Here’s a little insider secret about solo professionals – less than 1 in 5 have a written business plan. Are you shocked? I’ve worked with smart self-employed solopreneurs for nearly six years now, and in that time I’ve come to understand why you don’t. Here are three of the top reasons:
1. Business plan templates often ask for information not relevant to your business, such as detailed plans for capitalization through old-business mechanisms such as bank loans and venture capital.
2. Commonly used biz plan templates often do not support newer business models such as Internet-only businesses, those with little or no physical inventory, or direct marketed businesses.
3. The templates also often short-change the marketing and customer service aspects of the business, arguably the most vital parts of business activity for micro-businesses.
Even though commonly used business plan templates or outlines don’t serve solo professionals particularly well, you still will do better in your business if you have a written business plan. So if the dirty little secret of your business is that you’ve done no formal planning, listen up! You need a plan! Here are just a few reasons why.
* Completing a solopreneur biz plan forces you to become clearer and more succinct about what you offer, and that enables you to talk to prospects (potential customers) in a way that attracts them to your services.
* A completed plan gives you specific goals to hit at specific times, which allows you to review and reflect how you are doing up against what you said you could do 3 months, 6 months, or a year ago.
* Often even more valuable than both of the above, having a plan helps you avoid the “bright, shiny object syndrome” that so many of us have. It gives you a quick way to judge whether the opportunity is a distraction or something that will actually help you hit your goals.
There’s much more that proper business planning can do for solo professionals. And by proper, I mean planning that is crafted specifically for a small, solo business that operates out of the home (or a small solo office). While you don’t need a huge plan that talks about venture capital and bricks and mortar buildings, you still will benefit from thinking about your structure, your goals, and your timelines.
I suggest that you block out just 30 minutes twice a week, and begin to build a simple business plan that helps you guide and build your business. Give it six months, and you’ll find your business has grown in ways you didn’t expect!