After months of searching for a business plan template that suited my needs as an online business owner, I gave up. Every business plan I could find was super formal and stuffy or a single sheet template that was basically worthless. Ick.
I needed something that would force me to think about my business in new ways. To set goals. And to make a plan for how I was going to accomplish everything I wanted to do.
I didn’t want to simply dream. I wanted to turn those dreams into reality through action.
Since I couldn’t find the plan I needed, I created it! A business plan template that’s built specifically for online entrepreneurs.
What is a business plan?
A business plan is a roadmap to the future. It helps you set your destination and calculate the journey. In the process, it also gives you an overview of your business, a look at your competitors, and the beginnings of your marketing strategy.
Why do you need a business plan?
Putting all of this information into a single document creates a strong foundation on which you can build and grow your business. You wouldn’t build a house without a foundation, right? So why would you start a business without one??
Let’s get these basic pieces in place before you travel any further and end up in a ditch somewhere wondering why your left shoe is missing.
What should you include?
Traditional business plans are ginormous, tedious things typically used for securing a business loan. Luckily, most online businesses don’t require getting a loan. If you are looking for help with this kind of plan though, I recommend checking out Score.org. They have an incredible template that’s a bit of an industry standard.
For my fellow online entrepreneurs, I’ve created a template that’s less taxing but still thorough enough that you’re going to need to set aside a few hours — yes, hours! — to complete it. A few hours now could save you buckets of time and money down the road.
Inside, you’ll find these sections:
- Business Basics
- Legal Structure
- Target Market
- Mission, Vision, Values
- Customer/Client Policies
- SWOT Analysis
- Marketing Plan
Mistakes to avoid in your plan
- Skipping sections — Business plans are laid out in such a way that each section builds on the previous one. You should not jump ahead at any point. Finish each section before moving forward.
- Spelling and grammar — While you probably aren’t trying to get startup capital for your business, you should still put as much time and effort into your plan as possible. In the future, you may need this or a similar document to expand your business. You can also share it with new employees and contractors as a way for them to learn more about your business.
- Being too vague — Once again, I’ll remind you that you should take your time with this and really think through each page of the business plan template. Make your answers specific and detailed.
- Denying your weaknesses — We ALL have weaknesses. Even your online entrepreneur idols have some. Ignoring those weaknesses will put you on the fast track to failure. Be honest with yourself and then make a plan to work through those issues.
- Having unrealistic expectations — It’s important to dream big, but you also need to be realistic. You probably aren’t going to make $5,000 the first month that you blog. And you probably aren’t going to make 6-figures your first year as a coach. Those goals are absolutely achievable but set a realistic timeframe for yourself so your business dreams don’t end in a puddle of disappointment.
A business plan is exactly what it sounds like… a plan that helps you go from $0 to making your dreams a reality.
I’ve turned my online business plan into a full business foundations course! It’s called Organize Your Business 101. Check it out if you’re ready to create your own business plan!