How to compose a Graphic Design Business Plan

So you’ve decided you want to delve into a career as a freelance graphic designer? We’ve created a handy guide on how to compose a Graphic Design Business Plan

So you’ve decided you want to delve into a career as a freelance graphic designer?

Congratulations! You’re joining a great network of individuals who have gone down this path before you and have never looked back. It will be a rewarding journey and the benefits over sticking with that office job you hated for years are too many to count.

Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen overnight and you aren’t going to be successful unless you plan ahead. Even if you are the most creative and imaginative artist out there, if you don’t start with even an inkling of a plan then you are not going to have the freelance career you are hoping for.

As the old adage goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.

Graphic Design Skills and Compentence

Luckily for you, we’ve created a handy guide on how to compose a Graphic Design Business Plan. The steps below and the small excel exhibits should be enough to get you started and thinking about the right sorts of things.

Before we start though, what type of graphic design artists do you want to be? It’s important to assess your own skills and competencies before you dive into a doing work that isn’t actually your strong suit. The point of this article is not to help you figure this out, so we won’t spend any time on this step but it is obviously vital.

Regardless of the type of work that you want to do, the next steps in creating your business plan are pretty generic and apply to all kinds of work.

When you are setting yourself up as a freelance graphic designer, you should think of it almost as if you are creating your own small business which you are running yourself. We’re going to throw some terms at you now like revenues and expenses but don’t be put off – the business jargon will be extremely light.

Graphic Design Business Budgetting

The first concept in your business plan that we will introduce you to is budgeting.

Budgeting is an extremely important process for businesses of any size to go through, even a one-person operation such as yours. The longevity of your freelance career will depend on your long-term ability to generate enough revenue to meet your expenses. By closely watching your finances, you will ensure that you are going to earn enough money to fund your operations.

If you’re not very financially literate, don’t worry, we’ll explain the basics here and introduce you to the concepts so that you can start, or improve, your own budgeting.

Budgeting for a business is similar to budgeting for your personal life. On a monthly basis, there will be recurring expenses such as rent, groceries, gas, etc that you need to pay for. In order to be able to afford these things, you need to generate enough income to at least match these basic necessities. Ultimately, your goal will be to generate income that is in excess of these monthly expenses as this will allow you to save money towards larger, extraordinary expenses such as going on vacation or putting down payments on a house.

Making a start with Revenues

Your freelancing works under the same principals. You want to earn enough revenue to meet your operating costs, and hopefully earn more than this so you can make investments in your equipment, or additional training that will help you earn even more in the long term. If you’re not tracking your revenues and expenses, then you won’t know if you’re actually spending more money than you’re taking in, which is an unsustainable long-term situation to put yourself in.

The first step in your budgeting process will be to forecast your revenues. Forecasting revenues will be different for different people depending on a number of factors. If you have been in operation for a long time then you will probably have a good idea of their volume of sales that you make on a monthly/annual basis. You will also be more aware of the trends in their industry – have sales been increasing/decreasing, are there more competitors entering the market etc.

If you are starting out from scratch, then you should be conservative in your estimates. Don’t go out and invest heavily in new equipment and then not actually be able to contract any work for a long time after.

Don’t expect your actual annual incomes and expenses to exactly match what you set out in your business plan at the start of the year. This never happens. The key message in this is that you need to be diligent in thinking about your potential expenses and making sure that you are going to be able to cover them with your income.

Business Plan Basic Template

We’ve set out a small template below. This is very basic and should be expanded upon for things such as loan repayments and anything else that is specific to your situation. At the end of the year, hopefully you’ll have turned a profit and have a little extra cash to treat yourself with!


Business Plan Net Income and Savings

Business Plan Net Income and Savings Chart

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