Why go to the trouble of writing a business plan and doing market and competitor research? All you are doing is putting up a website! Yes, but your website is a business, and if you want to succeed, you have to know what success looks like.
Writing things down has a profound psychological effect. In the case of writing a business and marketing plan, the goals you set will be the driving force of your business.
You have these ideas in your head, you know what you want, why bother writing them down?
Here are a few reasons why:
- A goal written down is a goal accomplished. By putting on paper your mission, values, and vision, you are building a pathway and direction where you want your business to go
- Financing. Every business, at some point, wants/needs to borrow money to keep going. Setting up a website does not take a lot of expense, but once you get into it until you start making money, you will feel like your business is a funnel zapping your personal savings account.
- You can take it to the bank. A business plan tells the lending officer what you are up to and how you are making money.
- A business plan makes your business look real. It is a way to show yourself, and the world, you are serious about starting a business.
- You put your thoughts down where you can see them. A plan makes a great reference tool when you get bogged down and forget what you are up to.
LET’S GET STARTED!
Feel free to copy the categories as a template. These are the basic components of a general business plan. This is your business, your plan, use what is appropriate for you.
THE BUSINESS PLAN
What are you out to accomplish? In another blog, we talk about platforms. The mission statement is the basis for your platform. You will use it with your logo because it tells the world what you are about. A mission statement is also part of your elevator pitch, so it needs to be short enough you can rattle it off whenever someone asks you about your business. Here are a few examples of companies that make their point in a few short words.
- Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
- TED: Spread ideas.
- IKEA: To create a better everyday life for many people.
Do some research and see how companies write their mission statements. Pay attention to logos and how they are used. The mission statement for this site is:
“Everything you need to SUCCEED with CBD Oil Affiliate Marketing.”
What are your goals, what value do you want to give the world? This is my vision for you.
“To provide the tools necessary to build a money-making affiliate website. To share what I’ve learned with you, so that you, too, can make money through affiliate marketing.”
What are your values? These are personal statements that drive your business:
“To treat all people with respect. To exhibit top-quality work with a strive for excellence.”
What is your business about, what do you expect to accomplish with your business?
“Books, blogs, articles, and resources on matters that influence the family.”
Are you a sole proprietor, a limited liability corporation (LLC), a nonprofit organization, or perhaps a corporation or partnership? An LLC offers tax protection that a sole proprietor does not have.
Whatever designation you decide to make your business, make it legitimate and buy a business license from your secretary of state. Some states are more user-friendly than others, and it is perfectly okay to register your business in another state from where you live.
Consider using a Registered Agent. If you register your business with a registered agent (RA), they take care of all the licensing for you. Find one that also provides the Articles of Organization that you need to file for your business. These are time-consuming and tricky to write, but an RA will do the heavy lifting for you.
Another advantage of a registered agent, that is very helpful for online businesses, is that you use their address, not your personal address, which offers a buffer from internet scammers.
Description of services or products
In the case of my business, I list writing, advocacy, and affiliate marketing. Write a brief description of each of the services and products you offer. The “affiliate marketing” was added to my plan later, but remember, a business plan is a living document. Your plan grows with your business, and you will need to update it from time to time to meet the growing needs of your business.
What is your business about? You described your services and products, now how do you plan on getting the word out? A few lines from my business plan:
- Research and write books for self-publishing.
- Build reader and sponsorship networks.
- Social networking, both online and in person.
The physical location of your address, and if you are using a registered agent, that address as well.
Management and Personnel
What is the name of your position? Are you a CEO, a chief executive manager (as in LLC), an owner. Define your role here. The number of employees, if any.
A brief description of your accounting system. Are you cash-method basis or accrual basis.
- With the cash method, revenue is recorded when cash is received, as are expenses when they are paid during the year. Expenses are reported in the year they are paid. If you buy something in December but do not pay for it until January, the expense would be tallied in the new tax year.
- With the accrual method, when you generate income, you record it, whether or not you have the actual payment (check or cash) in hand. Expenses also are recorded at the time of the transaction, when you place the order, not when you pay for the items.
If you are running a high risk-business, it is necessary to protect your assets. If you are a small business owner with little risk, it is not as imperative to have liability coverage. An LLC doesn’t carry as much personal risk as compared to a sole proprietor, and this is another reason why LLCs are something to seriously consider.
Measurable, Timely, Accountable
Project over the next five years what your business will look like. Unless you have low overhead and high demand for your product, the first two years will not see much of a profit. Businesses are established and have a good customer base by year five. Drill down the plans for your goals into 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-year time slots.
Here we are, at the crux of the matter. Turning a profit. This section is no different from making a household budget. What are your expenses, how do you expect to pay for them until the business starts making money? In this internet world, it is anyone’s guess how much money you will make. Some people make 7-figures a year, some are lucky to make $500 a month. The chart below gives a good idea of how much work you need to put into your website to make money, per month, with affiliate marketing.
In this section, you summarize the high points of your business plan.
An executive summary goes at the beginning of your document and summarizes what your business plan is about. The final summary does basically the same thing. Why do you need both? Well, it is your plan, you can do what you want with it, but if you need financing, the lenders often look at these two sections first.
Your plan does not have to be lengthy, and it certainly will not be 100% accurate, because things change. You change, what you want for your business changes. All you need to do is put your ideas down on paper so you can see what your business is about. This clarifies things in your mind and gives you a goal to shoot for.
If you follow these steps you will have an active, living business plan in no time.