How To Write An Ad Agency Business Plan

78% of advertising agencies do not have an up to date business plan.

Ok, I made that number up. But, based on my travels through ad land, I am sure that I am close… and, maybe even a bit low.

Without a business plan it is virtually impossible to build the right agency for the future and a new business program that wins new clients and fuels revenues.

Here is a four part template for getting started on planning, steering and managing an agency that will get noticed, grow and prosper in today’s fast-paced advertising and digital marketplace. I call my “instant” 4-Part Business Plan blueprint. It’s essentially a fast-track Q&A to help start the planning process that results in an actionable business plan.

4 Part Advertising Agency Business Plan Blueprint


The reality section is a review and analysis of your current agency situation including your services, agency brand position, client relationships, search wins and losses and your competition. You will need to be honest about your agency dreams, success and failures and where you see your place in the evolving advertising and digital industries.

Include all data points that help define your current business (what works and doesn’t), market position and industry trends.


Next is where you will describe your goals and what you are going to do differently to become more competitive. You will use scenario planning to define internal and external drivers (like the rapid move from PC’s to mobile devices) to make flexible long-term plans. You should consider and review a range of new services, technologies and products.

You will need to build an agency that is perceived as different and better to attract attention in this highly competitive industry. This is the time to think and act audaciously. These plans will take into consideration projected financial and staffing investments. You should also consider how to pivot if some plans fail as they will inevitably do.


People will fuel your company and future. No surprise here. This section defines the right staff mix based on the skills and attitudes that will be required to meet the goals set out in Next. Once again, absolute honesty is required in reviewing future staffing requirements.


This section reviews projected P&L’s, margins, balance sheets and cash requirements.  Cash is king.

And, there is more… In this case its more of an early-stage starting point (written for new design firms) and is much more detailed.

The article from Creative Bloq and Rob Carney of Computer Arts Magazine delivers a 12-step approach to writing a business plan.

This feature is an extended version of the article ‘Crafting a Business Plan’, found inThe Design Studio Handbook – your definitive guide to running a thriving studio. The Design Studio Handbook is the fourth in Computer Arts’ six-part series of practical manuals, and it’s on sale now in the UK and online.


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