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THINK ABOUT IT: If you had to drive to an unfamiliar location, the first thing you’d do is plug the destination into your trusty ol’ GPS, right? Damn right.

So why would you start a business by jumping on the highway before you knew where you were headed? Sure, the scenic route is nice, but time and money (like the fuel in your car) will only last you so long before you have to pull over.

>> Also Read:

It’s Never Too Late to Start Planning

When people find out I’m an entrepreneur, they often ask “How did you start your first business?” My honest answer is… “It just sorta happened. I never planned on it.”

I wish I could say I had an elaborate business plan written and bound before I decided to take the leap, but my side-hustle (a boutique design studio that eventually became a six-figure business) actually started out as nothing more than a few pages of scribbles and brain-dumps in a dollar-store notebook.

But that’s also why I’ve experienced my fair share of mistakes, self-doubt, confusion, and tears of frustration along the way.

I probably could’ve also achieved my goals in half the time if I had just spent time upfront to plan everything from the beginning. Here’s what I wish I’d done from the start. 😅

 

 IN THIS POST: 

I’ll show you a no-fluff approach to writing a CRAZY SIMPLE business plan.

Don’t freak out — it’s not 100 pages long, because honestly, that’s unnecessary.

I’ll show you a scaled-down version below, and also include a fillable template for you to download — it’s easier than you think!

Whether you have yet to start a business, or you’ve already jumped in, it’s never too late to get yourself on track to make sure you’re headed towards your dreams!

 

Why Do You Need a Business Plan?

  • To develop goals that you can measure your efforts and results against
  • To craft a strategy for slaying those awesome goals
  • To execute with clarity in your direction, so you can focus on the right things to get you there
  • To communicate ideas with mentors or potential business partners
  • To set the foundation for a more formal business plan if you ever need to seek outside financing (ie. bank loan)
  • Because a few hours of planning upfront saves you days (or years) of frustration down the line
  • Because in your mind, everything is a “good idea”… until you write it down. WARNING: You might have a few revelations (or change your mind) while you’re doing this — don’t worry, it’s a good thing!
  • BONUS: You can leverage alot of this stuff in your website and sales copy!
 INSIGHT:  This isn’t meant to be a one-time deal. A business plan is fluid, and could change as your business evolves. You’ll get the best results by revisiting your plan AT LEAST annually (maybe every few months if you’re just starting out) and updating it as necessary.

NOW, go grab a coffee ☕️ (or Red Bull) and make yourself comfy — You’re about to make some magic!

  • DOWNLOAD my FREE Crazy Simple Business Plan Template — it’s a fillable PDF so you don’t have to start from scratch!

Crazy Simple Business Plan - FREE Template

Tablet bizplan (sml)

Finally, an easy 8-Step Business Plan template that focuses on the no-fluff important stuff! You'll get an instant download of my FILLABLE PDF to get you started fast!

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THE CRAZY SIMPLE BUSINESS PLAN

Expand the sections below for more guidelines.

It may look a bit daunting at first, but remember that your answers could just be a few sentences — no need to go crazy with it, unless you want to of course! 🤘

 #1  OVERVIEW

Your Mission Statement

This is the raison d’être for your business — These are simple, yet profound questions, so you might be better off continuing with the rest of the plan and come back to this one later on.

 

Ask Yourself:
  • What is the purpose of my business?
  • What problem are you solving?
  • Why is your business needed?
  • Is there a gap in the marketplace I can fill?
  • Who are you serving? (also see Ideal Customer Avatar)
  • What difference do I want to make in the world?
Your Why

WHY do you even want to start + grow this online business anyway?

HINT: “making money” alone is not good enough! You’ll need to be really dedicated to the cause, and passionate about what you’re doing to carry on through those tough times.

 

Ask Yourself:
  • If my business or life could be ANYWHERE 3-5 years from now, what does it look like?
  • What do I hope to accomplish?
  • How will success make me feel?
  • What are my core values that I want to bring into how I do business?

 

 #2  YOUR TARGET CUSTOMER

Your Ideal Customer Avatar

Craft a “profile” of the ideal customer you want to serve in your business. This is an important exercise because once you know WHO you’re creating for, so you’ll know what products, message, branding, or experiences will resonate with your perfect customer.

 TIP:  Get as specific as possible, as if it were ONE person. If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll end up appealing to no one.

 

Ask About Your Ideal Customer:
  • What’s their age / gender / location / income level?
  • What do they love?
  • What are their frustrations?
  • What are their fears or aspirations?
  • What will my product or service help them achieve?
  • How do they want to feel when using my product or service?
Where You'll Find Them

Figure out where they’re spending time in their everyday lives, so you can make sure your business appeals to the same demographic with a consistent look, feel, or type of experience. You can almost think of this as stalking your ideal peeps (but in a non-creepy way!)

 

Ask Yourself:
  • Where do my ideal customers hang out?
    • Physical locations could be: a certain coffee shop, or retail stores they shop at
    • Online locations could be: websites they visit, blogs or social media handles they follow
    • What shows do they watch, or what magazines do they read?
Why They'll Want to Buy From You

If your product or service is something to be desired, there are likely many others offering the same thing in the marketplace. What’s the unique factor that makes people want to buy from you?

Also see What’s My Competitive Edge?

Is it your years of experience in your industry that makes you a knowledgeable expert? Perhaps you bring top-notch customer service or unparalleled quality with a handmade touch? Often, injecting your one-of-a-kind personality into your brand (quirks and all) will make your business more personable and relatable. After all, people buy from those they like and trust.

 

 #3  YOUR BUSINESS MODEL

What Are You Selling?
What are customers going to pay you for?

 TIP:  Savvy entrepreneurs often have multiple streams of income in their business to diversify their revenues. Brainstorm ideas for products or services that are complementary, so that they can be sold in different forms to appeal to different customers.

 

Ask Yourself:
  • Will I sell a product, service, or a combination?
  • What am I really good at creating?
  • What am I knowledgeable or experienced in?
  • What can I share it or teach to someone else?
How + Where Will You Sell?
What sales channels will you use to get your goods out into the world? Consider the costs and benefits of your options, and where your ideal customer hangs out.

 

Ask Yourself:
  • Will I sell in person or from a physical location?
  • Will I sell online from my own website, or a third-party marketplace like Amazon or Etsy?
Pricing

Pricing can be a bit of an uncomfortable topic for business owners, but it’s one of the MOST IMPORTANT elements to consider because the right pricing strategy gives you the greatest opportunity for growth and success.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re charging enough so that you’re profitable in terms of your “gross margin” at the product or service level, even if you’re not profitable overall (at the “net profit” level) when you’re first starting out.

 

Ask Yourself:
  • What is my pricing structure? (by item, by project, hourly, subscription?)
  • Can I offer bundled package pricing?
  • How does my pricing compare to my competition?
  • How much profit do I expect to make on an average sale?

 

 #4  COMPETITION

Your Competitors
It’s an important part of your business strategy to understand how your competitors are playing the game!

List 3-5 other people, businesses, or brands who are in the same playing field as you. Make sure they’re not totally out of your league though — the point isn’t to become the next Apple or Starbucks out of the gate.

What's My Competitive Edge?
How can you differentiate yourself from your competitors? These will be the elements you focus on in your branding, marketing and strategy so that you can stand out from the pack!

 TIP:  Sift through testimonials on your competitors’ products or services to see real feedback from their customers — You’ll get valuable insight on what they’re doing well and where they fall short.

 

Ask Yourself:
  • What are my competitors’ strengths & weaknesses?
  • What do I admire about them?
  • What can I do better than my competition?

 

 #5  OPERATIONS & PROCESSES

Business Structure

How will you legally structure your business? Some options include: Sole proprietorship, Partnership, LLC (in the US), or Corporation.

 NOTE:  Each country and geographical location may have its own specific legal and tax implications. The decision may be complex, and should consider many factors about your personal situation and business strategy. It’s a good idea to have a discussion with your accountant or lawyer about this.

 

Consider things like:
  1. Ease and cost of getting started — it’s quicker and cheaper to start as a sole proprietor, instead of a corporation, which requires more paperwork, and has more annual filing requirements. Generally, more paperwork = more costs + more headaches!
  2. The risk level of your business — some entities like LLC or corporations will ensure some protection over your personal assets in case of lawsuits or defaults.
  3. Growth goals — do you have plans on bringing in additional partners or selling your company in the future? If so, the sole proprietor option is not a good fit for long-term planning.
  4. Tax planning — Some legal entities will be more tax-effective than others, but it depends on your situation.
    •  FOR EXAMPLE:  You’d generally be paying higher income taxes as a sole proprietor (taxed at your personal rate), instead of as a corporation (which have lower corporate tax rates).
    • However, in some cases this could be beneficial — If you’re incurring business losses in your early years as a sole proprietor (or an LLC in the US), you may be able to write off allowable business losses against employment income from your job on your individual tax return. If you were a corporation incurring losses, those losses would have to be kept in the company to carryback or carryforward, offsetting taxable income from another year.

 

More Simple Reads:
Business Operations
How do you intend to run your business? This is the day-to-day game plan. The more clear you are on the actions you’ll take every day, the more likely you’ll stick to this. Make sure your plan is realistic and manageable for your lifestyle.

 INSIGHT:  Most ideas start out as side-hustles until you have a good track record of success and results that will propel you to the next level. This area in your business plan will change ALOT as your business evolves and you figure out what works (or doesn’t work!)

 

Ask Yourself:
  • How many hours am I prepared to dedicate to my business every week? Every month?
  • What commitments will I need to shift around to ensure I have consistent time to work on my business? (ie. you may need to “outsource” certain areas of your life like childcare, house cleaning, or reduce some time on fun outings or entertainment so you have more time to hustle as you get this off the ground!)
  • Do I need some extra time to brush up on any skills or knowledge before getting started?
Also Read:
Your Team
Who do you need on your team? In the beginning, you’ll likely need to wear ALL THE HATS in your business to save costs, and to learn from the ground-up. Over time, you’ll understand that you can’t possibly do it all if you want to take things to the next level.

Break down the various tasks or functions into different “roles”. Think about ways to hire or outsource help to fill these “roles”. This will help you free up your time to focus on things that ONLY you can do.

 

Ask Yourself:
  • How can I break up the end-to-end process in my business into distinct functions? (TIP: think about different departments in a large company, or take a look at an “About” page for various players in your industry.)
  • Which tasks do I LOVE doing? These are probably things you’re good at, and you might keep doing yourself.
  • Which tasks do I HATE doing? These are things you should outsource to someone with skills or experience more specialized in that function.
  • What kind of help will I need to hire? Full-time, part-time, or project-based help?
  • Can I outsource these tasks to a Virtual Assistant (VA) for lower cost than I’d pay a local employee?

 

 #6  START UP COSTS + FINANCING

What Are Your Start Up Costs?
What are your initial costs? This is money you’ll need to have on hand to shell out upfront before you start bringing in revenue.

 

Start Up Costs Can Include:
  • Business registration fees
  • Branding costs
  • Website hosting + development costs
  • Specialized tools or equipment
  • Product research, investment etc.
  • Any professional memberships, training or certifications
Operating Costs
What are your day-to-day operating costs? These are the costs necessary to run your business and keep the lights on, and doors open. Estimate your operating costs, on a:

  • monthly — If you have yearly costs, just divide by 12 to get an average monthly number.
  • annual basis — This number should feel slightly scary, yet motivating! t gives you an idea of how many sales you need to bring in to break even!

 

Operating Costs Can Include:
  • Rent + Utilities (hydro, electrical)
  • Equipment servicing or maintenance
  • Inventory storage costs
  • Monthly subscription fees for business tools or memberships
  • Telecommunications (phone, internet)
  • Car payments and fuel (portion related to business use)
  • Payroll for employees or Contractor fees
  • Insurance (business, rent)
  • Legal or Accounting fees
  • General & administrative (ie. bank fees)
How Will You Fund Your Business?
Where will you get the moolah to start and run your biz? This is one of the biggest considerations when you’re first starting out.

While some business models require more capital than others, there is no business you can truly start “for free” – You’ll need to invest some money to get started, or pay with sweat equity!

 TIP:  Bootstrap the business as much as you can on your own dime. Set aside at least 3-6 months’ worth of estimated operating expenses so that you have a comfortable amount of starting capital.

 

Sources of Funding:
  • Personal savings
  • Borrowing from Friends or Family
  • Bank Loans or Credit
  • Angel Investors or Venture Capital
  • Equity
Financial Goals
Who’s had dreams of diving into an Olympic-sized swimming pool full of dolla dolla bills? I’m definitely guilty of that! But financial goals don’t have to include things we see in rap videos — They can be simple and modest.

 THE KEY:  Make financial goals quantifiable, measurable, and realistic so that you can actually measure your progress against numbers. Progress keeps you motivated!

 

Ask Yourself:
  • How soon do I intend to turn a profit?
  • What’s my break-even point?
  • At what point will I be able to replace my employment income?
  • How much money do I need to live the kind of lifestyle I want? HINT: Aim to pay yourself that much from your business!

 

 #7  MARKETING

How Do You Envision Your Brand?

The world’s most successful companies have memorable brands. Branding is WAY more than just a fancy logo and nice graphics on your website…

Your brand creates the experience and emotions that customers have when they interact with your business.

The visual elements of your brand will, of course, include the design of your logo, colors, fonts, and overall aesthetic of your website, packaging, or presentation. But don’t forget the intangible things you bring to the table, like your voice, your personality, and your core values.

There’s a saying that goes “Facts tell, stories sell”. Your story is going to be an important part of what you stand for, and be a way to connect with your customers or audience.

 

Ask Yourself:
  • How do you want your customers to FEEL when they’re browsing your website, or visiting your store?
  • How do you want people to react when they’re reading your emails? Blog posts? Watching your videos?
  • What colors or fonts help to convey the feelings my customers should feel when interacting with my brand?
  • What’s something about me that my customers can relate to? Find common threads in your lifestyle, business struggles, goals etc.
Marketing Plan
How do you intend to get the word out about your business? I always say “If you build it… they will NOT just come”. Because they don’t even know you exist. Actually, it’ll be a whole lot of crickets in the beginning, but don’t take it personally. Everyone started at zero customers at some point — A raving fan base takes time to build!

What outcomes are you hoping to gain from your marketing efforts? What social media channels should I focus on building a following on?

 

Ways to Market Your Business:
  • Promote on Social Media — see more in Social Media Strategy
  • Promote through Online Influencers — Read more about What Influencers Do
  • Build an e-mail list — crucial for establishing a relationship + building trust with your audience
    • MailChimp is a great free solution that creates beautiful emails.
    • I swear by ConvertKit to manage my subscribers. It was made by a blogger for bloggers!
  • Run your own affiliate program — This is a game-changer for online businesses. Having your product listed on an affiliate marketplace gives you access to a network of affiliate marketers who are eager to promote your product on their websites, blogs, and email lists.
    • One of the most reputable affiliate marketplaces is ShareASale. Great for products and membership sites.
    • For simple digital products, SendOwl is a great option that has built-in payment processing and easy affiliate integration.
  • Paid advertising — Can be done through print ads or online channels such as Google Adsense, or sponsored articles and social media posts
  • Get featured in the media — You can guest post on well-known blogs or publications, or be interviewed
  • Get listed on business directories where your potential customers will be searching for vendors within a specific industry or service niche
  • Attend industry trade shows to network with fellow vendors and meet potential new customers
  • Word of mouth and referrals — This will never get old!
Social Media Strategy
What social media platforms will you use to promote your business? These days, social presence is a MUST, but it can also feel like major time wasted if you’re not sure if your efforts are paying off.

 

 TIP:  Choose ONLY 2-3 social media channels to start building your presence on, before branching out to others. Stick with the ones you enjoy using the most. It’s better to have larger or more engaged followings on even one platform instead of a lackluster following on every platform.

 

My Go-To Social Media Resources:
  • Planoly  This is an app I use to visually plan and schedule my Instagram feed. I love being able to preview my grid to make sure my feed has a cohesive look! I can write out all my captions in advance to schedule for auto-posting. It’s a huge time-saver!
  • Trello A free visual planning app I use to manage my weekly social media calendar. Items are tracked on cards you can move around between boards, and it’s super user-friendly.
Must-Read:

 

 #8  GOALS + OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

How Do You See Your Business at: 6 months, 1 year, or 5 years?
This one gets the best results if you really dig deep. Try to hone in on both qualitative and quantitative business goals — Don’t be afraid to dream big!

 TIP:  Make sure that your goals are SMART:

  • Specific (identifiable by a clear outcome)
  • Measurable (quantifiable in numbers or result)
  • Achievable (realistically attainable given where you are now)
  • Relevant (related to the topic/issue you’re trying to address)
  • Timely (with a defined deadline)
My Go-To Planning Tools:
  • Slay Your Goals Planner This is a 60-page printable planner that takes you through the process of setting intentions, figuring out your end goals, then breaking them down into doable action steps.
Good Reads:
How Will You Improve Your Skills?
One thing you’ll quickly realize once you start your business adventure is this:

There’s ALOT OF SH*T YOU DON’T KNOW.

It’s the #TRUTH, and there’s no shame in it. The quicker you realize this and accept it, the better off you’ll be! If you’re gonna be successful, make it your mission to keep mastering your craft. Learn how to do things better and smarter. Stay relevant of what’s happening in the industry. Basically, keep nerding out. 🤓 KEEP LEARNING.

I’ve personally invested THOUSANDS of dollars in online courses throughout the years, and I’m not stopping anytime soon. I’ve gone on learning shreds because I genuinely enjoy seeing new perspectives and taking in new knowledge to improve myself. I see learning as an investment that will pay off multiple times over once I apply this stuff to my business.

More importantly, good courses SAVE YOU TIME in the long run. They help you get results faster instead of scouring the dark corners of the internet trying to make sense of free information. We all know TIME = MONEY!

 

My Fave Learning Resource:
  • CreativeLive This is an extensive library of online learning catered to creative professionals. Youcan learn ANYTHING from refining your Photoshop skills, to public speaking, to writing sales copy, to health and wellness, there’s a course for you!
    • Check out the course How To Make a Living Selling What You Make by Megan Auman. She’s a successful jewelry maker who goes in depth on how to start a profitable handmade business, from product conception all through marketing and long-term business planning.

 

CONGRATULATIONS — You did it! 👏🎉 

Doesn’t it feel AMAZING to have FINALLY created your BUSINESS PLAN?

All those thoughts that were floating around in your head are now all written down and ready to be brought to life. Now you can venture forth with confidence as you embark on your entrepreneurship journey with your plan as your guide!

 

Are you about to start a plan for your kick-ass business? What’s your business idea?

I’d genuinely love to hear it in the comments below!

Cheers,

 

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Crazy Simple Business Plan - FREE Template

Tablet bizplan (sml)

Finally, an easy 8-Step Business Plan template that focuses on the no-fluff important stuff! You'll get an instant download of my FILLABLE PDF to get you started fast!

Powered by ConvertKit
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