Module 3 Week 4: Workshop Challenge

admin

Stuart Tolley: Creative director, Transmission 

Emma Harverson: Editor Build+Become  

Lucy Warburton: commissioning Editor Build+Become

They have worked together on Build+Become smart book series.This helps readers understand the ever-changing world. Each book is about a different topic eg driverless cars. 

Lucy, please explain how you became editor of the series. As a commissioning editor: highlight areas of the market that are a place of growth in the industry. 

She thought that smart thinking was having a moment. She put together a pitch and suggested it to her editor and it became not just one book but many. Devising a series of books and products can be much more lucrative than coming up with an idea for just one book. 

Are you encouraged to bring ideas to the table? 

The more ideas the better in this content filled world. 

Emma, what were your responsibilities when the book was in development and how has your role changed? 

She joined towards the end of the first four books in the series so that she could see the whole process from start to finish and then she was able to take the books to the next stage. She project manages the process, looking at budgets, timescales etc. 

What were White Lion’s original outlines or business plan, when starting the project, and what were their expectations? 

It was quite different to the usual processes followed for an individual book. They were looking at a series so they had to put together a business plan for three years and five years – for the whole run of the series – to see whether it would be financially viable. It is important to make sure that all the energy is planned so that everyone can gain financially. 

Where there any key moments in the development of the strategy? 

Continually work through challenges and rigorously test every single stage. At least three or four times, the idea completely shifted. She hopes she built a model resilient to change in the future and that can work in a variety of markets and countries. The appeal is widespread as they hoped.

Can you please explain the process for finding and commissioning an appropriate author? 

The produced an outline of areas they wanted to focus on and that was based on what previously sold well. People publish into the same subject areas.

Can you explain about the book making process and highlight some of the key roles, stages and responsibilities?

Commissioning editor 

Project editor and in-house designer 

She commissions a freelance designer to work on the book and they work with freelance proof-readers, indexers and a sales team. It’s a collaborative process and it is important to have great communication. 

Please explain the importance of project planning communication and trust-building in the early stages of the project. Are there any planning structures and tools that you prefer to use?

At the beginning of a book they have a standard scheduling document they use for every project. They let everyone know the key dates. They make it clear that if anyone is late it has a knock-on effect on the schedule. They use phone calls and emails to communicate. 

How has the organisation and feedback structure changed or developed? 

Coming into the books as an established series was helpful and so the structure was already in place. 

How do you currently manage the publisher expectations? Do you schedule regular business and budget focused meetings? 

It is a case of continually returning to your initial plan and making sure that you are achieving what you set out to do and are keeping up with the market. 

I found this podcast very interesting as it gave me an insight into the process of developing not just one book but a whole series of books, underlining, in particular, the importance of: detailed planning in terms of time allocation; and the need to retain an awareness of and flexibility in response to ever-shifting markets and consumer appetites. 

How do you write a client facing strategic document for the purpose of a new business challenge?

Create a format and structure for a new business plan. You have considered company philosophy, leadership, budgeting, IP, and now we want you to create a 3,000-word business plan that presents your proposal to your client. This plan will be used to write a client facing project, or as an outline for a potential studio launch or entrepreneurial idea or artefact. This is very much a speculative exercise that will grow and evolve as you move through the rest of the course.

One of the key challenges of this exercise is for you to target your writing and proposal to a specific audience and therefore the research, your strategy, your communication skills and outline of management or organisational objectives, are central to this challenge.

3000 words: Business plan 

THE VISION

Alice Neve Studio is an international creative agency specialising in trend, colour, material and finish forecasting. Our trend and colour expertise are the core focus of our work in developing strategy, reports, content and design for our clients. We are also creators of Blend Magazine, which a quarterly forecasting publication that we produce for design and colour professionals all around the globe. 

THE MISSION

We are experts in tracking and analysing colour trends and use this extensive knowledge to create exclusive and customised CMF (colour, material and finish) trend reports for our clients’ products up to two years in advance. In a highly competitive environment, we have a proven track record in identifying the key drivers and desired commercial outcomes that our clients are searching for to support and nurture their product or brand development. We communicate our forecasting reports with precision and clarity and innovative, cutting edge design.  

Executive Summary

Hand selected, in 2011, for a scholarship place on the most prestigious course worldwide for Contour Fashion, Alice Neve picked up an eye for fabrics and finishes at an early stage. After graduating, Alice founded her first company which enabled her to spend her time working with silk and lace makers in Calais and negotiating with fabric, colour and trend forecasters at Paris trade shows. Her knowledge quickly grew until she became a CMF specialist. Moving forward to 2019, Alice has now fused her rigorous and detailed graphic design skills, aptitude for reading data sets, interest in consumer psychology and behaviour with her natural gift for CMF to create Alice Neve Studio. 

Working in a collaborative way with her clients, Alice carefully and rigorously assembles beautiful and commercially insightful colour, material and finish trend reports. Studying in depth a client’s target market and customer profile, as well as analysing what the world will look like when the product is released and into the future; including areas such as news and media, economic and political climate, and seasonal change; building close and meaningful business relationships with clients and striving to deliver consistent and impressive financial results: This is the foundation on which Alice’s industry reputation is constructed. 

Areas of Focus

Colour

Colour plays a large part in most of our lives, from the moment we wake up in the morning, we are pushed and pulled by invisible forces towards and against things because of the way they make us feel. Colour can create an inestimable impact on consumer behaviour, fully determining customer choice between competitors.

At Alice Neve Studio, we do not only forecast CMF trends two years ahead of season, but we also track global and regional usage, trajectory and longevity. This allows us to offer invaluable advice in many different general and niche aspects of colour trend expertise from textures to coatings.

Materials and surface design

The way in which surfaces and materials harmonise alongside colour to create new and innovative design outcomes is integral to our forecasting. Alice Neve Studio produces in- depth CMF (colour, materials, finish) forecasts for all their clients. We believe these three elements, when used correctly together, can impact not only the commercial value of your product, but also the way in which the product is experienced, transforming its physical and visual impact. 

 Core VALUES

Alice always tries to build a strong bond of trust from the beginning of a project. Gaining a client’s confidence is integral to her project approach and practice. She builds confidence by allowing the client to be as involved as possible at all stages of the process. Once you decide you would like to work with Alice, she arranges a half-day company workshop, which is an opportunity for your company and Alice to get to know each other, discuss the product, brainstorm, generate and record ideas: ensuring a pool of knowledge and a unity of purpose as the foundation for fruitful CMF projections. Consistency in her work is also something that Alice prides herself on: current clients request CMF reports every season, Alice will produce top-end, consistent and reliable work. Underpinning this is a foundation of trust which Alice works hard to establish in her clients: that her bests endeavours will be channelled into producing astute CMF forecasts, that their best commercial interests will underpin this; and that the utmost professional discretion will be exercised at all times. A final, value is innovation, with Alice constantly pushing the boundaries of CMF – collating materials, finishes and colour together in ingenious and novel ways so that her client’s products will always look exciting, fresh, fashion forward and commercially enticing. 

DESCRIPTION OF SERVICES

Custom CMF Trend Forecasting Reports

Alice Neve Studio works exclusively with clients to produce custom made colour material and finish reports for the clients’ desired target market. This allows clients to ensure that their forecasting reports are going to have a direct impact on the customer profile they are targeting above and beyond generic trend predictions. 

AN Studio Membership

It is also possible to sign up to Alice Neve Studio membership, which allows industry professionals to have access to the latest CMF trends each season. This allows our members to cut through the noise with focused and coherent analysis including data visualisations, beautifully designed mood boards and written reports collected into one document at an affordable price.  This membership will give you the perfect building blocks for your design and product development. 

This Membership features:

Colour forecasts up to two years ahead of season

Colour material and finish forecast: in depth 100+ page bi-annual report

CMF image catalogue: original photography created inhouse

Trend briefing: bi-annual webinars and panel discussions 

Digital colour palettes: for use in Adobe CC 

Our forecasts are global and are reinforced with expert observations and colour variations for the European, Middle East, South African, North American, Latin American, Indian, Asian and ANZ markets.

GOALS

The goals of Alice Neve Studio are as follows: 

Creating loyal and durable professional client relationships that stand the test of time as ANS helps companies navigate the complex and specialist fields of CMF. 

Producing reliable, consistent and innovative reports and mood boards tailored flawlessly to the client’s needs and expectations. 

Producing original imagery and in-depth research to back up all predictions and forecasts

Being open and welcoming when it comes to new challenges no matter what the company profile is: from start-ups to huge global giants. 

Client discretion and privacy is at the forefront of Alice’s mind when working around products that are yet to be released or working with delicate or sensitive areas or sectors. 

Alice usually works alone on client projects but if she does hire freelancers to provide supporting work for projects, she makes sure that everyone gets credited for all the work they contribute and is paid fairly for the work they do. This is because meaningful internal relationships and trust are as important to her as those with external stakeholders and clients.  

Company S.W.O.T. ANALYSIS

Strengths

There are very few consultancy studios that specialise in CMF 

I have a lot of knowledge in this field and believe I can bring my own take on the service to clients

I am a businesswoman as well as a creative and both these areas are crucial to success in trend forecasting

Weaknesses

I have no formal training in colour theory  

I need to make sure I find enough recurring clients that means that the cashflow runs smoothly and I am making a healthy turnover

I am only one person so the number of clients I can take on at a time is limited. 

If I do not find clients, I will not make money

Opportunities 

Hiring freelancers could help me to take on more projects so that I could get more done.

There is a gap in the market for colour forecasting; it is a very specialist area that not many people know about, yet many large companies rely on consultants to advise them on product colour. 

If I start fairly small, appealing to companies that cannot afford larger competitors, there will be opportunity to gradually grow the company as success is achieved and reputation established

Threats

WGSN and Hive Colour are two other trend agencies. These are my main competitors. I will need to make sure that I initially appeal to a client base that is different to their own, while ensuring my services are of similar high calibre. This latter will be difficult, particularly with regard to WGSN as it is an enormous company with many resources. 

Workflow will fluctuate depending on the season. 

• BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT & MARKET TRENDS

Everything from taps to toothbrushes, cars to interior furnishing, colour is all around us and has a direct impact on the way in which we experience the world. Beyond this, colour also has a significant influence on whether we are drawn towards something or inclined to reject an item / product, depending on a complex mix of general (universal, instinctual) and specific (environmental, political, social) associative factors. We are at the mercy of these associations in relation to not only colour but also materials and finishes and a potentially complex interaction between the three. A large part of the success of most products today is their ability to entice the customer (beyond appeal to reason and science) and the job of a CMF forecaster is to provide information which is likely to ensure maximum desirability in the three fields (colours material, finish). This is a job that will always need to be done by someone and for clients that release new projects by season – e.g. fashion brands – or year – e.g. cars – the job of a CMF forecaster is never-ending. The process involves a lot of organisation and foresight: two years in advance is the average desirable timescale for orderly release of new products and product lines. 

No season will have the same colourways as our world is always shifting – whether these changes are pivots in political and social views, news and media shifts, economic, health, environmental or seasonal factors. CMF trends are always changing, and it is up to the forecasters to use all the analytical tools at their disposal to stay constantly ahead of the curve. 

• MARKETING AND OPERATIONS PLAN

With a strong background in business, having started a company at the age of 22, as well as having worked in the tech world as an international account executive, Alice is used to prospecting and creating new business partnerships on a global level and across different languages. Reaching out to her network and bringing in new clients is a big challenge but one that ANS is up for! Using email and phone as well as social networking at parties and through platforms such as LinkedIn and Instagram, ANS will aim to find 5 regular clients within 1 year. This may not sound like many, but due to the specialism and high demand of her consultancy practice, fees are fairly high, and projects can be extensive. 5 clients would allow Alice to work full time on forecasting whilst turning a good profit in her first year. 

• CLIENT PROFILE

To find five loyal clients might sound like a small task but, in fact, working with clients who will use the consultancy services each season means that the ANS initial client profile would be ideally a small to medium sized company that is producing different products each season in different colours, textures and finishes. Ideal clients for ANS would perhaps be interior design companies, product design companies, fashion or accessory houses. The typical person ANS would be in contact with would be a project manager or creative director of the product. She could also be in discussions with the marketing teams and design teams depending on the structure and size of the company.

EVALUATION OF THE COMPETITION

My two main competitors are as follows:

WGSN: a massive platform that produces trend forecasting reports for many different sectors from fashion, beauty and accessories to automobiles, food and drink and interiors. They have a subscription structure where usually large companies will pay large sums of money to have access to their reports. The company has hundreds of people working for them and subscriptions are sold at a global level. They scan the global landscape so that their clients can focus on creating outstanding products and experiences. They have 15 regional offices and they provide inspiration to a community of 42,000 product designers and thought leaders in 32 global markets. They are by far the longest standing trend website with over 20 years of experience, having launched in 1998. 

WGSN may be an impressive international company, a trendsetting pioneer, but that doesn’t mean there will not be other companies looking to work with individuals like ANS who have the time to customise and tailor their trend reports to their specific target markets. ANS has time available and an emphasis on personal focus aimed at building a close bond with clients and an intimate knowledge of the products they are creating. 

HiveColour: probably my biggest competitor as they are a smaller more narrowly focussed version of WGSN. They have a magazine they produce with trend forecasting reports in every month and a monthly subscription as well as working with clients individually. It is a size of company ANS would ideally like to become in future. Given the huge number of companies in the world that would undoubtedly benefit from CMF expertise, there must be room for more than a handful of direct competitors. From the beginning ANS will make its target market both French and English-speaking countries (Alice speaks both languages) which would be an advantage over Hive colour.   

TECHNOLOGY & PHYSICAL FACILITES PLAN

An important feature of this business would be that it could be conducted from anywhere in the world. I have a new Apple MacBook Pro with large storage, a computer backpack and this is all I want to need to initiate this business. I will keep a small studio in a co-working space so that when clients come and visit, I have a professional place to present my work, but day-to-day, I would like the freedom to take my laptop and present to my clients in different countries, or to actually locate myself temporarily in another country to allow myself to absorb cultural factors that might be a significant influence on textures, colours and finishes. An important part the remit of a CMF forecaster is the ability to be at the forefront of new, innovative developments in analysis of the constituent elements, both together and in combination. CMF trade shows are held all around the world that are a must attend for a forecaster. It is more than possible, especially now, to run a business with nothing more than a good and powerful Apple computer and this is what I aim to achieve with my business in its early years. 

FINANCIAL PLAN FOR THE NEXT THREE YEARS

The monthly costings for my business are as follows:

I am the only person who works for Alice Neve Studio, which simplifies my costings; however, it does mean that lead times for the client will be slightly longer as the client is relying on one person alone.

Accountant charge per month: £20

Co-working space charge per month: £250

Legal Fees per month: £40

Phone bill per month: £15

Website running cost per month: £50

Business Contingency per month: £100

WGSN and Adobe membership: £150

Total cost by month = £625

Average business running cost: £20.83 

Taking into account the other clients, I will potentially be turning down to do this project, skills and professional advice = £875.10/month

Average cost for skillset and time spent = £29.17/hour

£20.83 + 29.17 = £50

Hourly rate 

My hourly rate: £50/hour

*Exclusivity Charge: + £10/hour

My hourly rate increases because of exclusivity agreement

New exclusivity hourly rate: £60/hour 

Total number of hours worked on an average project: 11 weeks (40 hours each week) 

11 x 40 = 440 hours in total. 440 x £60 = £26,400.00

Average price per project = £26,400.00

Risk and project costings

This is just an average costing out of a project. The client will have to pay a proclaimer of 50% of the final amount upfront 

Year 1 

My aim in the first year would be to find 2 regular clients. If each client pays around the average price per project and works with me for spring/summer and autumn/winter seasons, then my yearly turnover for the first year should be around:

£26,400.00 x 4 (x2 S/S and x2 A/W) = £105,600.00 before tax

Income tax

As I will be earning more that £37,500 per year, the income tax jumps from 20% to 40% meaning that the total amount I will earn for 

£105,600.00 before tax

£63360.00 after 40% tax reduction 

Year 2

If each client pays around the average price per project and works with me for spring/summer and autumn/winter seasons, then my yearly turnover for the second year should be around:

I aim to find 3 regular clients. 

£26,400.00 x 6 (x3 S/S and x 3 A/W) = 158,400.00 before tax

Income tax

As I will be earning more that £37,500 per year, the income tax jumps from 20% to 40% meaning that the total amount I will earn for 

£158,400.00 before tax

£95040.00 after 40% tax reduction 

Year Three 

If each client pays around the average price per project and works with me for spring/summer and autumn/winter seasons, then my yearly turnover for the third year should be around:

I aim to find 5 regular clients.

 £26,400.00 x 10 (x5 S/S and x 5 A/W) = £264,000.00 before tax

Income tax

As I will be earning more that £37,500 per year, the income tax jumps from 20% to 40% meaning that the total amount I will earn for 

£264,000.00 before tax

£158400.00 after 40% tax reduction 

Summary 

I am very pleased with this business plan in terms of cashflow and planning. It has made me feel genuinely excited about the possibility of starting a business in CMF forecasting: using my existing (and constantly evolving) business skills in order to develop another which draws on newly developed (and developing) creative skills.

Business Strategy: A guide to effective decision-making by Jeremy Kourdi  

A clear view

Reading this book has helped me to develop a highly focused strategy, based on analysing exactly where my business can make money and why. This means I can build profits, cashflow growth and shareholder values. “Strategy indicates where resources (notably people, effort and finance) should be concentrated.”

“The process of developing and implementing strategy enables managers to understand their customers and competitors.” 

The book also allowed me to think about questions such as: 

How precarious is the business? Does it rely on just a few customers? What are the priorities when expanding? What must be done to achieve the benefits and avid pitfalls? 

I think one thing I have to bear in mind with this business plan is that if I do not have clients, I will not have projects, and with no projects, there is no money. I need to make sure that I develop a highly effective prospecting strategy and gradually develop my reputation in order to attract further business more organically. 

Testing formats: Business plan format draft

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *