Sub Heading: The Business Plan
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
Every business or activity that you want to be successful requires a plan.
A business plan is a fluid document, however there are some sections that are clearly fixed. The document will represent the journey ahead, which will include the concept, the action required to make it happen, and possible variations from the plan. It can be as detailed as you prefer, however the more detailed the early stages are, minimises the potential of future issues. Professional development is essential for music educators and an acknowledgment of the time commitment must be considered. Every plan should include short, medium and long term forecasting alongside financial summaries and target points.
There are a number of free business plan templates available online (Government Digital Service 2012) however you can construct one yourself via most word processing programs currently available. This is a document for you, to help you bring your thoughts together and assemble it into a pathway. A standard business plan will cover objectives, strategies and forecasts.
Firstly, objectives; when we have a great idea it is good to stop for a moment and take a step back, to ask why this and why now, combined with what is my goal or target.
Why do you want to open an Academy or a music teaching practice now?
Is it financial or do you have a desire to share your knowledge?
Is it something to fill the time that is ‘easy’ or to fulfil a dream you have always had?
If the time is right now, what was stopping you before?
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions but it helps you to understand why you are wanting to take on this challenge and what your motivational goal is.
What is the one thing that will keep you going when it is hard work?
What will get you up in the morning when you want to lay in a little longer?
Next is strategy; this is a detailed plan for achieving success in situations such as [...], business, [...] or the skill of planning for such situations (Cambridge.org 2019).
To understand what to include in this section you will need to know what you would class as a success, and does each different area have a different marker for success. Only when you know what your target for success is can you work out your strategy to reach your goal.
Finally there are the forecasts; these are usually sales, financials (or costs) and marketing. In the terms required for a music academy or teaching studio this is bookings, expenses (tuning, music etc) and advertising.
Business forecasting refers to the tools and techniques used to predict developments in business, such as sales, expenditures, and profits. The purpose of business forecasting is to develop better strategies based on these informed predictions. (www.omnisci.com n.d.)
Initially you need to identify the problem, it could be as simple as “I need students.”
This would be subdivided into
How many students do you require?
How many time slots do you have?
How many students are you prepared to begin with?
How often will you expand your student numbers?
Can you start weekly or would you prefer termly?
How many additional students do you require to balance absences?
Will you charge for absences?
How much, and where, are you able to advertise to attract these students?
Social media, organic is free but takes an investment of time to prepare and
post this time needs allocating.
Paid online adverts need to be well targeted to achieve a result.
How much can you allocate to this and for how many months?
Posters, flyers and paper based advertising does still work in some
communities but in others it can be a waste of money.
How much can you invest in this in time and money?
Think about the other costs you may encounter, these may include tuning, strings, music, reference books, travel to conferences, insurance, membership of professional organisations and stationery.
To be able to forecast you require two things;
Targeted market research.
As a new business you are unlikely to have personal historical data for the area you are opening in, however geographical historical data may be available via Companies House in the UK, local publications, local music festivals, business organisations such as chambers of commerce or B2B meetings, business rates will have statistical information and professional bodies will provide a national outlook.
Market research is an activity anyone can do, but very few people undertake. This process consists of analysing the requirement for your service both in location of other similar services and public demand. Market research keeps you focused, it does not matter how wonderful the concept, if the market is absent or glutted you are going to have a bigger task to develop that and launch your business.
Locate any other music teachers in the area?
Is the instrument you want to teach already catered for?
Are there people who want to learn this instrument?
Are there any free, or council provided, services for this instrument.
The accessibility of your chosen location, with consideration given to public transport, parking and students arriving on foot.
A survey of the local populus would give an overview of the viewpoint in your area.
Choose your questions carefully, there are many sites online that offer guidance and general questions in this area (Grenier, 2019), however you will have to add some of your own too. While there are companies which specialise in this offering, they will not have the knowledge to be able to extrapolate further information as you will.
General questions could include
1. Who are you and what do you do?
2. Do you have time in your day to learn a new skill?
3. Have you ever taken private music lessons?
4. What was your goal then?
5. Take me back to the time you took lessons, what would you change to enable you to continue?
6. Would you consider taking lessons now?
Once you have all your thoughts together it is time to fill in the document, you can download a free template from the Prince's Trust, design your own or there is a model plan on the worksheet to go with this blog. Take time here as it will provide you with the information to work out why your business could succeed when so many others fail? (Princes-trust.org.uk 2019).
If you need any further assistance with your business plan please book a business consultation on the website.
Cambridge.org. (2019). STRATEGY | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary. [online] Available at: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/strategy.
Government Digital Service (2012). Write a business plan. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/write-business-plan.
Grenier, L. (2019). How to Do Market Research in 4 Steps [Guide] | Hotjar. [online] Hotjar. Available at: https://www.hotjar.com/blog/market-research/ [Accessed 20 Feb. 2021].
Princes-trust.org.uk. (2019). Business plans and templates | Business tools | The Prince’s Trust. [online] Available at: https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/help-for-young-people/tools-resources/business-tools/business-plans [Accessed 20 Feb. 2021].
www.omnisci.com. (n.d.). What is Business Forecasting? Definition and FAQs | OmniSci. [online] Available at: https://www.omnisci.com/technical-glossary/business-forecasting#:~:text=Business%20forecasting%20refers%20to%20the [Accessed 20 Feb. 2021].
by Chris Caton-Greasley CT ABRSM, DipLCM(TD), ALCM(TD), LLCM(TD)