What is a Business Plan?

Photo from: The Company Line Blog
A recent tweet from Rachel Lawley got me thinking about whether freelancers, consultants and contract employees could benefit from creating a business plan for themselves. But before we get into whether or not you need a business plan, let’s establish what one is.

Rachel is an Interactive Communications Manager who works as a consultant in business development. She acknowledges that creating a business plan can be intimidating. But, she says, in the end, it is worth it.

She recommends the template and guide on The Small Business Association. The main sections of a business plan are:
1. Executive Summary
2. Business Description and Vision
3. Defining the Market
4. Description of Product(s)/Service(s)
5. Organization and Management
6. Marketing and Sales Strategy
7. Financial Management

“Because companies that provide services can get a little stickier than those that provide products, don’t allow yourself to skip questions because you don’t think your service will have as much of an impact as a product,” Lawley said.

Her best advice is: don’t skip a question and say you’ll come back to it.

“Write down the first things that pop into your mind, and then allow yourself to come back to it,” she said.

That way, you have a good starting point.

“My theory is the more you dig and question these things when you’re still just starting, the stronger and more prepared you’ll be later,” she said.

Lawley says it is possible to run your business without a business plan, get clients and in two years, end up exactly where you want to be.

“Picture this, though: two years from now you want to develop a website for your services,” she said. “How are you going to sell your services? What do you want to specialize in — what type of client, industry, focus? Simply read through some of the templates for plans and you will get a good idea of what kinds of questions some of your competitors already know the answers to.”

Every business, large or small, should be keenly aware of the areas a business plan prompts you to think about – those areas help you define your company’s goals and purpose. Because the bottom line is, you want to make money, even if it is just a little on the side now.

Come back tomorrow for more details on why freelancers, consultants and contract employees should consider penning a business plan.