Having interviewed many Knitting Professionals I've discovered that it is rare for them to have a business plan. I recently attended an evening session at the library that covered this topic. This one was lead by Sally Wilkie of the Toronto Business Development Centre The viewpoint of the centre is that a business plan will help ensure success when starting a business. They report that only about 46% of small businesses survive past 3 years and that a survey of emerging growth companies felt that having a good business plan and sticking to it was the key success factor for their first year.
Briefly the business plan spells out details of various parts of your business usually in the areas of marketing, operations and finance. It should spell out your mission and vision statements, describe the business, mention the legal status (sole owner, partnership, etc.) and include the future plans as well as your key objectives.
If the plan is written for potential investors that will have a big impact on it's format. In my case I don't need investors so I'm viewing this more as a goal setting exercise to keep me on track. I have been doing some market research but there is not a lot of formal data being collected about knitters. Most of what I know is from personal observation and speaking to my peers and knitting friends.
Lately I've been thinking a lot about pricing strategy and I think that will evolve as I produce more patterns. I'm most interested in doing garments but I'm focusing on accessories right now while I perfect my pattern writing skills as well as mastering software and other new skill sets.
The presenter also talked about developing a customer profile and for the first time her version made sense to me, instead of a single profile she recommended that the plan should describe several potential customers. I know a lot of Knitters but there is no way I could distill them down to a single profile so the concept of thinking about multiple profiles works for me, the young urban Knitter vs. the gift Knitter or the high fashion Knitter. I"ll be working on a few of these because I think that will send me in some new directions.
The session also included sections on sales plans and forecasting as well as financial planning and a strategic activity plan. Under features of a poor business plan was an item that I suspect all Knitting professionals suffer from. Infatuation with the the work of the business or its product and not the marketing process. Hummm.... well I'm off to do some knitting now.
Here a few sites with some free info for you (just in case).