I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I LOVE that I’m seeing more bloggers taking steps towards becoming their own boss. It feels me with a warm fuzziness that is akin to the satisfaction of eating a delicious pizza, except without the inevitable bloat that comes afterwards.
Blogging is an industry that is ever-growing and changing, and running your own blog equips you with some fundamental skills that will also serve you well as a business owner. Time management, online marketing and pitching for business to name just a few.
But one of the key things I’ve learned in my short time as a freelancer is the importance of having a business plan. It might sound boring and restrictive, but it honestly doesn’t have to be.
I first started writing a business plan when I was working full time. I was side-hustlin’ and wanted to get the strategy out of my brain and into a Word doc so I had something to work towards. I got about 1/4 of the way through before I got bored of it.
Because I was doing it wrong. I was making it a dull, monotonous thing that should I ever go back to read it, I’d find more joy in watching paint dry.
It wasn’t until I met with a business advisor (free of charge business advice, yes please!), who sent me a template which turned business planning into something that made me feel more creative and motivated than I had been since first deciding to try this freelancing lark.
No template is perfect, and so I tweaked it a bit to suit what I wanted to include – and that’s what I want to share with you guys – how to write your very own freelance business plan that will light the fire in your belly to start being your own boss.
Oh, and there’s even going to be a free downloadable freelance business plan at the end of this series!
Getting started with your freelance business plan
Before you get settled and ready to write your business plan, get yourself a cuppa and maybe some biscuits. Although the process isn’t boring, it can be a bit of a drain thinking lots about your business and where you want it to go!
Writing a freelance business plan is your opportunity to really explore what you want to get out of working for yourself, and not all the answers will be easy to reach!
The Business Overview
The first part of your freelance business plan is thankfully the easiest part. Start with your business overview. This should include:
- Who is the business owner? (That’s you!)
- What is the business name?
- Where can the business be found online? (Website, social media channels)
This basic information is a good way of introducing your business plan, in case you ever need to share it with funders or advisors.
Next up, you should write a short description of the business. 1-2 sentences is plenty, as long as it sums up what the business does and who it does it for. For example, if you’re a graphic designer from Kent who works with small businesses, your description could be:
Providing graphic design assets including logos, leaflets, posters and letterheads to local small businesses in and around the Kent area.
The last part of the business overview section of your freelance business plan is to share what’s called your business proposition. This is sometimes called a “value proposition” and basically sums up the value you provide to your customers.
I bullet point my business proposition, summarising why small businesses need the services I provide and what makes my business stand out.
Why you started the business
This is an opportunity to reaffirm your reasonings for wanting to go freelance – list your experience and your values here. I use this section to mention my:
- Own values in terms of my business – helping those that are passionate about what they do, not charging extortionate agency fees
- Experience within the industry – over 6 years of working in digital marketing
- Specific knowledge such as copywriting, social media management, WordPress, Google Analytics etc
The Business Need
So you’ve covered off plenty as to why you have set up the business, but is there a need for it? This is the opportunity to brainstorm why the business exists which is a great way of starting to explore your potential customers… more on that later!
In this section of my freelance business plan, I talk about how small business owners are becoming more savvy about digital marketing practices but don’t have the time and/or knowledge to manage it themselves.
It’s important to also reflect on if there’s a gap in the market, and an overview of the competitor landscape (although we will go into competitor analysis later!).
The person behind the business
So this section is a short profile on the head honcho – you! What’s going to make you a superstar business owner? Look beyond the skills and think about you as a person.
- Are you hard working? Because you’ll need to be
- How will you come across to customers? Purely professional, or a little bit friendly?
You should include this in your freelance business plan because at the end of the day, you are the brand! It’s cheesy, but it’s oh so true.
The Business Operations
You guys, I cannot begin to describe how useful this section has been for me. When you first set up your business and are trying to get clients in quickly to earn that dolla, your processes will be all over the shop.
This section of the plan will give you some focus and at the very least attempt to apply some structure!
Under this section, I cover off my onboarding process, production process and feedback process. Think about the “customer journey” for your business and write it out in steps. It doesn’t have to be rigid or even particularly detailed, but take it from my experience that it will help you feel more confident overall about how you operate.
As well as the processes, in this section I also cover off:
- How work is delivered (e.g. formats such as Word documents, PDFs, Excel spreadsheets etc)
- Quality control – how work is checked before it’s sent to the client
- Any software and apps used for work
- An overview of running costs – this is just a bullet-pointed list of the basics
- Any third party involvements, for example if you are partnered or have a referral network with other businesses
- The payments process – how payments are made, and an outline of payment terms
Phew! That’s probably enough for the first part isn’t it? Next time we’ll be looking at:
- Customer profiles – how to build them and use them
- Competitor analysis – who are they, and why are you better?
- Services – what services you offer, and how are you pricing them?
- Mini Marketing Plan – a way to figure out what marketing you need to do to reach more clients!
Don’t forget, in part 2 I’ll also have a free freelance business plan template for you to download and fill out! Ya lucky so and so’s.