Have a great business idea? Struggling to stay focused and moving in the right direction as you launch your new business? Need startup capital?
Sounds like you need a business plan!
This is especially important if you consider yourself a solopreneur.
A lot of solopreneurs (individuals who go into business by themselves) often get so caught up in the day-to-day of actually building, launching and running their solo careers that they forget to treat themselves like an actual business! This is even more prevalent in creative industries and in individuals who pursue their life's passion as a career.
Creating a business plan for yourself or your future creative business is not only going to legitimize what you are doing, but it will also give you a clear picture of how to actually achieve your dreams and build a thriving business.
It also opens you up to more opportunities should you need investment funding, grants, or fiscal partnerships.
When you are more organized with a business plan, it shows you are serious about your business goals.
So, what exactly IS a business plan?
Here are some key sections you should include in your business plan:
1. Executive summary
I like to complete this section last, after I have worked my way through the other sections of the plan and have a more solid understanding of my business. The executive summary should capture your reader's attention and clearly illustrate why your company is being created and the impact it will have on your target audience. It should summarize some of the key points throughout your business plan, and that is why I prefer to complete this section last.
2. Company description
This is where you get to set yourself apart from the rest. You should communicate your mission statement, core values, and vision in this section. Keep it concise and clear for the reader to understand who you are and what you do.
3. Market research
Do your research on the market you want to serve. Who is your ideal client? What are the demographics in the areas you plan to do business? Are there others in your niche doing what you want to do, and how successful are they? This part of the process can take some time, but will be the one thing that sets you apart in the long run.
4. Description of products/services offered
This section is probably the easiest to complete. What will you offer (classes, workshops, choreography, counseling, products, etc) and at what prices?
5. Management & operational structure
If you are a one-person company (solopreneur), this section is easy. Explain how you will manage the company and list any employees you might bring on board in the future.
If you plan to open a brick-and-mortar business or nationally traveling company, you will need more employees and operational support. Who are the key people you will be hiring, and what are their titles and roles? Using a flowchart is super helpful here.
This is also the section where you will establish what type of business you will be running. Is it an LLC? Sole proprietorship? S-corp? Talk to a tax professional and small business attorney to figure out the best route for your business.
6. Marketing & sales strategy
How will you get the word out about your products/services? How will you make sales? Who are you targeting? How will you attract clients? Lay out your marketing plans and break down how you will utilize each method (social media, print, broadcast, etc).
Investors and fiscal partners want to see your numbers. If you are brand new to the game and you do not have a financial history for your business, use your best judgment and research to create a financial projection for the next 3-5 years. This is where your market research comes in handy! If you are unsure on this area, sit down with your accountant to discuss realistic projections.
Here is where you will include all of the supporting documents that help your business, such as licenses, permits, articles of incorporation, your resume, and even credit history and examples of contracts you plan to use.
You can certainly get more specific and tedious with your business plan, but those are the essential sections to include. When you're just getting started, even having a one-page, thoughtful summary of what your business plan will become is better than nothing. As you dig in and really get serious, your business plan will become a multi-page document that will keep you focused on growth.
Something to remember. . .
When you write your plans out, they become more real. And this is how we achieve the success that we dream about!
Now that you have the basics down, go spend some time crafting your own business plan and begin to feel more empowered in your solopreneurship journey!
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