Are you one of those people that gets caught up with planning and ends up doing nothing? Do you do too much and plan not enough?
We all fall under one of those categories when it comes to starting a business, making money on the side, or crushing student credit card debt. They say that an ounce of action is worth more than a ton of theory. Then there’s also the argument that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
One thing that I’ve struggled with is creating an actual business plan. I’ve always been a fan of working hard and making money. I just never outlined a clear process for doing so. I guess you could say that I treated free as a business model. In reality, free is not a business model by any stretch of the imagination. You don’t have to ready any sort of business plans for dummies book to realize that you need a clear outline for how you plan on making money.
I always figured that if you build it, they will come. I thought that starting an online business was about putting out a well-designed blog and propping it up with high quality articles. Then somehow the money would come on. Right?
In late-2010 I had to create a formal business plan for a course that was coincidentally titled, “Creating a Business Plan.” I was supers-stoked about this because at this point I had been blogging for a few years and I had already dabbled in a few business ideas. I had always wanted to prepare a business plan. The opportunity never came along.
My excitement quickly turned into the same mundane feeling that I got with every random random business project. We were forced into groups of four by the professor (chosen randomly) and then given topics on a first come, first served basis. I didn’t get to work on anything cool in other words.
I’ve written about excelling in tough college courses before, so I wasn’t a stranger to doing well in courses I didn’t care for. However, one of the main reasons that students fail college is that they choose the wrong courses. This is what happened to me. I thought that I was going to get to create an innovative and useful idea that I could share with the world. Instead I was stuck with some arbitrary product with a group of people that just wanted to get by. At the end of the semester, I learned how to put together a 100 page business plan for the sake of getting a decent mark in the class. I didn’t know how to create a business plan that actually made real money.
How can you design a business plan that leads to real money?
I realized that the whole business plan came down to a few key concepts. I ended up taking online courses, attending conferences, and reading every single book on the topic and related areas. I eventually came to an understanding of what a true business plan is all about.
If you want to create your own business plan that makes you real money, you need to answer the following questions:
- What will your product be? This can be your time (consulting), a physical good, or a digital item.
- How will you sell it? You have the option of selling online, in person, and through various channels.
- Who will you sell it to? Someone has to be willing to buy this product (target market).
- How will your potential customers find out about it? You need to find a way to get the word out there (marketing).
- How much will you charge? Have you determine your price yet? Free is once again not a business model.
You just have to be able to answer these questions if you want to write a business plan. If you want to prepare a business plan for yourself and not any formal funding, you just have to be able to answer these questions on your own. Once you answer these questions, you’ll have yourself a slick one-page kickstart for your brand new business idea.
I just wanted to mentioned one more thing before we part ways today. As I’m reading through the $1000 Startup book I found an interesting line on taking action:
“There’s nothing wrong with planning, but you can spend a lifetime making a plan that never turns into action.”
To make money with any freelancing idea you need to solve real problems where people are actually looking for solutions.