Success doesn’t come easy; it is a lot of hard work and determination. That being said it can be easier with a great strategy. A solid business plan will assist you in reaching your goals, creating your mission and vision statements, and provide you with a clear vision of where your business is heading.
All businesses, big or small, should have a business plan. Sounds daunting, I know, and it kind of is, but a business plan is basically a written description of your business’s future. If you create a business plan, whether you are just starting out or have been in business a while and looking to grow, it will help you on your path to success.
You have an amazing dream to make your business succeed with a clear goal in mind; however after some time, due to so many things you are required to do to run a small business, that goal may be put on the back burner in order to complete other tasks needed. Having a business plan will give you an all in one document that tells you what you plan to do and how you plan to do it.
So, let’s get started!
When you start to create a business plan, it is important to start at the beginning and have a greater understanding of your business. And we will do that by taking a step back and reintroducing yourself to your business.
I know when I started my first business I was so caught up in finding clients, getting and fulfilling orders, keeping customers happy, so on and so forth that I completely lost track of what my business was really about.
I don’t want this to happen to you, so please do not skip this step, it is easy to jump forward but this reintroduction is a great way to get the wheels turning on your reason for working so hard on your own business.
- What is your business’ name?
- Location? (online/brick and mortar)
- Social Media:
- Describe, with 1 – 2 sentences, what your business does:
The human element is the most forgotten part of a business. Most entrepreneurs get overwhelmed with marketing, bookkeeping, social media, product, tech, etc. But when you think about it, every part of your business boils down to people. By understanding the human element, you will be more profitable, create brand loyalty, close more deals, and ultimately be more successful.
When you are filling out the S.W.O.T Analysis, keep both your strengths and your businesses strengths in mind. For example, a strength you have may be to be able to locate any item your client is searching for; you are the caretaker and just take care of all their needs. Pretty great strength, if you ask me. A business weakness could be shipping those items may take longer time than your clients are willing to except. Having it all written down will help you to strengthen those weaknesses and grow your business along the way. You will learn more strengths and weaknesses along the way, which is great! It is all a part of growing with your business.
- Your Strengths:
- Your Weaknesses:
- Your Opportunities:
- Your Threats:
- Ideal client demographics: (age, career, income, etc.)
- Ideal client’s fears and frustrations.
- Ideal clients hopes and desires.
- How will you ease the fears and provide the desires?
- Social Media:
- What are they doing well?
- What could they improve on?
Discovering the purpose of your business is an important step on the path to creating a business plan for your company. Why did you start a business? I want you to seriously reflect here, “to make money” or “to be my own boss” is not the true answer. Yes, these may be a part of your reason for starting, but they are not your “why”. Why did you start this business? If it was just to make money – you could be a life model and pose for sculpting students at the local art college. If it was just to be your own boss – I need to ask you why, when you were a kid, would you yell “You are not the boss of me!” but not as an adult? Are you not the boss of you already?
Jonathan Fields once said:
So, reflect, come alive and take a moment to determine your true purpose. Why did you pick this business and why you want to do this?
With that in mind, it is time to think about your core values. These are best explained as the guiding principles that dictate behaviour and action. Essentially, core values are the fundamental beliefs of you and your business. No business is too small to have a strong set of values. What are yours? Honesty, discovery, investment, kindness, leadership?
Here at the virtual studio, they are Encouragement. Motivation. Empowerment. Success. Authenticity. And Growth.
Once you have your purpose and your core values it is time to summarize it all will need to summarize them with your goals and objectives and create your mission and vision statements. With all of the hard work you have put into your business plan already, this will be a piece of cake! Each of these serves a different purpose but are often confused with each other.
A mission statement describes what your company wants to do now. What is wrong with the world and how you intend to fix it? (What is the problem you are going to solve and how you are going to solve it?)
While a vision statement defines the business’ vision for the future. (What the world will look like AFTER you have finished fixing it.)
My mission statement for The Virtual Studio is: To assist women in connecting with their inner power to start, succeed, and grow with their dream business.
The vision statement is: To continually provide the tools and confidence to thousands of women entrepreneurs. Women who can, and will, achieve business success and accomplish the incredible.
Now, keep in mind, your mission and vision statements are not set in stone. It may take some time to nail down exactly what you want them to say. These statements are short representations of your business and they should be revisited at least once a year.
- Take a moment to reflect, come alive and determine your purpose. Why did you choose this specific business?
- No business is too small to have a strong set of values. What do you believe in? What guides you, what will guide your business?
- What is your Mission Statement?
- What is your Vision Statement?
Now, let’s talk about your product or services. It should be very clear on what you are going to provide and how you are going to provide it, especially now that you have vision and mission statements. When filling out this portion of the workbook, think about your customers. Selling your product or services is not about what you need, like, or want. It is about your client’s likes, wants, and needs and how are you going to fulfil these for them. Remember the first portion of the workbook you filled out? What problem are you going to solve and how are you going to solve it with these products or services?
- Products or services you offer are:
- You will deliver this by:
When you are pushing your business, people can tell. It just does not work. Gone are the days of just shameless promotion, because it is transparent and people tend to feel they are being conned. So, today you really have to love your work and what you offer. Being 100% authentic when sharing your message will allow your purpose to shine through and be able to sell a product or service without being sales-y. (Is that even a word?)
When I first started in the photography business, I was working with my mentor and was able to sell him like he was going out of style. I believed in him, his work, and his values. I knew his clients were getting the best of the best in both product and service. When it came time for me to leave the nest and go out on my own – the struggle was real. I didn’t believe in my capabilities as much as I did his. My lack of confidence shone through, my inexperience was obvious and my sales were horrible! It wasn’t until I really started to love my own work, have confidence in my own strengths and started to build my weaknesses into assets that my business started to skyrocket. My point is, the more you love and know what you are offering is going to help your clients and the more real and honest you are, with yourself and your customers, the more people will trust you and want to work with you.
So, complete your business model and your marketing message with confidence, authenticity and honesty because that is exactly what your customers are looking for.
- Will you offer a free product or service?
- How will you promote it?
- The offer you want customers to buy is:
- The price of the offer:
- Will you have an “upsell”? If so, what is it?
This may sound like the fun part, but really it is the part everyone doesn’t like because it starts with budgeting. This section should contain any and all financial information that is relevant to your business.
You will be using your business plan as a written description of your business’s’ future, so we need to look at how you will be investing in your business, expenses as well as profits.
You should track any ongoing business expenses you anticipate such as supplies, professional fees, marketing, insurance, and any others that may be required. What is the budget for this item and, of course, how much did you actually spend? This will help determine if you are under-budgeting certain aspects of your business, as well as help you see if there is any critical overspending.
Your budget should detail the money that’s going out, but you also cannot neglect to keep on top of money coming in. How much and where is it coming from? Are you able to diversify your products or services? What are your sales goals for each month?
Finally, I suggest you outline your plans for investing back into your business. Will you be looking at more advertising, taking courses, hiring a Virtual Assistant? What are the future goals going to cost and is there a budget for it?
I do not doubt, this section will involve some frustrating number crunching. But, whip out that calculator and tackle it head on!
- Monthly revenue targets:
- Monthly expenses:
- Yearly revenue targets:
- Yearly expenses:
Your Business Plan is complete!
You are spectacular for making it through this process. Doesn’t it feel amazing knowing that now you have a solid plan for your business? This is one of the hardest parts of starting your own business, and you did it! I am so excited for you and extremely proud! Now go and celebrate this accomplishment!