How to get started on a business plan

Writing a business plan

Want to start working in the independent contracting space, but stuck on writing out a business plan to get started? Creating a business plan can seem daunting, but according to the Small Business Administration, this foundational document “is an essential roadmap for business success”, even if you are a company of one.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Think 3-5 years out and where you see your company growing in that timeframe. Who is your ideal clientele? How many projects do you intend to take on at a time? Are you open to travel for work? Do you want to work full time, part time or both? Will you need to hire an assistant? Do you need specific certifications to get started? Don’t be afraid to dream big, but understand the resources and skills necessary to meet your goals now and in the future.

The length of your business plan is important. While this may be your baby, a plan that is too long can get confusing not only to you, but anyone else who will use this document for guidance – the bank, your accountant, your lawyer, etc. In other words, don’t be afraid to be short and to the point. Make sure to clearly state your goals and objectives and keep it strategically organized. The plan itself should be no longer than 20-30 pages of text with up to 10 pages for addendums and supporting documents.

Set clear objectives. To do this, you need to ask yourself a few questions. This section is going to be one of the most important, if not the most important, of your plan, so consider starting with this checklist:

  • How determined am I to succeed and follow through with this business idea?
  • How much personal sacrifice am I willing to make in order for my business to succeed? By this, I mean, how much personal money am I willing to spend and/or invest? How many unpaid hours am I willing to work?
  • How much will I suffer if this doesn’t work out?
  • How large of a company do I eventually want to grow into? How many clients? How many hours a week/month/year do I want to work?
  • How much do I foresee annual revenues growing each year? How much will they have grown in my 3-5 year timeframe?
  • What is the target market of my business? Will it serve to a niche market or a broad market?
  • What will the demographics of my business be?
  • How much will I initially have to invest in the business?
  • How long do I expect it take for the business to turn into a profit?
  • In that 3-5 year time frame, what are the expected profits?
  • What will happen, financially, if the business fails?

Don’t forget about marketing. Marketing will be one of the foundational elements to your personal, business success. The impression you leave on potential clients, hiring entities and project managers will be hugely important for the long term success of your brand. If no one knows your services exists how are they going to work with you? Consider putting these marketing strategies in your business plan:

  • Have a social media presence. Today, social media is one of the fastest ways to build your brand. However, this doesn’t mean that every social media site is necessarily appropriate for your business. Consider which networks are going to help build up your work pipeline and ultimately help reach your target audience.
  • Establish a marketing budget. Setting a realistic budget ensures you know how to prioritize your marketing efforts to grow as your company grows. This includes business cards, paid job postings, etc.
  • Practice inbound marketing. When you are a solopreneur it can be hard to prioritize work for your business with your regular billable hours and client work, however, investing a small amount of time in networking and growing your business every week will pay dividends over the long run.

We hope these tips and tricks can help get your business plan off the ground. Looking for additional resources? Check out what the Small Business Administration and Entreprenuer.com has to say on writing an excellent business plan to get started.