I don’t know about you, but I’m a firm believer in planning ahead. Sure, it can be fun to be spontaneous and dive right into things. However, when it comes to achieving success in business, there’s one thing you absolutely must do… You need to create a business plan.
Having a business plan is going to be essential for getting things started off on the right foot. Plus, it’ll help you stay on the correct path throughout your journey. When you create a business plan, it’s your opportunity to set goals and determine how you’re going to get there. It might not sound like the most fun task, but it’ll make a huge difference in the end. And the best part? You can actually make planning enjoyable and easy! That’s exactly what I’m going to show you in this blog post where I share the basics every creative business plan needs to have.
Why You Need to Create a Business Plan
When you think about planning for your business, it might seem like a daunting task. It can be overwhelming to think about the direction you want your business to take. For some of you, you might not even know where you want to be in the future. However, it’s important that you develop some sort of idea of what you’d like to achieve. It doesn’t matter if you shift directions later on because you can always pivot.
But you want to sit down and think about what you want in this very moment. If you could achieve anything in your business, what would it be? Think about what your end goal is and you can begin planning from there. This is when it comes in handy to create a business plan. Your plan will be your roadmap to help you get from Point A to Point B. It’s going to guide you along your journey, help you stay the course, and assist you in tracking your progress. Plus, having clarity on your business goals is essential to staying focused.
How to Create a Business Plan
Now that you see why it’s important to create a business plan, you’re probably wondering how you can get started with your own. After all, you want to make sure your plan is effective, don’t you? To develop a plan that you’ll actually use and implement in your business, just follow the steps I’ve outlined. These steps will make the process much simpler and hopefully eliminate some of the stress this task might be causing you.
The Basics of Your Business
The first thing you need to do is determine the basics of your business. You can’t build a plan without first having a strong foundation, right? You need to determine what your business is all about. The why behind your business is going to be a powerful motivator to keep you going. Plus, that’ll also help draw the right people into your business.
To get started, consider the following:
- What is your overall mission? What do you truly hope to achieve with your business?
- Why are your motivated to achieve that end goal? What’s going to motivate you to keep going?
To create a business plan, you want to begin by writing a summary of the basics of your business. This is your chance to gain clarity on exactly what you’re pursuing and what you want to achieve. As I said above, you can pivot at any time, so don’t feel like you’re locked into this plan. So, you shouldn’t let this step frighten you! I’ve changed my path a few times when it comes to blogging and that’s totally okay.
This is also your opportunity to define your brand. The brand you cultivate needs to resonate with both you and your target audience. To do that, consider who you’re trying to reach with your content and offerings. Use that information to brainstorm your brand’s look and feel accordingly. You may want to hire a designer to help you with this step if it’s not your strong suit.
And of course, your brand is more than just a logo and the colors you use on your website. These elements give your brand a distinctive look, but they don’t give you a voice. The voice in which you write is going to bring everything together. This is what will ultimately draw people in and keep them coming back for more. That’s why it’s so important to embrace what makes you unique.
Know Who Your Audience Is
Next, one crucial element of your business plan is to get clear on exactly who you’re targeting with your content, products, and services. If you don’t know who your ideal audience is, you won’t be able to reach them. You won’t be able to figure out what they’re interested in and therefore can’t create content that resonates.
To determine who your audience is, ask yourself these questions:
- Who do you want to reach with your content?
- Who are your products and services going to benefit?
- What kind of clients do you want to work with?
This is also the perfect time to complete a “dream customer” questionnaire so you can create an ideal reader persona for your business. You’ll then be able to keep that person in mind any time you create new content. This is crucial in attracting the right audience to your business.
Plan Your Offering
Now, it’s time to think about what you’re going to offer in your business. It wouldn’t be a business if you weren’t bringing in money somehow, right? Although it’ll likely take some time before you’re making a full-time income, you still need to have some ideas planned out. What you choose to offer is going to go back to your own passion and expertise, plus what your target audience needs the most.
To figure that out, ask yourself:
- What am I passionate about helping people with?
- What am I an expert in that will allow people to pay me for my services?
- Who am I targeting with my products and services? What would they most need from me?
Then, you can begin brainstorming ideas of what you’re going to offer when you’re first starting out. How do you want to make money? Are you going to focus on services (coaching, design, photography, etc.)? Or are you going to go the product route (digital products like eBooks and e-courses, physical products, etc.)?
Once you know what you want to offer, you have to figure out how you’re going to create those things. Will you need to download any software or purchase specific tools? If you’re creating physical products, what kind of equipment or vendors will you need? All of this will factor into the financial plan that we’ll talk about in a minute.
Need some helping coming up with offerings? Check out my post on how to monetize your blog.
Develop a Marketing Plan
Once you know who you’re targeting, you need to know how to reach them. After all, you can’t just sit back and wait for people to come to you. Attracting your audience is all part of your marketing plan. You have to be willing to put yourself out there to connect with potential readers and customers. There’s no such thing as, “If you build it, they will come.”
A great way to reach your audience is through social media. However, it’s not as easy as just joining every social media platform there is and posting content. That wouldn’t be effective! Instead, you need to first figure out which social media platforms you’ll invest your time and energy into. The right platforms for you are the ones your target audience is actively using.
Another factor that comes into play is whether or not you’ll use paid advertising on these platforms. Ads are a great way to expand your reach in a short amount of time, when done right. So, will you be adding these to your marketing plan? If so, you’ll need to consider this in your marketing budget.
You should also consider other ways you can promote your business online. You can do guest posting or collaborations with other bloggers to reach new audiences. Another option is to invest time into online communities like Facebook groups. There are really so many opportunities out there, so you need to figure out what works best for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas to figure out what really brings in the results.
You will also want to determine if local outreach will be part of your business strategy. While some businesses aren’t looking for local clients, you might be. You’ll need to consider how you plan to reach those customers in your area. Will you attend networking events? Will you run ads in local papers? However you choose to market your offerings, it’s essential to think about this when you create a business plan.
The best part is, there are plenty of free or low-cost ways to market a brand new business. You just have to get creative with how you put yourself out there!
Get Your Finances in Order
Although it may be tempting to just get started in building your online empire, we need to talk money first. In order to create a business plan, you need to consider your finances. The reality is, you’re going to have to spend some money in order to make money. It’s just inevitable because something, somewhere along the line, is going to cost you cash.
So, think about what you absolutely need to have in order to keep your business going. You’ll need things like a computer, web hosting, an email service provider, etc. Will you need to hire someone for web design and creating a logo? You may even need a camera and some sort of software if you’re going to be taking photos or filming videos. Then, you’ll also want to factor in the items you need to create your offerings. You even have to think about your marketing plan and whether or not you’ll spend money there in the beginning.
The next step is to make some financial projections for your business. How much do you want to make and in what time frame? While you aren’t guaranteed to hit that goal, you still want to give yourself something to track. You need to be able to measure your results. And if you see you aren’t making the money you hoped for, you’ll realize that you need to step it up in some area of your business. When you aren’t hitting your goals, you’ll know you need to increase marketing efforts in order to attract more clients and customers. But that’s just one possibility!
My Final Tip: Focus on What You’re Passionate About
If you’re anything like me, making sure your work feels good is important. I’m all about doing the work that feels fulling and lights me up. That’s what makes me look forward to working on my business every day. You want to keep that in mind as you create a business plan. Don’t set out to achieve something that doesn’t feel good to you simply because it’s what everyone else is doing. Focus on what you’re passionate about instead.
And if something just doesn’t go as planned, don’t force it. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Just let it go, learn from it, and keep moving forward.