Whether you are just starting out, rebranding or deciding to get serious about making your side hustle, your main hustle, creating a business plan can be very overwhelming. That's where we come in with our 7 steps to your business plan.
Business plans are tough
They are a lot of work and it can be hard to know where to start, or how to keep yourself moving once you have started. There's a reason that a lot of people either put this very important process off, or just pay someone else to do it. Because it's hard! But not impossible. And is a valuable process to have done yourself (not to mention the saving of your hard earned!).
Think of your business plan as a logical road map or a plan of attack. You wouldn't go on an overseas holiday without at least having figured out which flights to take and how to get to the airport... right? This is the same thing. A plan to keep you moving forward and get you taking off on your business adventure.
One little note before we start...
Before you start writing your business plan, have a clear idea in your head about who will be reading it.
Decide if you are "externally focused”, which is to say writing for people outside of the company. An external focus may include customers, clients, other businesses or potential investors/ loaners.
Or are you "internally focused”, so writing for people inside the company. An example of internal focus being your managers or workers.
Knowing the target audience of your business plan will help you keep the information inside both relevant and appropriate to the reader.
1. Know your Audience
Research, research, research! Think about your ideal customer - what is it they want? What can you offer to help? What will make them come to you over the competition? And fianlly, can you see anything that would stand in the way of you helping them? Spend some time really thinking about your audience and their pain points.
Once you have answered these questions you will know your audience. How to attract them, engage with them and help them. In answering these questions you are also defining your niche. Congrats! You've figured out your niche, whether it's offering something completely new, or offering it in a new and different way.
2. Build a Clear Vision
So now you have clarified what you want to acheive with your business and what your niche market is. It's time to get that down on paper (if you haven't already) in the form of a clear vision. This is not just an end picture, but the roadmap and goals along the way of how you're going to get to that million dollar turnover. Where do you want your business to be in one week'time? One month's time? In a year from today? You need to break it down into bite sized chunks because getting to your end goal will take time, and a lot of work. Time and work that you can't manage all at once.
Note: make your progress goals realistic! There is no point saying "my first webinar will net me a million dollars," because it quite simply, will not.
Not only does plotting your vision and the steps to get there help avoid overwhelm, it helps to identify any particular hurdles you are likely to meet and to stage them at a point where you are able to deal with them. For example, you might need a particular piece of equipment or technology, but the funds won't stretch that far. Plotting your progress goals will allow you to see at what stage you won't be able to do without the equipment, and to plan on how to afford it.
You've also clearly defined your business objectives and goals. You now know what you want to acheive. Or conversely, you already knew what you wanted, but now you can demonstrate it in clear terms.
Writing your business plan will clarify your vision.
3. Analyse your Business
Using various different business analyses allows you to discover a number of different internal and external factors which you might have otherwise not considered.
- SWOT - Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threat
- PEST - Political, economic, social and technological
- and STEEPLE - Social, technological, economic, environmental, political, legal and ethical analyses
Tools like this can help you find gaps in the market, foresee various different threats, and leverage strengths and opportunities which you already have or will inevitable face.
4. Set Realistic Goals
While it is good to dream or be optimistic, make sure that the goals you set are realistic and attainable. If you want to make a 1,000,000 in 12 months, with the right business plan this may be achieveable but if you want to make 1,000,000 in a week or a month and you are just starting out this is unrealistic. You haven't even created your business plan yet!
Back up any claims, goals or assumptions with market research and business analysis. And be prepared for the worst case, while hoping for the best.
5. Consider Different Timeframes
As we were talking about back in point 2, giving yourself realistic timeframes is very important. Your goals need to be conceivable and acheivable. For example, you want to release an online course in one month's time. You're sick of talking about it, and you just want to do it! But to release that course you first need to research, write, build and then advertise the course. Can you do that all in a month, allowing time to attract and engage with your target audience? Probably not. But perhaps you can break it down into more acheivable chunks? Can you aim to have written and built all of the modules by the end of the month. But you really want to get cracking? Well be kind to yourself. Aim to have the first two modules ready to go by the end of the month. Basically, break it into smaller acheivements that still work with what you are aiming for.
6. Be Logical, Rational and Conservative
This is a big part of being realistic. You've done your research, backed up any goals and claims and now you need to take a second look at things like hours, budgets and staffing required. A good example of this is quoting for services. Be conservative in your time management, if you think it will take you 3 hours, allow for 5.
7. Periodically Review Plan
Be flexible, happy to pivot - ie move from offline to online. And continue to check in with what the market, your clients and you yourself are saying. Maybe you started heading one way, but you're really enjoying (or your customers are asking for) a related but slightly different direction.
Your business plan is organic, allow it to evolve and for youself to make the ongoing changes it may need.
We know it's all very daunting at the moment...
but just start writing and you may be surprised by what you are capable of! Still struggling even with these 7 steps to your business plan? Feel free to drop us a line or pop by our Facebook for some additional pointers.