You’ve read so many books about building your small business (you have, haven’t you?) and if you’re like a lot of creative business owners, when you got the part about “Writing a Business Plan” your eyes glazed over and your mind filled with overwhelming thoughts of dread…then you skipped to the part where they talk about marketing instead.
Question of the week:
Do I NEED a Business Plan?
question mark by marco bellucci via flickr
The short answer is: No. You don’t *need* a business plan to run a business.
The not-so-short answer is: No, you don’t *need* a business plan to run a business…but you’ll probably WANT to have one if you want to make sure you stay on track and find your way to success with your business!
Unless you are seeking formal financing from a lender or private party, you really don’t have to create an formal business plan. Instead, think of it as a list of goals that will help give you some direction and allow you to make good decisions about everything from marketing plans to new product ideas.
It needn’t be a stuffy list of points and comparisons, either. As long as it covers the following points, the goals you set will serve you well as you travel along your road to success:
- What do you do / make? (How do you make it?)
- Who are your customers and why do they buy from you?
- What are your short term and long term goals for your business?
- Who are your peers and how is your business different from theirs?
- Who helps you with your business?
- What do you make and why is it great?
- How much do you make now (gross and profit)?
- How much do you want to make in the near / far future?
- What is your plan for getting to that goal?
- Create a list of milestones – monthly, quarterly and/or annually – these will help keep you going as you reach each one.
Please remember this: Just because you write all of these descriptions, goals and plans down doesn’t mean that you can’t change things as your situation changes. On the contrary – one of the great things about working for yourself as a creative professional is that you can shift and change as much as you need to!
My advice: Don’t fret too much about all of this planning stuff. It’s really just an exercise that helps you write down all of those thoughts in your head about your business that keep you awake at night and keeps them all in one place so you don’t lose all of your good ideas!
Do you have a business plan / goal setting plan? What do you like about having one? Please share your story with us in the comments!