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Establish a Marketing Budget

In doing the above exercises you probably discovered your creativity and your
enthusiasm far exceeds your limited budget. Just how little can you actually get
by on for your initial marketing budget? That may depend to a large extent on
your good old creative thinking and/or your ability to barter services.
We pass along some standard formulas that start-up or mid-size design
firms use as a guide in determining marketing funds:
• Set aside 5 percent of gross revenue per month
• Earmark two thousand to five thousand dollars per year
• Dedicate 10–25 percent for marketing and promotion
Another powerful aid that helps you succeed is a written business plan; conversely,
the lack of a plan is a precursor to failure. While the choice is up to you,
we urge you to put together at least a rudimentary plan because it is a catalyst
for clarifying your thinking. Besides, if you’re intending to borrow funds to
finance your start-up, a business plan is mandatory. Why? Because no sane
person will invest money unless you can prove on paper that you’re a sound
financial risk.
Get Help
If the mere thought of tackling a business plan gives you a migraine, rest assured
there are many free resources available online to help you. Here are just a few
helpful sites that offer tips for preparing business plans and/or provide some
easy-to-follow samples:
• Small Business Administration
• Local small business assistance initiatives listed in the yellow pages
If you want advice specific to design firms, download Cameron Foote’s
article, “Business Planning: The Exasperating Made Simple,” available for purchase
at This article includes a sample informal business
plan for freelancers as well as a formal business plan for multiperson shops.
Another source you’ll find very useful is Cooper Bowen’s The Graphic Designer’s
Guide to Creative Marketing.
Business Plan Components
First, different so-called “experts” utilize different terms for the parts of a business
plan so don’t be confused when you run across this phenomenon in your
reading. Second, in an effort to make this section as simple and useful as possible,
we’ve reduced the parts to those that will provide you with the bare essentials
of a business plan and yet won’t take months to write:
• Description of business (mission statement, services offered, clients)
• Marketing Section (market analysis, competition, and market strategies)
• Financial Data (start-up costs, monthly cash flow and overhead, sales
projections, pricing, break-even points, potential funding sources)
• Management Section (applicable only if employees or freelancers are utilized)
An optional feature included in some business plans is a Critical Risks
Section or Contingency Plans. This shows you’ve given consideration to things
beyond your control that might occur but for which you have, nonetheless,
developed alternative graphic