HOW TO MAKE YOUR DREAM BUSINESS A REALITY WITH A KILLER BUSINESS PLAN
The era of entrepreneurship is upon us, and I for one can feel today, more than ever, your dream career, owned business or pipe dream venture is not only a possibility, but almost a given. Whether it’s our very own blogosphere breeding a whole range of successful bloggers, content producers, consultants and creative directors, or the tech revolution inspiring and enabling people to make their dream business a reality … whatever the reason, the opportunity is there and truly yours for the taking.
But the key to any successful business, blog or not, is having a business plan, clear objectives and goals, a defined product and market, a carefully crafted strategy, and measurement in place to support and help guide your journey forward. It is important to consider all aspects involved in running a business prior to taking the leap of faith.
Yes, it’s true that many of us bloggers fell into being business owners as a result of a passion for writing, photography and fashion, but no one is having success as a result of buying their head in the sand, even the most inexperienced business owners, are creating a plan, writing a strategy and finding their feet in this new world.
It’s an area and a field that many people who want to turn their passion into their career have limited experience in, unless you studied business at university it’s unlikely you know the first thing about starting a business, let alone writing a strategy and a business plan. But that shouldn’t and will not stop you from creating your dream job, setting up your business and achieving great success.
And that’s why I wanted to write today’s post.
When I started my careers and blogging tips editorials back in 2014, they were a huge success and really inspired me to keep writing more and sharing more of my tips and advice with you, based on my experience as a blogger, but most critically my experience as a communications consultant. As the blogosphere grew and the sheer volume of clickbate tips posts rocketed (drives me mad), I slowed off this area of content.
But truth be told it’s something i’m wildly passionate about, and in many ways in this blogosphere, my experience and career gives me quite a big USP in this space (even though it’s taken me 3 years to admit it) …
So without further ado, I reignite the tips series on mediamarmalade.com & if you missed out on three years worth of blogging and careers tips then I highly recommend you pop over here once you’re finished with this one & i’ve also linked some other posts on this topic at the bottom for further reading too.
HOW TO CREATE A KILLER BUSINESS PLAN
Like I said, no matter if you’re a blogger wanting to take your blog full time, an artist or designer wanting to start your own business, or a consultant looking to go freelance … these tips are relevant for you! A personalised business plan is the first step to any business and it’s journey to success, and more than that, if you need to take your business to market, whether that’s consumers, partners or even banks, then you need to have a succinct story and plan in place to truly sell your offering. But fear not, it’s not quite as daunting as you may think …
DEFINE YOUR BUSINESS
Okay first things first, you want to turn your blog into your full time career, you want to open that cake shop in your village, you want to go freelance, fantastic. But simply knowing that isn’t enough, you need to have a plan. And the first step to making your business dreams a reality is defining what your business actually is. What it stands for, what it’s values are, what it offers, and what it strives to achieve.
What’s Your Mission? Think of this as the super punchy, tight, elevator pitch statement that sums up your ambitions in one succinct and powerful way.
What’s Your Offering? Is it a product or a service, what value does it offer, who’s it aimed at, what will it deliver? Having a clear offering is critical in having a good business and successful business plan.
What’s Your Business Goal? If you had to set yourself one overarching goal for your business venture, what would it be? Perhaps you have a five year goal and a one year goal? Whatever it is, capture it. This is going to define everything you do from here on in …
Whether you’ve been working on your business for years and are only just making it a formal enterprise or full time career now (like many bloggers) or whether you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to have a clear answer to those three questions.
KNOW YOUR PRODUCT, YOUR CONSUMER & YOUR MARKET
Let’s dig into your offering a little further …
When defining your business you want to be able to summarise what it is you’re offering without too much elaboration (imagine a dragons den style pitch). What is the thing that people are going to buy? Or if it’s not a product to buy, what’s the ‘thing’ thats going to allow it to live commercially? Why are they going to buy it? What is it that makes your product something your audience will want? And for that matter, who is your audience, who are you creating a product or a service for? Why are they going to want to invest in your business over others (are there even other options out there?), what’s your USP, what’s your value offering, what makes your business special, better or a competitive option to consider?
You need to ask yourself these questions:
- What is my product
- Who is going to buy it?
- Who are these people, what are they like and what do they want?
- Why do they need or want my product?
- What other products are available to them? How does my product differ or offer something better?
- What are my competitors doing to speak to my consumer? What can I learn?
Once you know the market, your competitor set, your consumer and your opportunity you can then start to create your strategy and objectives for how you’re going to deliver on your business goals.
SET CLEAR OBJECTIVES & GOALS
Okay, so you’ve defined your business, you know your market, you understand your audience and you’ve got a stellar product they’re going to love. You also know what it is you want to achieve as you’ve set yourself a clear goal. Now it’s time to break it down a little further, because i bet that goal sounds pretty hefty on it’s own?
Your objectives should build from your mission, deliver against your business mission and goal, take into account your understanding of the market, and ultimately give you very clear and actionable areas of focus. They should be as SMART as possible (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely) and should help you and not scare you.
Or in other words your objectives must provide manageable targets for you to deliver against, that over time will help you deliver your business mission. Your strategy will then help you define and plan how you’re going to achieve them …
CREATE YOUR STRATEGY (OR STRATEGIES)
Let’s be clear up front, a strategy means:
“a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim”
Your strategy is a plan of action that will help you achieve your business goals. It takes into account all your market research (your product, your audience, your market and your opportunity) and allows you to build a viable plan of action to help you deliver against that overall goal.
Your strategy should build off of your objectives, and breakdown in detail the tasks you need to work on, all laddering back up to your big goal. Your strategy should tackle all your key business tasks head on, marketing & communications, product, distribution & sales, commercials, community. Whatever it is you’ve identified as your key objectives, your strategy is the plan that will enable you to get there. For example if building a community is going to be critical for your success, then you may have a specific strategy focused on your social communications and the role of your social channels.
You may craft an annual strategy, a five year strategy or a strategy per objective dependent on how big and task-some your objectives and goals are (like the above for example). Truthfully your strategy just needs to guide and enable you to deliver on your objectives, it’s your plan of action, so it should be developed in a way that’s going to be of benefit to you and most importantly, articulated into tasks and clear actions.
I personally have an overall goal for my business, which I’ve then broken down into three key objectives I need to deliver on to achieve that, which I review monthly, what I have then done is put a strategy and some actionable tactics in place that will enable me in time to deliver on my objectives.
MEASURE YOUR SUCCESS
Which leads me to the final piece of the puzzle. Measurement. How do you know when you’ve achieved success? How do you know what’s working or whats not? How will you learn, develop, and evolve? How will you keep your strategy fresh, relevant and productive?
Continually measuring your efforts, taking learning’s, optimising your strategy and plan is beyond critical. No business can stand still, least not when it’s in it’s first few years.
You need to put a framework in place that not only enables you to measure the success of your plan and tactics (the actions you are taking) and how they’re laddering up to your overall objectives and goals, you also need to keep abreast of the market, culture, your product performance and business growth, and review against these factors.
And in most instances, measurement needs to be put in place up front, for example if you’re a blogger, having google analytics is going to be key in measuring the success of your content, and importantly the success of your distribution strategy (what channels are performing well, what content is your audience loving most, what’s driving the most engagement socially, and what areas do you need to refocus?). The opportunity and scope for review is massive, so the key is to focus on the measures and results which deliver against your objectives. This will allow you to keep focused & optimise.
WANT TO TURN YOUR BLOG INTO A BUSINESS? READ MORE:
How to turn your business ideas into a reality | Why You Don’t Need To Quit Your Career To Have A Successful Blog Business | How to think More Strategically About Your Blog & Business Plan | How To Take Your Blog Full Time | How To Turn Your Passions Into Your Career | How to Design Your Website & Create A Consistent Brand | How to Define Your Audience & Grow Your Business | How to earn money from your blog & content | 5 ways to track the success of your blog | The Realities of Having A Career & A Side Hustle
You should continue to review and optimise your business plan as time goes on and you can start to see how your strategy and plan is delivering, thinking strategically about business is super important and being open to evolving, trying new things and learning will be critical for your success. Focus on your own journey and your own goals, avoid the comparison trap and if you need any more advice (especially if you’re a blogger looking to take your blog to the next level, then you can read all my best blog tips editorial here). Whatever your dream career, business idea or passion, it is possible to turn it into your career … they key is starting!!