You might call me unprofessional but I must admit I’ve never written a formal business plan for Blacksburg Belle.
Not in the traditional sense at least.
Of course, I’ve done lots of goal setting and planning for my business. But, I’ve never put my company overview, industry analysis, competitive analysis, marketing plan, operations plan in a document all nice and tidy like.
For one reason, I think planning should be fun.
Instead of overwhelming myself with an uptight business plan, I journal about what I want my business to look like in one to three years.
I use the ‘painted picture’ technique from Cameron Herold’s book, Double Double. If you’ve never heard of the painted picture technique, read the free chapter available on Amazon right here.
For another reason, I feel like those formal business plans don’t address the most important topics when you’re planning your business.
I’ve never read a business plan that started with how much the person wants to work each day/week and what type of work she wants to be doing.
And, I think that’s the MOST important part.
If you build a business without thinking about how you want your business to fit into your life, you’re going to end up miserable, stuck in a job that you created. And, that sucks.
To avoid that trap, I’ve got five questions you should consider before you ever write a business plan:
1. How much time do you want to spend on work each day and week?
You may have to spend A LOT more time in the beginning, getting things off the ground, but you should be working towards a business that allows you to have a life. For instance, I worked with knitter who had to knit about ten to twelve hours a day to make enough money. She didn’t realize that’s the type of business she set up until she crunched the numbers. In order to deal with this, she started selling a lot more patterns and then raised her prices for her custom knitwear pieces. She almost doubled her profits in less than six months and decreased her hours significantly.
2. What does your ideal workday look like?
Map out your ideal workday from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall asleep. How can you build a business that supports that kind of ideal day?
When I started Blacksburg Belle, I knew that I wanted to take a break midmorning to walk my dogs every day. I also knew that I wanted to cook and eat most lunches and dinners with my husband which meant I needed to have time to do those things.
3. How much profit do you want your business to make each week and month?
First, your “need number” and “want number” are different. Need means the cost to pay the bills—the basics. Want means everything above that, including vacations, shopping, eating out, retirement fund, etc. Knowing how much money you need and want to make is critical to success. Once you’ve determined that number, you can look at your business to see if it’s realistic. If not, you need to make some changes.
4. How many people do you want working for you? What are those people like and what do they do for you?
First, you’ve got to decide if you want to be a one-woman show. If not, what tasks would you like someone else to take over? What qualities do you want the people working for you to have? Are your employees virtual or local?
5. What are your favorite parts of your business? What do you enjoy the most?
Your answer to this question should tell you what you should be spending the majority of your work time doing. This is your superpower—use it! If there’s a lot of stuff you don’t like doing, you may be the perfect person to hire employees to take over those less-than-exciting tasks.
Write these questions in a journal and take your time answering them.
Come back to them and re-answer them at least once a year because things change. Then, plan your business around your answers and you’ll be incredibly happy.