In an age when you can have an idea and get it up in front of your audience within a day or week, it may seem redundant to need to write a business plan. When you can start an online business for as little as £50 the need for a plan for the bank is gone.
However, business plans where always meant to be action plans, not a document you create to get money from the bank or financers then stick in a drawer when you get that money, never to be seen again.
It has always been the document that sets out who you serve, how you serve them, how you get that message to them and how your business will make money doing it.
So yes, your online business needs a business plan.
But it doesn’t need a 50-page in-depth analysis of the market, it needs a robust action plan, with goals and milestones, that is used daily to grow and push your business further.
The information you put in the plan is all the information you need to make your online business successful.
Essentials When You Write a Business Plan
All you need is a 1-5-page document with the following information;
Step 1: What your business will do [What your Business is about]
The first section of your plan should detail what your business does. This can simply be one line stating what your business is about.
Example: We’re an online based accounting business, selling accounting software packages and online Consultancy, via our own Website and App.
Step 2: Who you will Serve [Niche & Ideal Client]
This section is where you talk about the niche you will cater to and detail your ideal client. You can be as detailed as you like with this section. However, you should have a separate document you can attach to your business plan detailing your ideal client in full.
Example: We work with Coaches and service-based businesses. Our ideal client is a Business Coach who earns £5,000+ every month, who is within their first year of business and has never had an account of purchased accounting software. They are a complete novice in terms of accounting and need help with setting up their financial systems. However, they are location independent and need someone who can work with them completely online.
Step 3: How you will Serve Them [Product & Services]
In this section, you’ll list out all your products and services as well as the price you plan on charging.
Example: 3 Software + Hours packages using a monthly fee system: Starter Plan – £97 | Grow Plan – £ 197 | Pro Plan – £297. The Consultancy packages will be from £690.
Step 4: Why Your Ideal Client Needs You [Problem You’re Trying to Solve]
It’s important to know what problem you’re aiming to solve. Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. Every business out there solves a problem. If you’re not, then the business won’t be successful. So, write out the problem your business is solving.
Example: Helping new service-based entrepreneurs get to grips with their business finances completely online so they don’t have to worry about having to be in a certain city to see their accountant. Problem: Business Finance Overwhelm + Location independent
Step 5: How You Stand Out from The Crowd [Your USP]
This section is all about your unique selling proposition. What makes your business unique? How are you different from your competitors? This could be pricing, service level, the packages you create. It could even be you. Your experience, expertise or influence.
Example: Accounting agency made for the location independent entrepreneur. With in-house experts in international business law. So, can help clients from around the world.
Step 6: How you will get your Message to your Ideal Client [Marketing Plan]
Here, you’ll discuss how you will market your product. Will it be content marketing, blogging, social media or paid advertising? List how you will drive traffic to your site, will you guest blog and where.
Make this section detailed and the one area you come back to every day. You can add and remove items as needed.
Step 7: Your Sales Goals for the First Year
Goals are important in your business, without them you could just wander around aimlessly, not getting anywhere fast. When you have goals, you wake up every day with one question, how do I get to my goals today?
Most of this document is all about how you get to the goals you set out in this section. So, bear this in mind when writing the other sections. Once you’ve completed your sales goals, go back and see if any other sections need to be adjusted so you can meet your goals.
Step 8: Key Milestones for Your Business
Your sales goals can be broken down into actionable milestones, and this is what this section is for. It’s for you to write down all the actionable milestones that will get you to your financial goals.
Step 9: Business Costs
Your startup and ongoing cost are important to know in your business. One they’ll give you a base level of how much your business needs to make each month in order for it to be viable. Two you know how much more you need to make to get to your sales goals.
That’s it 9 sections or Questions you need to answer about your business so you can make it a success quicker.
You see, by creating your business plan you get crystal clear about who you serve, how you serve them and how you make money from doing it.
With a short document that you go to every day, you can adjust and change as you really get into your business and you see the need to.
As your business grows your plan will change and grow with it. You should be going back to it every 3 months to rewrite as needed.