Why it’s so important to create a business plan

business plan plan Nov 27, 2019

"Some’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago" – Warren Buffet

I admire people who have a plan. I’m naturally a kind of ‘live for the day’ person.

Don’t get me wrong. I am incredibly good at planning, especially when there’s a client and a deadline involved. I’m talking more personally. When I was younger, planning for the future never really crossed my mind.

My other half, Sam, is someone I admire very much. Not just because he buys me flowers ‘just because’ and always makes sure there’s a stash of chocolate in the fridge (my choice of poison). He has a completely different outlook to me.

He had his life planned out from a very young age. And when I mean young, I’m talking about his teens. He knew what career path he wanted to follow, went for it, kept an eye on where he was going, tried different things along the way, tweaked it when it needed tweaking and now, he’s sitting in the shade of the tree he planted a long time ago. He retired at 45 years old.

They say that opposites attract. And that’s us. He’s very grounded and business savvy. So much so, he’s become one of my mentors.

In last week’s blast  I talked about how I ended up working at least 60 hours each week. That went on for not just months but YEARS.

Then I got to breaking point. One day something insignificant happened and I blew a gasket. BIG time. Total melt down! (This was way before I met Sam.)

One of my friends who I’ve known for a long time and has a background in business as a problem solver, sat me down and talked me through what had happened. He’d offered his help in the past, but I always thanked him for the offer but never took it up.

After the melt down, he became a mentor.

Taking time to stop, think things through and see it from someone else’s perspective kick-started me on a different path and changed my mindset.

There may be some of you out there wondering how on earth I allowed myself to end up working ridiculously long hours. Well, I can tell you. When you get into the behaviour of just facilitating clients without a plan, you end up continually working in what I call ‘survival’ mode. You don’t think about anything else other than getting through what needs to be done.

And that is one of the reasons why it is important to create a plan, a routemap for your business, and review it on a regular basis.

So, what do I think a plan should include? Here are some ideas:

  • What you’ll call your business
  • Personal survival income - how much you need to earn to pay your current bills
  • Business overheads - running costs for your business
  • How you’re going to fund your start up business – projected business overheads
  • How many hours you want to work and what your boundaries will be
  • How much you want to earn annually
  • What services you’ll offer
  • What’s your unique selling point (USP) – what makes you different from other VAs?
  • Who your ideal customer is
  • Pricing – how much you’ll charge based on proper financial calculations
  • Whether you will charge an hourly rate or package rate
  • If you will you charge ‘overtime’ rates for outside usual office hours
  • How you’ll get paid – BACS, PayPal, cheque
  • Your payment terms – Payment to be made 7 - 10 days after completing the work. Will you have a percentage deposit before work begins for larger projects?
  • How you’re going to market your business
  • Understanding who your competitors are
  • What your contingency fund will be to cover any quiet times, sickness, unforeseen circumstances when you can’t work
  • How will you plan in personal time
  • Where you’re going to work – consider privacy and confidentiality when choosing your spot
  • Determining your business structure – sole trader, limited company


You plan doesn’t have to be set in stone. In fact, it should be fluid so you can adapt and change over time.

If you would like a business plan template, I’ve created one you can download for free. It will guide you through some areas you need to think about when starting a business.

To grab your copy CLICK HERE

Here are the sections covered in the plan:

  • Business Details
  • Skills and Qualifications
  • Personal Survival income
  • Your business USP (Unique Selling Point)
  • Pricing
  • Aims and Goals
  • Marketing
    Profit and Loss Forecast for Years 1 and 2
  • S.W.O.T Analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
    Personal Time

 

How I made changes

The change in my business came about when I began being mentored. I really started to rethink things through. I also looked for online programmes to study, books to read and tools that would complement each other on my journey.

One of my favourite planning tools is The Daily Greatness Journal

You don’t have to go through what I’ve been through.

If you’re thinking about starting your own virtual assistance practice, my advice would be to create a plan right from the very beginning.

And if you’ve been running a business for a while and don’t have a plan in place, it’s never too early to create one, just like I did.

Having an overall routemap of your business also means you can split your goals into smaller manageable chunks. This will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and losing heart.

Whatever tools you find to create your plan, choose ones that work for you and are easily accessible so you don’t forget about them.

As the great Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

 

Disclaimer: All the above is based on my experience. No guarantees are made that you will achieve results from my ideas and techniques in my material. If you want business and legal advice, seek out the appropriate associations who can provide you with professional advice.


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