NOW is the time to work on your annual business plan, whether it’s January 1 or mid-June. You see, business changes rapidly, and what you decided six months ago might not be accurate anymore. Perhaps you’ve got a new product to launch, or a new competitor has arrived to shake up the field.
Many people quake in fear at the idea of writing a business plan. They imagine in their mind a 100-page document full of charts and financial figures. Ugh!
While it’s possible to create a business plan of that magnitude when trying to get capital for your business, a typical business plan for self-employed people should be less than 10 pages.
The purpose of a business plan, for a self-employed person who is financing his own business, is to have a central repository for all strategic thinking about the business for the coming year or two. Whether you’re a start-up or you’ve been in business for a while, writing a business plan will help you solidify your thoughts, goals, and strategies.
Here’s what should be included:
- Your business idea in three sentences.
- Your target audience.
- The challenges that your target audience faces.
- The benefits of using your products and services to meet those challenges.
- Your company brand and image.
- Your projected revenue and expenses for a year.
- If you project more expenses than revenue for the year, a statement about where the money will come from to pay for those expenses.
- A list of your major competitors, and how you are a different (and better!) choice for your customers.
- At least six marketing techniques you’re planning to use over the coming year, when you plan to implement them, and what results you expect from them.
- The preparation work you need to do in order to launch your marketing techniques and keep them up-to-date.
- Any major new products or services you’re launching in the next 12 months, and how these will help your business.
- A list of people who you will need to hire to implement your business plan or marketing plan (unless you have the business skills and time to do all the work yourself).
Review your business plan and update it annually. I recommend reviewing the marketing section of your business plan quarterly, so that you can gauge the success of your marketing campaigns.