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Develop a Financial Plan

Investing in the business plan takes some money, as well as time and real effort. Determining how much will you need to invest and when is a planning process. First of all, it need not all be at once. That's why you need a plan, month to month, for at least six months to get started. Software tools like QuickBooks can help with this process. A mentor, business coach or consultant, accountant or some other person whose business judgment you trust can help immensely with this plan.

Starting a business often includes the cost of legal and accounting advice, as well as insurance and possibly licensing fees. Providers of these services can give you quotes or estimates for planning purposes.

Unless you intend to use an existing home office, you will need to purchase furnishings and equipment, and possibly to rent or lease studio space. Utilities and transportation costs should be estimated on a monthly basis, along with miscellaneous expenses for business meals, professional dues and subscriptions, office supplies, postage and such. 

Once the business is established, investment needs to be made in marketing, including some printed collateral, a Web site and other tools. But most importantly, you will need to make innovative investments of time to develop relationships that will "get your name out there."

Estimate your monthly expenses for at least six months, including start up costs, then make a conservative estimate of your income for the same period, bearing in mind project schedules and billing cycles. Once you do that, you will discover how much money you will need to get started.

Going forward, you may need a bookkeeper (even part-time) to help keep track. Remember, your income is derived from design, not accounting, so consider the investment in support staff wisely.

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