Business Planning 101: How to Make a Business Plan in
What is business planning?
Business plans aren't just for corporate giants. They're the secret weapon for startup ventures, small businesses, and solopreneurs too. A well-crafted plan is your vision or roadmap, showing you where to go and how to get there.
A robust business plan influences major decisions and helps propel your growth. This blueprint defines your business identity, sharpens your objectives, and sets the course for hitting revenue targets.
So, don't make any ordinary plan. Make your personal game plan.
More on business planning
Ever notice solopreneurs who have a million brilliant business ideas yet they’re stuck in a cycle of zero progress? Without a game plan, enthusiasm and ideas can only take you so far.
The articles below provide more insights into creating your game plan.
Looking for more articles about business planning? I have a full list at the bottom of this page.
What to include in your business plan
At a minimum, your solopreneur business plan should include:
- Executive summary: A high-level snapshot of your business
- Business description: What your business is about and what makes it unique
- Market analysis: Who your customers are and what they need
- Organization and management: Who's on your team and how you structure your business
- Service or product line: The product you're selling or the service you're offering
- Marketing and sales: How you'll attract clients and encourage repeat business
- Financial projections: How your business will make money and grow
Beginner’s guide to creating a business plan
1. Understand your purpose
Starting your business plan begins with an important question: Why are you launching your business? Is it for time and work flexibility? For extra money to save up for a house? To help others fast-track their success and avoid the blunders you've made in your journey? Clarifying your purpose is extremely important. This 'why' will be the compass guiding every detail you put into your plan.
2. Write your executive summary
An executive summary is a solopreneur's best pitch. Think of it like a billboard that tells the world what your business is (but in about 1-2 pages). Talk about your target market, mission plan, what makes your brand stand out, the main product or service you're offering and how you plan to win against competitors. I recommend crafting a rough draft and revisiting it once you have a full overview of your plan.
3. Detail your company description
Your company description is where your business comes to life on paper. It's a close-up look at your product or service and the positive impact it brings to your customers. Explain what you do and how you're solving your customer's problems. This isn't the place for modesty. Flaunt your unique strengths, and make your readers believe in your business as much as you do.
4. Conduct market research
To provide a solid offering, you need to understand the people you’re marketing to. Who's out there, and what, exactly, do they want? Who's already trying to give it to them, and what are your competitors' weaknesses? Keep an eye out for trends, hungry customers, and the competition. Here, you're hunting for proof that people need what you're selling and that you have a firm grip on the pulse of your market.
5. Outline the organization and management
Every business owner runs a tight ship, and having a clear business structure is part of that. Are you a sole proprietor? A limited liability company (LLC)? Are you doing everything on your own, or will you have employees to help? Will you hire or outsource? Who are your helpers? Are there any third-party lifelines you rely on? If so, what are they?
6. Describe your products and/or services
When describing your products or services, focus on the value you're bringing to your customer. For example, if you're a writer, don't just list the different kinds of writing services you offer, but show what problems you are solving and how you can make their lives better or their businesses more successful. You're not selling a product or service — you're selling an outcome, a better tomorrow. A more positive future.
7. Plan your marketing and sales strategy
This is where you illustrate how you'll attract, convert, and retain your customers. You should be able to explain your plan simply. How will people learn about you? How will you turn an interested social media follower into a loyal customer? Finally, outline your customer retention plan. How will you keep them happy, returning, and promoting your business to other potential customers?
8. Develop financial projections
Financial planning is essential to your business's future. A financial forecast is a model that shows your business idea can (and will) be profitable. Outline your income projections, expenses, balance sheets, sales forecast, and cash flow statements for the next 2 years. These numbers will guide your business decisions and help measure your progress.
My simple 5-step business plan
1. Publish free, high-quality insights on social media: People want value. And where better to offer it than on social media, where your future tribe is already hanging out. Consistently share your expertise to build credibility and generate interest in your brand. Become the go-to authority in your niche. As your community grows, so does your pool of potential customers.
2. Link to a hub piece of long-form content: People want to scroll through bite-sized content. So, I keep my insights punchy and scannable. But I also know some people crave more. That's where my long-form content comes in. At the end of my social posts, I invite readers to dive deeper with a link to an extensive blog post or guide where I share more of my knowledge and expand on my ideas.
3. Link to my courses: Every long-form content piece should have clear next steps for the reader. You've reeled them in and served up solid insights…now what? In my case, I lead them to my courses to take their learning to the next level. By doing this, I'm not just offering a product. I'm offering an opportunity to evolve and grow. Be direct and show people the path forward.
4. Encourage people to buy: When a reader has clicked on a link to my course, my job is to make the buying decision and process as effortless as possible. To do that, I place a purchase button right on the landing page so folks can find it. I share testimonials from hundreds of other customers just like them. I make the checkout process swift and seamless so customers don’t experience bottlenecks that might make them second-guess their decision.
5. Deliver more value: Once a customer has spent their hard-earned dollars on my courses, it's my turn to 'wow' them with exceptional value. Here, I offer greater depth, going into the nitty-gritty of what I share on social media and my blog. My goal is to provide such a transformative experience that it compels my students to share it with others. That's value that echoes — and sells itself.