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Productivity / Business plans

Business plans: Writing a business plan

‘Business plan’ remains a dusty, conceptual notion for many soloists. Here’s how to bring business plans to life so you can start achieving this year's goals right now.

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Many of us don’t bother with writing a business plan because we feel that we know the general gist of our own businesses and just want to get on with it. Some of us are forced into writing business plans to secure a loan or sponsorship deal.

Those of you who actually have written a business plan just for ‘you’ have every reason to feel pretty virtuous right now. But do you regularly tap into it? How useful has it been?

At its heart, business plans are a list of business goals. Typically it will also include details of how and when these goals are supposed to be conquered, what obstacles to those goals might crop up and how to get those obstacles into a suffocating headlock. It is also best to include certain background information – i.e. what your business is about, who your clients are, who your potential clients might be and who your competition is.

If you don’t know how to write a standard business plan and want to give it a go, there are a zillion sites with downloadable templates to help you out. The Australian Government has a pretty comprehensible list of approaches to writing a business plan.

"The trick is to make our business plans part of our conscious lives."

Even if you produce a business plan you’re super proud of, chances are you’ll end up filing it away. This is certain death to your document.

Even if you have a more creative execution of your plan, chances are you’ll become blind to it. For example my article on Mind Maps may have prompted a business plan that is more like a colourful mural stuck on the wall or appears as your screensaver. But after a couple of weeks do you still really see it?

The trick is to make our business plans part of our conscious lives.

How do we keep those goals fresh, active and manageable on a regular basis?

What I’m about to suggest takes time, but I urge you to give it a go as it will set you up for the entire year.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business plans section.

1. Break down goals

Goals need to be broken into monthly and even weekly mini goals. You need to articulate how they are going to be achieved and when.

It is often difficult to be accurate on how long things are going to take, but see this as a starting point from which you can mould your plan into something feasible.

2. Feed your goals into your working life regularly

Here are some ideas as to how you might want to make your business plan live:

– Set up your Outlook auto-reminders with your goals, whole and broken down, in accordance with your timeline.

– Commit to regular weekly/monthly meetings with another soloist or a soloist group where everyone reports on how reaching those goals is coming along

– Every Monday morning change your desktop image to an updated goal that’s in line with your business plan.

– Set a memo on your mobile phone every week.

– If you do want to put a message on your whiteboard, update it weekly in conjunction with your goal plan.

3. Make it fun, friendly and inspiring

As the above list may feel like self-harassment, you may want to make those messages and meetings something to spur you on rather than an exercise in finger waving. Think about what you enjoy.

– Inject some humour into your Outlook auto-reminders and set rewards when each is achieved.

– With those soloist ‘goal re-cap’ meetings go to a café you all really like and treat yourself to some of that chocolate jaffa cake while you’re there!

– When writing a new message on your whiteboard draw a cartoon or add an inspiring image cut out from a magazine next to it.

Remember that goals can and should change as new business opportunities arise. When this happens I recommend adjusting your original business plan document (yes, pull that file!) then update your Outlook auto-reminders and so on.

The success of implementing any of these ideas is to know what is going to work best for you. Maybe you have some different ideas on writing a business plan that can be shared with the rest of us. Let us know below.

Megan Hills

is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys helping others be engaging and understood. Through her marketing, publicity and graphic design nous, she can maximise the power of what you want to communicate to the people you want to reach.

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