The pandemic’s effect on business has been staggering: In 2020, 163,000 businesses closed on Yelp during the first six months of the pandemic alone. On the flip side, many more businesses made it through, and a lot of those actually thrived. To be successful last year (and to continue that success into 2021 and beyond) meant knowing how to pivot, be creative and find ways to stay relevant. The foundation that gave so many business owners the freedom to innovate or move online? A solid business plan.
Last year, businesses owners faced countless challenges. No one saw the pandemic coming, and the speed at which normal life shut down was impossible to plan for. This time last year, I was preparing for my own personal life changing experience: becoming a mother. Which, of course, meant taking maternity leave last fall. And guess what? My business had its best year ever!
Having a solid business plan can safeguard your business from unseen challenges, a leave of absence, and just the everyday challenge of juggling of work, life relationships and family. The bottom line is, your business plan will make your life as an entrepreneur much easier.
First of all, you need a business plan to map out the products or services you plan to sell. Now, this may seem like a no-brainer, but it makes sense to plan as much as possible ahead of time because you’ll want to be strategic. Learn how to create a flexible business plan here.
Additionally, you’ll want to plan a sales calendar. Now, this isn’t necessarily set in stone, and you can move things around. However, your sales calendar will guide you and give you a base to work from as you manage your time and resources.
Once you’ve got your sales calendar set, it opens the door for you to put together a solid content calendar. This will allow you to know exactly what content needs to be created for the products or services you plan to market and sell. Not only is it easier to set goals and deadlines with one, but it will allow you to plan ahead, as well.
Here’s my advice on how to approach your business plan one step at a time:
- Get good at just one thing. This is one of the biggest secrets that successful entrepreneurs know. Don’t try to conquer the world. Solidify your sales strategy and learn to master just one thing at a time. It will help you understand what works for your business and take the pressure off from feeling like you have to constantly hustle or reinvent the wheel over and over. Don’t rush the process. Eventually, it’ll be time to master something else, but not before your one thing is running like a well-oiled machine.
- Choose your profit pathway. Are you selling higher-ticket/lower volume, or low-ticket/higher volume products? There’s not just one way to scale. But you need to figure out what works for you. By identifying your pathway, you see the correct problem you have to solve in your business in order to move forward. It will help you develop the right lead magnet and better understand your potential customers.
- Set up monthly recurring revenue and stack your payments. Establishing recurring sources of revenue will help support your business through the leaner months. A word of caution, this isn’t something you will be able to apply right away, you’ll have to work up to it. Developing products or plans that have payments spaced out over time means you’ll have better income security. As your success grows, you’ll also want to slowly raise your price point and work on other offers as your passive income rolls in.
- Lay out your launch schedule. This is where being an entrepreneur gets really fun. Look down the pipeline to clearly plan out what will launch when, and set goals and deadlines. If you can visualize your short-and long-term goals and write them down, this planning will help prevent burnout, spread income out throughout the calendar year and give you time to strategize and pivot if you hit a roadblock. Best of all, this is when you get to be creative. What do you want to accomplish in your business? You can structure your business in a way that provides you with the room to double down and explore new opportunities.
Creating your business plan is going to take a great amount of legwork. You’ll need to research the market and your competition, you might need to do some math, and it will take time to create your plan. In the end, creating this plan from the start is worth it, as your business plan will make your life as an entrepreneur infinitely easier. With a plan in place, you’ll be able to more easily roll with the ups and downs of life as a business owner. Additionally, your business plan will be a document that might come in handy should you need loans or investors in the future.