This week, I was a guest on my Mastermind friends (Kate Loving Shenk and Joan Adams) Blog Talk Radio Show – Moo, Moon and You, The Collective Wisdom.
When they asked me to be a guest, they initially wanted to talk about Women In Business, specifically Internet Marketing. However, when we started talking, the discussion got to the importance of planning to a business and just how important Business Plans really are.
Kate felt that she had been running her online business with more of a ‘Ready, Fire, Aim’ approach and Joan echoed the sentiment too… so, the whole show got me to thinking….
When I first decided to start an online business, I didn’t know what I wanted to or even how I wanted to do it. Of course, through my many searches, I found sites that offered me the ability to get started today and start earning money. After several months of trying to work out how to promote whatever it was I had signed up for and not doing too well, it dawned on me that I really had no plan in place. I didn’t know who my target audience was, I didn’t know what my goals were (expect to make money) and I didn’t really know if I believed in the product or not.
The discussion yesterday really bought home to me, just how many other people are in the same boat when they decide they want to start an online business and many don’t even know where to start the planning process…. So I thought I would share some broad thoughts here about what you need to consider.
A business plan is simply a blue print for how you want your business to look. It is, in essence, a collection of several smaller plans that work together. However, certain parts of the business plan need to be done before other parts. The main components of a business plan are:
Business Overview –
What is the business, how did it come to be in existence, what’s the vision for the business?
What are the legalities of operating a business?
Yes, even an online business may have certain legal requirements – checking with your Better Business Bureau or (in Australia) your local Government Agencies will give you a good start
What are the business risks?
Some risks to consider include Security of Investment, OH&S, Insurance and Liabilities
What is the market size, demand and saturation?
Just how big is the market your looking to target and how many competitors really exist?
Who is your target audience within that market?
Trying to target everyone in that market will not work particularly well – by defining a narrow portion of your market (or even several narrow portions) you will be able to craft a message and ‘brand’ that speaks directly to that target audience.
You will also know exactly WHERE to talk to them (generally without having to spend a lot of money in advertising).
As you develop these individual components, your business plan will come to life. A business plan doesn’t have to be reams and reams of paper. It just has to address the salient points that will allow you to steer your business to success.
Your business plan is a living document, as you and your business grow and adapt, so should your business plan. Taking time out each Quarter to review your business plan against reality is a worthwhile thing to do – as it will ensure that you stay focussed and on track.
Does it all sound a bit much? Still confused or maybe even more confused? I hear you – it took me years to develop the understanding of how important a Business Plan is. Even now, I just want to ‘go and do it’ – but I know better. I know that I will not only achieve success faster by taking the time out to plan, I will save a lot time, energy and money by doing so.
I have been working with several clients over the last 9 months to devel0p their business plans – each and every one of them have told how hard, time consuming and boring it is, but when the plan is ‘completed’ they have all agreed that it was a great process to go through and that their vision for their business was far more developed and clear than they had thought possible.
Each of these clients have a great chance of success, simply by taking the time to plan – what will you do, if you take the time to plan?
I do coach a small number of clients individually to help them develop their business plan. If you would like to know about my coaching services, please use one of the methods on my contact page.
Some resources that you may find useful: