In the previous chapters of our Popup Shop toolkit we looked at making a plan and managing risk. For your popup project to work, it also needs to have a financial plan. In this chapter we look at what likely costs your project will have and where your income is coming from to cover those costs.
This will help you make sure the funds you need are in place and give you some outcomes to measure the success of the project. It will be vital if you’re working within an organisation, with partners, or if you seek funding that you check what level of detail about your budgets your organisation, partners or funders require as well.
Firstly, you’ll need to write out some rough figures for the cost of your project. At this stage, it is a mix of making estimates and making enquiries.
You’ll need to know the approximate size of the shop you hope to use, and a vague idea of the location will help as well.
Expect staff costs to be the highest percentage of your budget (unless you have volunteers); and expect to spend at least 10% of the total on marketing and publicity.
Start with the initial expenses, the stuff you need to get the project up and running and get the doors open such as:
- Materials to do the shop up – paint and filler, brushes, sandpaper
- Furniture, fixtures and fittings
- Electrical items – a kettle, vacuum cleaner, portable heaters
- Printed publicity – leaflets, posters, business cards
- Signs, window vinyls and graphics, and an A-board
- A website domain and building a website
- Media advertising and leaflet distribution
Add the stuff that your shop will use up once you’re up and running, and work out a weekly or a monthly cost for these:
- Business rates (more about these in our next chapter!)
- Utility bills; usually only electricity and water
- Insurance cover
- Tea, coffee and biscuits for staff
- Toilet paper and soap
- Window cleaner and cloths
- Mobile phone calls
- Pay-as-you-go broadband, whether it’s a dongle or a wifi router
- Credit card and/or card reader fees
- Website hosting
- Media advertising and leaflet distribution
In most shops water and electricity are still connected, as the landlord and letting agents need to use them. If they are, ask the landlord or their agent to keep a meter reading and charge you for what you use – this is much easier than transferring accounts for a short period of time. If they’re not connected, you may have to factor in reconnection costs and be aware – there may be a minimum time for the contract to run, so you may have to keep paying after you’ve left. For short projects, it’s easier to use mobile phones and mobile broadband than to have these connected, and a mobile wifi router which will let you run up to five laptops should be adequate for all but the largest projects. Remember to check the available signal and network – some areas of Dorset have patchy coverage!
Insurance cover does not need to be complicated; most major insurers offer packages tailored to the needs of small businesses and shops, which are very affordable and can be set up with a phone call or online. These will cover your property against the public having an accident, a break-in, damage to windows and doors and so on. All insurance is about managing the risks, and the best idea is to ensure nothing needs to be claimed.
Take a commonsense approach to safety by watching out for hazards, and making sure everyone involved is aware of those hazards as we discussed in our previous chapter.
Now work out the costs of staffing the project – starting with planning meetings, get-togethers and workshops, and then moving into running the project, opening the shop and writing up evaluation afterwards. Keep a record for all the staff involved. Even if you’re planning to work on a voluntary basis – do start keeping a timesheet. It’s useful information to know, especially if you decide to move onto a more professional basis later – or to help another project to follow your model in the future.
Add your expenses from the categories above and you have a cost for the project. It is always a good idea to add in some extra as a contingency against unexpected costs, at least 10% of the total. Within an organisation, check how you can purchase and pay for all of this and check whether your organisation’s procurement rules need to be considered when planning your project’s timetable.
Now that you have considered your costs for your popup project, write up all the money that’s coming in. This could include:
- Funding or budget from within an organisation
- Donations from the public
- People paying contributions to the project, like artists paying to hang work
- Small amounts of sponsorship from local businesses, including donations of goods to support your project
- Grant funding from local authorities, Arts Council England or from trusts and foundations
Not all funds will match the project you’re planning, so make sure to apply for funds that are suitable and work closely with funders whenever possible. When you’re working with funders, you’ll have to work to a timeline, provide planned activity and usually monitor certain outcomes.
Funding for empty shop projects is new, so there aren’t many dedicated funds available. You’ll need to look carefully at what you’re doing and how it can be funded from established sources. If you’re working in a large organisation, you may have a funding officer who can help with this process.
Don’t make funds the most important thing, and don’t waste time chasing funds when finance may not be the barrier to getting the project going.
Funds from public organisations stem ultimately from central or local government, or National Lottery sources. These funds will tend to be used to create economic benefits such as new jobs created, land redeveloped or new businesses started.
Those from artistic or cultural sources will wish to see audiences developed or new artworks created.
These are never simple funds to draw down and will generally require quite rigorous administration and accounting. For this reason, smaller projects should consider looking for funding only as a last resort, especially while public investment is limited.
Public funds for local actions are many and varied, but generally fall into one of three categories:
- Enterprise development and entrepreneurial activities
- Community engagement to include job creation, job trials or intermediate labour
- Cultural activities, events and engagement
Largely, the first two categories are seeking economic impacts and are measured as such, although some community initiatives are far softer and require fewer or softer outcomes to be identified. The final category often does not seek economic impacts but does still seek to add something to what’s already there.
This list is only a suggestion and we recommend you to consider various income streams to help support your project and do your own online funding research, or why not try to crowdfund your pop-up project.
- Meanwhile Space – helps you create social and economic value from vacant property
- Arts Council England – awards from £1,000 to £100,000 to support a wide variety of arts-related activities
- My Community – various finance options you can take when looking for funding to get your project off the ground
- Dorset Growth Hub – multiple links for business and community grants in Dorset
- Dorset Community Foundation – Community grants in Dorset
Download our free budget plan spreadsheet to help you get started here: Popup Shop Budget Plan
In our next Popup Shop chapters we look at business rates and what to do first once you get in the space.
Illustration by Dorset based illustrator Bridie Cheeseman