Do you have no idea what you are doing, but you are doing it anyway?
When you start a business, the "experts" tell you that you MUST create a business plan because it's so crucial to the success of a business. Conventionally, business plans are primarily used to access funding such as a bank loan, but the important purpose of a business plan is to get you informed and focused. This post is part of the Series, "Wake Up Your Blog with a Morning Cup of Planning."
Experts recommend to anyone who starts their own business to have a business plan, and blogging can be a business (it can also be a hobby). Following expert advice and templates of business plans, Blogging As I Learn It give you a more customized version for writers, bloggers, graphic artists, and other internet endeavors.
So many blog posts and free printables and templates... This series could be an ebook. Oh wait! It will be some day. Check out the whole series below.
What is a business plan?
A business plan is a detailed outline of all the facets of your business. According to Wikipedia,
"A business plan is a formal statement of business goals, reasons they are attainable, and plans for reaching them. It may also contain background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those goals."
Why have a business plan?
For most businesses, the business plan is a vital role in receiving funding from third parties like bank loans and government grants, and most templates are geared to that audience in particular. For bloggers, however, it can also be a great supplement to send potential sponsors and people you want to work with.
The most important factor of a business plan is that it gives you vision and focus. Without thinking of all these things, one can easily be-bop around the internet clueless and lost, like a drunk girl at the club who can't find her friend and stops to talk to everyone along the way until she forgets she even has a friend with her. When you decide to get serious about your internet endeavors, the Business Plan is a great first step to help you grow.
Planning the Plan
I know it sounds crazy to say, "I have to plan my business plan?" but yes you do. It's a bunch of layers of planning like life and onions. This is the part where you decide what you really want. What are you going to do? Who are you doing it for? How much money do you want to make? How much money are you making?
In most business plans, first half outlines WHAT YOU ARE DOING. The second half outlines WHAT YOU PLAN TO DO. What you are doing is there to guide you through making decisions on what you plan to do.
WHAT YOU ARE DOING serves two primary functions:
- To inform readers who don't know all about you and establish credibility, reputation, history, and so forth.
- To help yourself plan and put things in perspective
You want to list out a lot of what you have done and are currently doing when your readership wouldn't know that information, such as applying for a small business loan. If you are writing an informal plan, you may not need to write everything down that you are doing, but you do want to think about it and keep it in the back of your mind to give you perspective. What are you already doing? What is working? What isn't working?
WHAT YOU PLAN TO DO is the main point of creating a business plan. This provides you with a list of objectives, focus, and things to do. It's more than just a to-do list. If you do all the parts of this series, you'll have a great idea of who you are, who you want to be, and how to consistently incorporate all the facets of what you do into that focus. This will help with blog design, images for blog posts, social media posts, and so forth.
Components of the Plan
Many different kind of templates exist for a business plan with different headings and subheadings. The organization of your plan should be most determined by your needs. The SBA (Small Business Association) provides a very basic template that should cover most business needs.
For purposes of blogging, the final draft of a Business Plan COULD include any of the following topics. Consider these H1 Words.
- Executive Summary
- Mission Statement
- Company Description
- Organization and Management
- Industry Analysis
- Market Analysis
- SWOT Analysis
- Value Proposition
- Marketing Plan
- Funding Request
- Financial Projections
The executive summary is a basic summary of all the things you are doing, and probably should be written last. It's like the "In Conclusion" paragraph, but presented first in the final product.
The executive summary does the following:
- Grabs attention
- Convinces Success
- Highlights the key areas of your plan
- Defines what you will sell and who will buy it
- Where you are and where you want to be
- How you will help people
The mission statement is a well crafted, short and simple elevator pitch. It includes the company's purpose, target market, the contribution to society and how it's distinct from competition.
This gives an overview of your company. It shows how long you've been in business and highlights key areas of growth. It also shows how the company provides solutions to varying problems.
Organization and Management
This describes the business type (proprietorship or LLC), the owners, and bios of key management.
The industry analysis describes the playground in which your business is playing. It summarizes basic statistics and projections for the industry while taking note to future possible issues (like changes in the law).
The market analysis describes the kids who are playing on the playground your business is playing. It summarizes who your customers are and what they are doing. This is where you decide a target market for both sales and readership.
Here is a basic market analysis for 2016 for blogging. You will have to add your own information for current readership and target market.
SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This takes a look at your competitive edge.
The value proposition describes key features that makes you valuable to the world. It defines strengths and competitive distinction. The important proponent to the value proposition is to define who you are on an About Me page, and to define a pricing strategy (premium products or cheap ones?).
There are many ways to create a marketing plan, but the focus should be on the 4 P's of Marketing: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Here you describe the various products you offer, their prices, the pricing strategy, the distribution channels of your products and how you plan to get seen and heard.
The funding request defines how much money you are looking to get, how you will spend it, and how you will pay it back. It also shows an exit plan in case things fail.
If you are an existing business, here you provide 3 to 5 years of basic finance reports to show a historical view of your finances. Then you create 5 years of finance reports to show what you think you'll make in revenue and expend.
The appendix is a place to show additional information beyond the Business Plan. It may include resumes, credit history, pictures, additional statistics, articles and source information on statistics and research, legal documents, contracts, intellectual property...
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