Not all business plans need to be equal. Recently we looked at the importance of a killer business plan for getting funding for your new business. However if you’re not trying to raise capital to start your new business, your plan is as much to help you as it is to impress anyone else. Sage Business Expert Antoinette Oglethorpe runs through what’s important to consider if you’re starting up self-employed.
Generally, a business plan for self-employment should be from two to four pages. It should be a good guide but not so complex that you won’t want to change it, because it will change. Updating your business plan as your business grows is important if it is to remain relevant to your evolving business needs and priorities.
A typical business plan for someone becoming self-employed as a consultant, coach, trainer or other freelance role should include the following sections.
1. Mission Statement
A short mission statement of 30 words or so should succinctly state why your company exists, what services it will provide, and to whom.
2. Business Goals & Objectives
This section should describe the top three to five goals and objectives you have for your business. For example:
- To achieve at least a 30% increase in annual revenues every year
- To make more than £50,000 annually
3. Products and Services Offered
This section should list the full range of products and services you will provide. For example: one-to-one business coaching, career coaching, executive coaching, leadership development programmes, team coaching, corporate training, workshops, seminars, coaching skills training and a how-to book on tips for managers as coaches.
4. Target Market
This section should provide details about your ideal target client. In my experience, this is the area that most people new to self-employment need most help with. They feel resistant to focus on a specific market because they enjoy working with all kinds of people on all kinds of projects. But by trying to market to everyone, they dilute their message and, in their attempt to reach everyone, end up appealing to no-one.
A competitor is anyone or anything a prospect can and will spend money on that they perceive will achieve the same or similar results and benefits as you state that your services will provide.
Consequently, while the most obvious competition will be other individuals and business doing what you do, you may also have competition from other individuals and companies who offer products and services designed to address the same issues you help your clients address.
6. Professional Background
If you are your product or the person providing the service, people are hiring you for you – your style, your experience, your background. So be honest about what you say.
They are also hiring you because they think you will be a better fit for them than any other individual so be wise about the points you want to emphasise in your professional background.
7. Sales & Marketing Strategy
Here is where you list all the different marketing techniques and strategies you will use to identify prospects and land new clients.
8. Financial Forecasts
This is often the scariest part of writing a business plan. One of the reasons start-up businesses fail is lack of available funding to keep the business going. This section should include the following:
- The funds you currently have available (cash in hand for expenses)
- A 12-month timetable in which you estimate how much revenue you will bring in per month
- A comprehensive list of all expenditure
- A simple profit-and-loss (P&L) statement in which you subtract your anticipated expenses from your anticipated revenues. This should give you a good idea of how much money you need to have on hand to properly fund your business.
Often, the easiest way to write up and keep track of these financial statements is by using Excel or another spreadsheet programme, but the most important part is the actual process of calculating the numbers.