A recording studio is a unique business, and starting a commercial recording studio can be overwhelming. Starting any business requires planning. A well-written business plan is both your guide to managing your business and a standard document for gaining investment or start-up funding. Recording studio owners should demonstrate they have not only strong management skills but qualified employees working on quality recording equipment. Studio owners are often musicians and not business professionals. The first-time studio owner, however, can streamline the task of writing a business plan with proper planning and guidance.
Label a section Business Profile and explain the business end of your recording studio to potential investors, partners and loan officers. Describe what type of recording you'll specialise in and whom you'll serve. Explain what will make your studio a profitable long-term venture by discussing market trends or any distinctive recording services you'll provide.
Create a new section, People Profiles, and include individual profiles of the people involved with your recording studio. Note their special skills, experience, knowledge or education relating directly to recording or business. Using only facts, no rhetoric, demonstrate you are capable and dedicated to running a profitable recording studio.
Label a section Office and Communications Budget and calculate a budget for the business end of your studio. This budget can be a simple list including office space, telephones, laptops, bookkeeping software, fax machines and anything else involved in the business end of your recording studio. Use an office supply catalogue or Internet resources to price the elements of your recording studio's office.
Label a new section Equipment and Media Budget and include all expenses for recording equipment and construction and other costs for the actual recording aspect of your business. This budget can be a simple list of expenses, including consultants, sound reinforcement, hardware, software, mixing decks and anything else in the studio. Include budgets for and brief descriptions of each piece of equipment.
Label a new section Licenses, Permits and Business Name. Include information on the zoning for your place of business, licenses required to do business and the name you will do business under. If you intend to have employees, acquire and include an employer identification number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (see Resources).
Label a new section Insurance and list any insurance costs associated with your studio. This will include basic liability and business insurance as dictated by your state's commerce department and any private insurance on your recording equipment.
Create a section named Premises and provide technical data about the physical space and costs of your business. Include the dimensions of your office and the studio space as well as any plans for expansion. Also include the costs of your studio space as a percentage of profit, your lease sign-off if you have one from the landlord and copies of any zoning confirmations you have.
Label a new section Accounting and Cash Flow and address your start-up balance and income projections for at least six months. Include a monthly, detailed breakdown of your income versus costs, accounting for the daily expenses of running your business. Describe how income from recording is processed, collected and accounted for and also the procedures for payment of your employees, including yourself.
Label a new section Financing and demonstrate the origin and destination of any start-up money. A flow chart showing any start-up investments, government assistance or business loans, and how they are to be spent, works best.
Create a section for your Marketing Plan and explain your scheme for advertising and marketing your recording studio. Include a timetable for and the costs of any advertising and direct marketing you intend to peruse. This plan may include taking out advertisements in local music publications, how you intend to compete with other recording studios, special programs (such as working with school music programs) and anything else that markets your studio's brand.
Draft a cover, executive summary and table of contents and an appendix for any documentation or diagrams. Place the cover, executive summary and table of contents before your first section, and add the appendix to the end of your business plan.
Always include any information that makes your business stand out, such as a unique piece of recording equipment or a particularly experienced engineer. Review other business plans to gauge the breadth of your plan. Wherever possible, use graphs or diagrams. Don't try to plan further than a year into the future. Don't use casual language in a business plan.