One of the mistakes I failed to mention in my 6 mistakes I made in my first year of business post was that for most of the first year, I was flying by the seat of my pants (aka I had no business plan whatsoever).
My “business plan” (if you can even call it that, ha!) was “find clients who will pay me.”
While finding paying clients is absolutely important (check out how I got my first five), I wouldn’t really call that much of a plan.
When you’re just starting out, I don’t think there’s any reason why you need an 84-page document on how you’re going to build your business but I do think it’s important to have a bird’s eye view of what you want your business to look like and how it will function.
In today’s post, I share the aspects you should be thinking about to create an actionable, revenue producing business plan. I hope you enjoy!
Defining your why is so important. Actually, it’s the most important step to take while you’re creating your business plan.
Let me tell you, if you’re going into small business ownership solely because of money…you need to figure something else out.
Money cannot be the main focus of your solo business. It will not work. You will get burnt out and you will end up despising the business that you built.
On the days when you are struggling, when money isn’t coming in, when you’re having a hard time, when you feel like you can’t do this anymore (and rest assured, you will have ALL of these days at some point), money is not what will keep you going.
Hence why you need to define your ultimate why.
Answering these questions will help you define your why so you can push through the rough times and truly savor the best times.
If you’re just getting started with your solo business, you may be still figuring out what the heck it is that you’re even going to do.
I recommend thinking of the things that you’re already good at and enjoy.
Considering all of these questions together, at the same time, will help you figure out what niche you belong in and what you will succeed in. Sometimes a business idea is staring at your in your face, you just need to recognize it!
The fact of the matter is, there are hundreds if not thousands of people out there that offer something similar to you. This isn’t to compare yourself or feel bad because someone is better at something than you, it’s to realize that there are people out there that already offer what you want to offer.
So how are you going to set yourself apart?
This isn’t to scare you and make you think you shouldn’t try because there are other people offering similar services/products, it’s to get you to think strategically about what you can offer the world that’s unique.
Writing out your past experience in life (whether related to your professional job or not) can help you start to see your unique perspective and how you can offer something different to the world.
You do have distinguishing characteristics that will make you stand out, you just need to be able to clearly define what those are so you can find the right audience that will love and support you.
Now that you’ve defined what makes you different, it’s time to figure out what you’re going to sell.
It basically boils down to three options:
There are pros and cons to each. I initially started only offering services, because that’s what I was comfortable with and knew the best. I would advise you selecting what you are most comfortable with and what makes sense for you.
You can always add or take away in the future, but don’t try and overwhelm yourself with doing everything at once. Remember, you’re just getting started!
There is a lot that goes into pricing products and services. Charge too little and you’re viewed as a novice and people take advantage of your low prices leading you to burnout, charge too much and your customers will go to someone else that charges less for the same product or service.
My personal opinion is there’s no right pricing for anything.
Some people pay $10 for a cell phone. Some people wait in line for days and pay $800 for a cell phone (hello, iPhone).
I know a lot of people feel conflicted about pricing, whether they feel like they’re charging too little or too much.
Your circumstances also play a major role in determining pricing for your services and products. Are you relying solely on your income? Do you have children to support? How much of a nest egg do you have? Where do you live and what is your lifestyle?
Here’s how I do it: I know how much I want to make in a year. It is a reasonable salary, something I could obtain if I were working a regular 9-5 job in this same field.
Once I determined that number, I worked backward and figured out how much I would need to make per hour to get to that salary. Then, when I’m pricing out clients for projects, I make it based on that hourly rate.
I’m sure some people think I charge too much. Others think I charge too little. I charge what I know I’m worth. Whether that fits into someone else’s budget is up to them.Learn how to build an actionable business plan for your solo biz with these tips from @BrittneyLLynn! Click To Tweet
Your client/customer process is important to consider while you’re building up your business. Say someone says yes to your pricing (yay!), what are your next steps?
I send mine a contract, detailing out everything we have already discussed and any other stipulations depending on the project.
Then, I have different processes for each type of client.
For ghostwriting clients, I use Google Docs to share a folder with the client and get them set up as a project in Asana.
Determining the tools that you will use (check out mine) and how often you will be communicating and what you need from them will help you stay organized and always one step ahead of the game.
If you’re selling products, there is still a customer process that occurs.
You don’t have to have all of these things figured out before you get started, but spending some time considering how you want to handle each of these situations will make it easier for you in the long run.
Ah, my favorite part of the business plan! You can have the best services or products in the world, but if you aren’t marketing them you won’t get very far.
First things first, most solo businesses (especially an online business) will require some type of content creation on your part (or you can hire someone to help you!).
Content doesn’t have to mean blogging. Some people hate writing and don’t want to upkeep a blog. The great thing about right now is that you don’t have to do blogging.
You can create a podcast. A YouTube. Webinars. There are a lot of different options right now so pick one that you love doing.
Next up is your email newsletter. It’s funny, I have friends that work in other industries and they’re like, “email marketing still works?!” Uhhhh yes friends, yes indeed.
Particularly if you run your business online. You need to have an email list. You’ll then have to think about what type of content you will send them (gotta give them a reason to stay subscribed!).
Social media is another way to market yourself. I recently saw on a Facebook group a question about how important social media actually was to growing a business.
Here’s my take: can you build a business without a social media presence? Yes. Social media has only existed roughly over the past 10 years and obviously businesses have succeeded without it.
However, you’re going to miss out on a lot of business if you aren’t on social media. Why? Because that’s where people spend a lot of their time.
You may not like that answer but it’s the truth. The fact is, people spend a ton of time online, and specifically on social media platforms. It’s going to take you a lot longer to build a presence online without social media, but it is doable.
Last thing you’ll want to determine while you’re building your business plan is what success looks like to you.
If you’re building your solo business, you’re probably doing it for a reason. Everyone has their own reason. Reasons can include:
Comparing yourself to other’s successes will not get you anywhere. This is why it is crucial for you decide what success looks like to you.
Maybe you want to spend more time with your family. Maybe you want to travel wherever you want, whenever you want. Maybe it gives you more free time to do other things you love.
Whatever it is, it’s important to keep this as a reminder for when times are tough. You may have a different idea of what success looks like compared to other people, and that’s okay.
I hope this post was helpful for you. The point of building a business plan is not to have a document that you are tied down to and have to follow to a T, it’s to give your business some guidance and a path to follow to create your own successful solo business on your own terms.
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