Writing your idea down and bringing it to life with structure and strategy can make the difference between having an expensive hobby or a successful business. For those of you creative entrepreneurs, freelancers and digital nomads who are ready to start an online business, having a business plan can be great fuel to spark your business fire. Regardless of what industry you’re in or what your business venture is, having a clear and thought out plan for start up, monetisation and growth can help you stay focused.
You may not think it is necessary when going you are starting out small, or if you are just working with a blog and a laptop. We know. It can be difficult to go from passion project to facts and figures. But it doesn’t have to be a pain.
Think of your business plan as a blueprint.
Rather than theorising and guessing about financial figures, product development and operation costs, and asking the question - HOW AM I GOING TO MAKE MONEY??? - take some time to simplify and think about it as a fun opportunity to visualise getting from point A (the land of ideas, but no direction) to point B (the land of success and honey!).
Remember that in the first instance your business plan isn’t for investors, the banks, or your parents.
It’s for you. It’s a roadmap for your vision. Your roadmap to success.
And it’s often at this beginning stage where the vision can get blurred and muddy and we take the easy route of wondering ‘how did she do it?’ It’s time to get your butt in gear.
These tips can help you get there and can help you stay balanced and organised while you do it. So before you start, remember:
1. GET SIMPLE.
Start small and build from there. You don’t need pages and pages of documents, charts, graphs and a Prezi presentation. Although the bells and whistles are nice, focus on who you are, what you are selling and how you are going to do it. Then expand.
2. GET REAL.
We’d all like to think we can do it all and we can do it all at once, but reality has a tricky way of finding us out. What funds do you have saved (if any, it’s OK if you don’t as it gives you something to shoot for!)? What contacts do you have? What other commitments will take up your time?
3. GET RESEARCHING.
About your industry. About your competitors. About your potential clients and customers. About it all, honey. The more you know about these areas, the better informed your projections and estimates will be.
4. GET A TIMELINE.
And stick to it (within reason). Set out some milestones that you hope to achieve throughout the next year. Nothing feels better than being able to check something you’ve accomplished off a to-do list. OK, well, some things feel better, but this is close to the top!
5. GET CREATIVE.
Remember, this document in the first instance is for you. An idea on a scrap piece of paper with some pressure can turn into gold. If you want, add your personality with images and content to make your vision come to life. Believe us, it will help you stay motivated.
So are you ready to dive in and write your own business plan? Let's do this!
The Business Plan
Your business plan will be your map to staying on course in your industry. It will give you and anyone else who reads it an outline of you, your business, your market, how you operate and how you make money.
There is no right or wrong here, whether you scribble notes on a napkin or you have a 50 page colour coded document, the most important thing is introducing a business model that works for you and detailing HOW it works.
To make it easy for you, we've created a template that works for our needs and the needs of many creative entrepreneurs, freelancers and digital nomads as they create an online business (whether service or product-based), and ends up being about 10 – 15 pages once it’s all filled in. Here’s what’s necessary to include:
The executive summary offers a quick-fire Who / What / Where / When / How of your business and delivers some of the financial highlights and goals that you are seeking over a period of time.
A quick description of your company and your management team (usually that's you)! Describe who you are and why you are qualified to be at the helm of this venture.
Products & Services
Go into detail about what you are offering - what your products and services are how you are going to differentiate yourself from other competitors in the market.
Describe your industry and do some research on your specific market while determining your customers' pain points. Speak about your ideal customer. Describe where the gap is in the market and where you and your business can fill it.
Strategy & Implementation
Here is where you give details of your marketing and operations plan. Describe your positioning, pricing, promotion and distribution.
Create a revenue forecast and estimate expected costs over the next 3 - 6 - 12 -24 months. What methods will you use to ensure you hit your targets? Who do you need to bring on board as personnel to take your idea to market? How much will that cost? What are your general operating expenses? What startup costs do you have and why do you need them? How much investment do you need to provide or find to build your business profitably?
Lastly, when creating your business plan, remember that it can be a living, breathing, fluid document, not commandments set it stone. It gives you a map but make sure you use your intuition to guide you above all. Be clear and concise, know your target market and industry, and focus on your opportunity.
Get your easily customisable template to create your killer business plan now!