Building a (very) micro business plan

Following on from this thread, I've started building up a set of craft based projects for the clients I currently work with, many of the ideas came from the thread, so many thanks to those who contributed.

Now we're hitting a new problem, that I'm not allowed to spend money. Personally I think this is more because of the team leader than actual budget problems, because the amounts I'm asking to spend are tiny for this organisation, but there we go. If I want this to work It seems we need to be able to sell what we make to cover our costs. This suits me as it means my clients work becomes more meaningful as it's sold to the public rather than just being made and taken home.

However, if I'm going to get this happening need to make a sort of business plan.

I've also been told (now) that I have to recycle things rather than buy new materials. Again, this is fine and fits into the organisation because there's already a range of "upcycled" items from furniture to bicycles. There's also a number of shops belonging to the organisation which range from traditional "charity shops" to a few smaller shops that sell second hand items but wouldn't look out of place in a posh high street; the latter are my focus.

The goal would be:

1: To make small items like leather bracelets, wooden key chains et c, for sale, all from recycled materials. sales would be to cover costs and fund...
2: A weekly or monthly "group" activity based on something like this as suggested by @Cycleops.
3: And long term, fund something like a small CNC machine so we can say engrave and cut recycled wood to make items for sale. This would also help prepare clients to work in industries involving CAD and programming (he says unhampered by any knowledge of the subject)

My problem is that I'm trained in pedagogy, and haven't a clue about business. I really only need a tiny budget to fund tools to start work, and I'd be focusing on leather work and jewellery making to begin with.

How on earth do you go about making and presenting a business plan?
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My autistic daughter attended a special autistic school that had a workshop for the more able. They were able to make all manner of items (wooden stools, garden ornaments etc). From time to time, friends and families were invited to order specific items. It all seemed very nice and to us seemed to give the children in the workshop a target.

But it was stopped. It was decided that anything made to order would be exploiting the children and put pressure on them to make things when they were not really interested in or had no concept of a commercial enterprise.

I think they were able to sell items that were made, but any concept of making to order was banned.


Active Member
Here and there
Art students - those who have an interest in making things do this type of activity as part of the degree.

You could do worse than talk to a third year student who may have the necessary skills and enthusiasm to drive through the money side of life. ‘Crowd funding’ whatever that is seems to work for some.

Google may have some template business plans in their documents section.

Good luck with your project.


Ride It Like You Stole It!
South Manchester
Keep your plan fairly concise. Outline what you want to achieve and outline how you are going to get there, and by when. Outline the benefits to the clients, and the goals.

Money side, you aren't after generating profits, just enough to buy materials (not everything could be recycled) and maybe some equipment. Price up any equipment, and be realistic about sales. You've been told you've no money to spend, so you just need to try and stick to that.

Keep the finances simple as you aren't talking loads of money. Ideally suggest there is an internal account that any sales could be 'logged into' and that you are given access to the accounts so you can monitor the balance. Make sure the equipment/materials are mentioned in the plan, as come the time you've enough in the account to buy some additional materials, you'll have the 'evidence' approved in the plan, so no-one can turn round and say you can't have it - this bit is key as folk forget/move on over time.

I'd recommend submitting progress reports every three months - just an A4 side, we've done this, that, generated x euros etc - nothing more. Highlight benefits to the clients and how that's helped them as this is the important bit.
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An Peanut
I cannot help with the business plan, but ai am sure Google can. However, a few ideas that might make great products, all cycling based and all ‘proven’ to sell (just look on Etsy). Bike tyre belts, inner tube wallets, wash bags, phone holders, coin holder etc. You could even start up-cycling chain rings into clocks, chains into key rings, etc. Simple things to make with the right tools, easy materials to get hold of and a ready made market willing to buy.


Found in the Yorkshire hills ...
I might not know much about bikes but this is my area of knowledge. Basically they're after a 'business case' which sets out what you're planning to do, why, and what you hope to achieve at no cost to them. How are you going to make the items? How are they getting to the shops? Who gets the income / a breakdown of income and how is it transferred? What's the come-back if they're faulty? Where does any income go? @fossyant has covered the financial bit with his expertise.

Keep it simple, concise and consider the costs/benefits/risks.

If you need someone to scan it, PM me.

Ian H

I am an ancient randonneur, & I often stop for tea
East Devon
At its simplest, three spreadsheets should do.
One details costs of production (raw materials, wages (if applicable), heat, light, power, premises, etc.
A second details sales revenue (with evidence that you can sell enough products for x amount).
The third takes the difference between one & two. If you were self-employed that would be your income, otherwise it's the contribution to the organisation, remembering that any taxes will come out of that.


Über Member
The business plan should be quite easy. There will be plenty of advice on the internet on how to present and format a plan. There will need to be some investment, ie. tools, etc. You just need to show that your costs will be covered from future sales. Why not consider whittling / carving and then selling small wooden items? Very popular with tourists to the Black Forest which I believe is very close to where you reside?
Many thanks: that's a lot of useful suggestions and I'll be working my way through them.

I'm in an unusual situation: the company is a training company, paid by the local authority to run seminars for our clients, and it also runs several businesses to provide medium-term employment for people who need help getting back to work.

Of course, local authority funding tends to be kept as low as is conceivably possible and then -10%. The organisation is also very keen that whatever materials we use should be recycled.

This means that I basically have to convince the commercially minded people that I can cover costs, except that they're thinking in terms only of sales, while the "training" people are trying to avoid spending money. This may be a tougher sell than I originally thought: I was talking with the manager of the shop I where I work and his response was that it would take too long to even recoup 70€ in tools from what we were selling. I see this a bit differently because we're being paid to provide practical work to our clients for about two to three hours a day so I owe it to them to provide meaningful and satisfying work, and I'm effectively being paid before I sell anything, so I'd be recouping my costs as I used the tools.

I think this may be a minority view, however.

There are about five shops in operation selling used items. Some are traditional charity shops, but a couple are in areas with high footfall and look like rather expensive boutiques, while still selling used items. I think these will be my target because these craft based items will be more appropriate to their customers.

It's a difficult situation: I'm new in the company and I realise that's not a good place to start suggesting new ideas, but I also really want to give my clients the best possible training and experience, rather than, as now, giving them simple gardening tasks or just coming up with a random task for them to complete.


New Member
Hi Andy, just my two cents. But from a management perspective telling someone that they can't spend money is an easy solution to cost cutting. Being a manager however they would be a sucker for a good cost analysis on any item.....and sadly all items you would need to buy. In a cost analysis you would, in its basic form highlight cost, briefly, expected return on investment (how much you expect tool to generate), how much more they would spend with out it, and how soon they would break even. Tooling replacement or servicing cost goes in.......somewhere at the back if you really want the tool and front page if you don't. Sometimes getting a good understanding of terms like return on investment, efficiency ratios and using them in communications helps. It just gives them the peace of mind that you know that every euro, dollar or pound is important and has to be accounted for. You may not get everything you need but communication with management will be smoother, depending on manager of course.
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Many thanks for the ideas, which I am slowly putting into practice. In the meantime we are in business, sort of.

Basically I've changed tactic and I'm making things out of donated items: Last week several unsellable pieces of furniture went through the table saw and are being made into cutting boards, and the weeks before that we made Christmas decorations out of bicycle chains. I also made small sales stands from an couple of old bits of wood and some metal rod I found in the corner of the workshop.


This has now had the rods polished and the base oiled and looks much more respectable... The first example is already in one of the shops so we'll see what happens: I've already been told we "need a label" to hang off the items explaining their background.

Fortunately there's a parallel EU funded programme that we fit quite well into so we are piggybacking on that a bit, Who knows, if we can keep going for a while longer we may get some of that funding next year...


Senior Member
Bird boxes are easy to make sell well and give a lot of pleasure to people. They can be made from a large range of objects as you can do sparrow boxes from large items. The BTO give plans which you don't need to stick too, ( the birds don't) but do give the critical measurements such as hole size. Bat boxes as well. BTO also give info on where to place them. Really smart ones sell for quite a high price, so making a range rather than a standard format can be good.
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