Simple Business Plan Outlines for Solopreneurs and Small Businesses
Every business needs a plan, even when you're a solopreneur. Here are two simple business plan outlines. One is only 1-page!
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Does the thought of writing a business plan trigger your anxiety?
Do you feel like business plans are only for "big businesses?"
Trust me, I totally understand. And creating a small business plan was my semester assignment for Business 101. I should know better right?
But psychologically, it's difficult to sit down and create a plan.
Maybe you don't know where to start or what to include. Maybe it just makes it feel too real and you don't think you're ready for that (hello, me!)
Either way, like many small business owners, you probably feel overwhelmed just by the idea of creating a business plan. Fortunately, as solopreneurs or small team businesses, it doesn’t have to be as hard as our brains are telling us.
(Or as complicated as Business 101 made it seem, in my case.)
I've made 2020 my year to get more intentional with my business and reviewing my business plan has been the first step. Reviewing your plan each year is a must since it should grow as your business grows.
Before, I had a less formal plan, so this year I wanted something a bit more structured. I wanted to stop struggling with deadlines and have an idea of what I wanted to do for every month so I could get way ahead of those deadlines.
But before I tell you that, let me show you how you can ease into business planning by using just one page.
How to Create a One Page Business Plan
Unless you're looking for major financial funding from a bank or other loan institutions, a simple business plan that includes answers to the following questions will be perfect for your small business purposes.
- Where am I now with my business?
- Where do I want to be with my business?
If you see your deadlines in front of you as you work your business, you’ll be more likely to meet them. Break this answer down into a timeline to make it easier, using 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, or whatever times work for your particular business.
And then bam! Your simple, one-page business plan is done. You're that much more organized than you were before you started.
But you don't have to stop there. Maybe you saw how easy that was and now you want to get a bit more detailed with your plan. Keep reading to discover how you can expand your business plan into something a bit more in-depth without feeling overwhelmed.
Create a Simple but Detailed Business Plan
You can still make your business planning easy by devoting no more than one page to each of the following sections.
Page 1 - Overview
Include your vision (possibilities) for your business, the purpose (why you started your business) of creating the business, and the mission (what you plan to achieve) of the business.
Page 2 - Business Information
Here is where you include information about yourself including name, business name and entity, address, and phone number. As online entrepreneurs, while you may not have a physical address, you can include your website address, email, or even the PO Box for your email list.
You’ll also want to summarize your business objectives on this page. List your goals and how you plan to reach them. This includes what you’ll do to create a profit and what tools and resources you plan to use to do so.
Page 3 - Target Market & Customers
Int his section of your business plan, you want to focus on your target market. You want to clearly define who they are and why they need you.
Answer the following questions in this section of your plan:
- Your target market - Who are they? Where are they? How many?
- What do you need to know about them? Why do they need your service?
- Is the market for what they need growing?
Give specifics about growth and spending habits. Do as much research on your market as you can and put it in this section, including any barriers or hard to overcome issues.
Page 4 - Competition
Who are your competitors? What makes you different and the same as those competitors?
How are you competing with them? With price, quality, etc? How will your market feel about you compared to your competitors?
Next, consider your USP—Unique Selling Point. What makes your business different from your competitors? How does your personal experience make your product or service unique?
Page 5 - Finances
Most businesses will apply for a business loan to cover startup costs, but as online entrepreneurs, our startup costs are low enough that we can pay for them without a loan. If you do want to go for a loan, that's up to you, but I'll be writing this section for the many of us who will be starting our business on our own.
Consider what will cost to run your website, your email list, your shopping cart, and any other necessities and include them in your business plan. This will help you understand how much you need to make or invest on a monthly or yearly basis.
You might also want to create budgets for certain areas of your business. So hosting costs could be one budgeting area, while advertising, outsourcing, and marketing could be some others. Budgets are great because they force you to spend the money you have set aside for each area on those specific things.
Even if you can only afford $10 or $20 on extras outside of hosting costs, that's a lot better than nothing. You can always save that money for a larger purchase as well.
Page 6 - Marketing
This is a bit like your competition section because you’ll want to discuss how you'll market your business products or services.
- What social media will you use? Will you manage it yourself or hire someone else? How will you handle scheduling?
- How will you set up your email list? What discounts or freebies will you offer to entice people to sign up for that list?
- What holidays are most relevant to your business and how will you market your product in conjunction with those holidays?
- Will you use affiliate partners? How much will you split with them and which products will you offer to affiliate?
All of this should in the marketing section of your business plan. This will likely be a meaty section since marketing is the most important thing you can do for your business, so it's okay if you can't fit it all on one page!
Recap: Simple Business Plan Outlines for Solopreneurs
- Try the 1-page plan: Answer where you are now, where you want to be, and set the necessary goals to get there. This is an excellent way to start if the idea of a business plan scares you.
- Create an in-depth plan: Dedicate pages to each part of your business plan. Include
- Your business overview (what it is and what you hope to achieve),
- Important information about your business,
- Your target market (demographics as well as what they need),
- Who your competition is and how you differ from them,
- How you plan to finance your business expenses, and
- How you'll market your business
No matter which method you use to create your business plan, be sure you're answering each question to make it efficient for its purpose. Whether it’s for you or someone else, the ultimate goal of a business plan is to keep you on track and focused and working toward growth.
As your business grows don’t forget to update your plan to grow with it as well! Revisit your plan once or twice a year.