you should be asking when you do consult with a professional.

Business Plan

Writing a business plan sets the stage for how your brand will develop, and will become an integral part of forging relationships with investors and generating capital. This document should include details around the following: your company mission, competition, financials and marketing.

Company. This section should outline what goods and/or services you’ll be offering, and define your future goals. It should also note the direction the company will take, including staffing requirements and outside advisors.

Competition. This part will look at trends and similarly-oriented businesses within your industry. it should also, importantly, specify your point of difference.

Financials. How much capital will it take to launch, and how much outside funding is necessary to boost your business? Further, how do you expect to make a profit? Continue to revisit these points as you survey your financials.

Marketing. Here, you should note the marketing tactics you’ll be using to spread the word about your brand. This can include visits to festivals or trade shows, promotions, social media strategies, print media, email marketing and more.

Business Structure

Next, you’ll need to come up with a business structure – a step that may involve consulting with an attorney to determine. Each business model has different tax and legal implications, and will have different pros and cons for the way your brand is positioned. Here are a few common business structures, with brief (and by no means exhaustive) information on what defines each.

Related Reading:  Shopping as a Key Stage in the Design Process

Sole proprietorship. This is a company owned by an individual, and means that the owner has control of all operations. It also means that all liability for financial issues falls on this individual.

Partnership. This is where a business is owned by two or more people. There are a number of partnership types, but two of the most common are general partnerships, where all of the the partners share liability equally, or limited partnerships, where one or more partners have limited liability and the remaining partners have full liability. In this instance, it’s essential that each partner has a clearly defined partnership.

There are also Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs), which mesh the limited liability of a corporation with the daily operations of a partnership. Here, owner’s personal finances are distinct from the company’s, which reduces personal responsibility for situations like company debt. An LLC isn’t taxed as a separate entity, so they only taxes that members of LLCs pay are based on their earnings.

This post was inspired by an earlier Maker’s Row article

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