Writing a kick-ass business plan means creating a three-dimensional overview of your business. To do that, you need to know what areas of your business need to be covered in your planning. But before we get to that, let’s figure out what a kick-ass business plan means to you.
When I say ‘business plan’, does it make you think of brainstorming and identifying your mission and vision? Are you caught up in wondering who you’re going to serve and where you’re going to fit in within the market?
Were you thinking in more technical terms like the kind of structured, finance-based plan that is used to attract investors or bank managers?
Or do you just want an overview of all these, so that you’ve allowed for all stages and won’t be frantically back-tracking, down the road?
The best way to decide what type of business plan you need and totally fool-proofing your business from the get-go starts with making sure you correctly identify and account for all areas that need to be covered… from the most soul-satisfying aesthetic details to the iron-tight, legal business set-up, and structure.
Business Plan Step One: Narrow Your Focus and Get Clear on What You Do
First want to narrow down your focus and your target market.
A big mistake that people make when writing their business plan is trying to be everything to everyone. Another common mistake of solopreneurs setting up or looking to expand their businesses: Being afraid or hesitant to step up and claim a place with top influencers in their niches.
You owe it to your clients to position yourself as an expert influencer within the specific niche you know you can serve.
Own it. Claim it. Do it.
You can do this by narrowing down your focus and establishing your brand.
Keeping your niche focus as specific as possible will help you make the most of every opportunity within it, as well as truly become the expert you need to be. A vital part of narrowing your focus lies in comparing what you plan to offer to your nearest competitors, as well as to the market in general. Once you’ve done this, it should be easy to see where you fit in and articulate that in your business plan.
There is a perfect place for you—a sweet spot that will allow you can help the right people in the highest numbers and make the most money while feeling revitalized, alive, and in your zone. Here’s how to find it:
- Make a list of your top competitors. Do this for at least 6-10 competitors. What will you plan to offer that will complement each competitor’s specialty or fill their gaps? Decide where you fit in. Finally, identify what you can supply that your competitor isn’t.
- Research and query your actual target market: Get a conversation going, join discussions, poll the right potential clients, do your homework. Whenever you think you’ve completed your business planning, get even more specific and drill down even further in each and every area.
- Write a mission statement: Not only will this help you with branding when you’re ready to set up your website and offerings, but it will also give you clarity about what you do, why you do it and who you do it to help.
- Write a tag line for your business: Once you’ve identified your specific mission, your tag line should simply target the right people. It sums up what you’re all about.
- Give yourself a specific title: Your title shouldn’t just summarize what you do or identify who you serve; it should also differentiate you from your competition.
Business Plan Step Two: Nailing Down Your Best Business Structure
Now that you know what your business is all about, who you want to serve, and how you’d like to do this, discuss your proposed business with a business lawyer and/or accountant.
Don’t skip this step! This is a really sound precaution and investment at this time—particularly if you are aiming to make serious money and hit that 6 or 7 figure mark. Spending money on a lawyer and/or accountant will help you save and make money safely and more quickly in the future.
Another good reason for not skipping this step: There are several different types of legal business structures, and you can sabotage your own business by not choosing the right one.
Your main decision as a solopreneur is most likely to involve choosing between a Limited Liability Company (in which the business itself is a legal entity, separate from you) and Sole Proprietorship.
Two short but extremely helpful (and readable) books:
- Easy Legal Steps That are Also Good for your Soul By Lisa Fraley, JD; Legal Coach® and Attorney
- Oh Snap I’m Making Money Now What? By Chris Morris, CPA
Both books are clear, concise, and full of heart and humor.
Another option to consider—especially if you know your legal business needs are more basic: Rocket Lawyer.
Be prepared. Give yourself the essential knowledge you need to choose the right structural, legal steps for your business—and the confidence to make the most of consulting with the right CPA or attorney.
Business Plan Step Three: Plan and Schedule Your Daily Routine
Once you think you’ve nailed down your business positioning and focus, it’s time to take it to the real world and ask yourself, “What does my perfect and most effective daily routine and schedule look like? What do I need to do, to make this happen?”
Plan your daily schedule and your daily routine and rituals for consistency. The more consistent you are, the more you can show up for your clients and potential clients, create offers and solutions for them that will speak directly to their pain point so that they’ll want to hire you for the long term to help them with their needs.
Decide in advance how you will set up:
- Your day – How will you portion your day between family, hobbies, downtime, work, health, and other activities?
- Your availability – Will you:
- be completely unavailable during your designated work hours or available for part of your day (e.g. mornings only)?
- have set periods during the week?
- only be available to paying members of your VIP club? To subscribers? To course participants?
- allow people to contact you by phone, email or website contact form?
- be available for local events? One-on-one clients only? Online group clients only? A combination of all three?
- Your working schedule:
- Do you want to work 20 hours a week, 30 hours a week, or 40 hours a week?
- When will your workday start?
- How much of that time is available for appointments?
Business Plan Step Four: Set Your Financial Planning Basics
You need to start out with a basic financial plan as part of your set up process. You’ll need to set financial goals for yourself and research how many clients you need to serve in order to generate the income you need to meet that goal—including covering business expenses and taxation.
If you take the time to set the annual or monthly amount you want to make and divide it by your number of clients and fee per client, you may quickly realize that a one-on-one model is not going to work for this particular goal.
The first financial action it’s best to take:
- Open a business checking account
If your company is an LLC or S-corp, this is actually mandatory. So before you get into specific systems to use or products to create, make sure you do set basic financial goals—and open that business checking account!
Another part of sound financial planning: Knowing what your competitors are charging and making sure you don’t underprice yourself. The prices you set will also determine, to a large part, the type of clients you attract.
Business Plan Step Five: Plan for Balance
Plan your business as thoroughly as possible, including your goals, milestones, deadlines, and targets. Now, having done that, also allow for fluidity.
The best business plans are concrete, but also flexible. They include room for ongoing:
Always go back and do a monthly review at the end of each month.
Are you finding that you’re able to complete your tasks? Are you able to manage your business well? Is the foundation of your business working? Does it need to be changed? Does anything need to be enhanced?
What do you still need to work on? What is working well, and what is not? Are you meeting your milestones and deadlines? If not, what is the problem? What did you not allow for? What’s not working the way it was supposed to? What do you need to “lose” or add?
When you make a habit of performing regular, consistent monthly tracking and analysis, you will always know exactly what’s going on with your business—and what’s urgently needed.
You should also do this quarterly, paying particular attention to sales and revenue.
When you’ve got all these aspects sorted out and planned, set your business plan to ‘paper’ (digital or physical).
Make an actual business plan. Think of it as a map. Roads may be added, a new highway may make a winding part of your route obsolete, but keep it focused on getting to your destination. Don’t get overwhelmed by the journey, but just keep going from way-point to way-point towards your goal.
With the right legal and financial setup, and a solid business plan (or two or more) in writing, you can move forward with confidence to make the most of your business.
Are You Feeling Stuck? Do You Need A Little Clarity? If your head is swimming with all the ideas, schedule a 1:1 Strategy Session with me. In this 90 minute session, you’ll get all the personalized actionable advice, resources, and inspiration you need to get on track and laser-focused on your business goals. Schedule your appointment today.