As we head deeper down our journeys of becoming our own CEO, we occasionally encounter seasons where we just feel… off. Decisions feel misaligned. Work feels like task-mastering. And we lose sight of our vision.
We forget that we were the ones that paved this road, and we have the power and responsibility to look up, check in, and either course-correct or power on.
This is why I recommend revisiting your business plan on a yearly, if not quarterly, basis. Your business plan is your guide, your Google Maps, (remember MapQuest, anyone?). Revisiting your business plan on a regular basis is your responsibility if you want to maintain clarity, focus, and purpose.
Why a Business Plan?
You might be thinking, “Ugh, a business plan? I got out of that corporate nonsense so I didn’t have to do stuffy work like this! I’m a creative! DON’T PUT ME IN YOUR BOX!”
We are here to do things differently. With heart and passion, we make our own rules. We take traditional business planning and apply our mindset and heart to it.
And trust me, I see you and hear you. We set out on this journey to do business differently, to forge our own paths, and to bust out of the 9-5, pantsuit-wearing, high-heel-clacking monotony. But, big business works and has worked for so long because they have proven ways of doing things.
If you’ve been on this journey with us up to this point (if not, you can catch up here), you know we are here to do things differently.
With heart and passion, we make our own rules. We take traditional business planning and apply our mindset and heart to it.
Whether you’ve written a business plan or not, this is going to get you on track for a successful business by getting everything down on paper in one place.
Why? For moments when you need to get back to center, when you need clarity and focus. When you bring on a team and you need documentation to teach them about the business. That’s the why behind why business plans work.
To make this process a little more smooth for you, we’ve created some worksheets to help you outline this process as you work through these questions. Sign up below and we’ll email it to you!
Making a Business Plan
Business Overview : Who you are, what you offer, who you serve
This is a general overview of your business and your business model. You can talk about you, your company, your general offerings and expertise, and the type(s) of clients you serve.
Mission Statement : What you’re here to do and why, what promise and impact you make in the world
You might think that mission statements are cheesy, but we recently went through this exercise as a leadership team and it’s POWERFUL. This is a chance for you to check in with your heart and soul.
WHY did you start this business? WHAT is your purpose here? WHO are you impacting with this work? HOW are you going to continue to show up and serve?
Core Values : The values your company holds are what steer the ship, what you fall back on, and for what you can be counted on
Core values can be another “woo-woo” exercise, but it’s a chance to check in to your heart and the heart of your business.
What are the things that you hold dear? What are the promises that you make to your clients? These are the hills you are willing to die on. These can be things like Integrity, Fun, Authenticity, Courage, Generosity, Luxury, Presence, Candor.
Clients or Customers : Who do you work with?
You’ve heard terms like “ideal client” and “client avatar” before, but really, when it gets down to it, who are your dreamiest clients?
The best way I’ve found to write about them is to think back to two or three of your best working relationships. Ask yourself these questions:
Who were they as people?
What did they do for a living?
What services did they buy from you?
What was so ideal about the relationship?
Did they pay on time, have great feedback, were they fun to be around?
What was the thing that made them dreamy?
Business Organization + Team Members : Who is on your team, who do you turn to, what is your organizational structure?
This is important for those of us with a team as well as solopreneurs. You still need to know the roles in your business you are filling and where gaps exist.
You can start by making a list of everyone working for you, every role being filled, and even the software you use that works for you.
There are a couple of ways you can organize these lists into visual maps:
A hierarchy showing the way that these roles and team members relate to each other. The “chain of command,” if you will. But really, it just shows who each person works with and reports to. This is how we have our business organization set up.
Another way is to name the functions of your business: leadership, sales, content, finances, customer service, etc. From there you can list out which team members, roles, or software support those business functions. This is a way to show who is supporting each main function of your business and perhaps find the gaps.
Main Offerings : What are your offerings? Who are they for? What do they include? How much are they?
It's time to lay it all out there. Let's get down every single offering that we offer to our clients. This can be the ones that are on your website or even the secret ones that you only offer your dreamiest clients.
Not only do I want you to list out what you offer but detail what's included. How long is the engagement? How much does it cost? What are the payment terms that you offer for each package?
A fun exercise while you are listing these out is to check in with your gut and probably your profit and loss statements to see which of these offerings you don't want to offer anymore or if you need to change anything about them.
There might be something that you feel like clients want to see you or want to have from you but you don't love doing the task or it's not profitable for you to complete the project the way that you have it laid out. It will be a great exercise for you to figure out if what you're offering is in yours or your client’s best interest.
Your Signature Process : What set processes do you take your clients through?
If these have been living in your head for this long, this is the perfect time to document them. You might feel like you don't have a signature process. You might think everything is different for each client.
If that's actually true, sister, it's time for you to create a signature process. This is what it's going to set you apart and your industry and bring true and perceived value check your packages.
You also have a way that you onboard clients, a way that you meet with them and walk them through a process, PDFs or documents that you share with them, proven processes, and methods that work.
This is a place where you can and should set out these signature processes. For a while, I thought that we didn't have signature processes because we have so many packages. But the way that we are onboarding clients, get their project set up, strategize with them — all of that is a signature process we have mapped out.
Marketing Plan : How do you find clients? How and where are you sharing what you do?
We aren't going to get crazy here, but what I want to know is where do you find your clients? How do they find you? What is your strategy and plan for finding those clients? What are the platforms where you share about your work?
If you don't know where your clients are coming from, you should make that a part of your onboarding process. Ask them where they found you and how they heard about you.
Note: If their responses are primarily referrals, you need to set up a marketing plan for when those referrals dry up!
Finances : How are you making money? Where does the money come from? How much of it do you need to keep the ship afloat? And how much do you need to turn your ship into a yacht?
I know, nobody wants to talk about finances, but we all want to make money. So this is where we need to get real about what's working and what's not in our business.
How are you making money and where is it coming from? How much money do you need to be bringing home? How much money do you need to keep the business afloat? How much money do you need to be setting aside to pay your taxes? What is your dream amount and how many packages or clients do you need to work with to reach that goal?
Support System : Who do you turn to when you need support? When you have specific problems?
Running a business isn’t for the faint of heart. You know that! We can’t and shouldn’t do it alone. We are better together than we are apart, so you need to find your support system.
I couldn't do it without the support of my husband and family. My mastermind of like-minded business owners on a similar journey. My biz bestie that I connect with monthly (at least) to talk through things that are coming up, ways we can encourage each other, ways we can support each other. My leadership team who are just a Vox away.
It’s important to know who you can call and it’s important to know that you are not alone — list them here!
Goals : Where are you headed? What are your future plans?
And now that we have all of that practical stuff down. It's time to get a little dreamy. I don't want you to be thinking about 5 or 10 years down the road, although we could start there. I want you to think about the next 6 to 12 months up to the next 18 months at most.
What do you want to see happen in your business? What are the key indicators of growth and success for you? This is going to be different for everyone. For some it's going to be money in the bank, for some it's going to be a lot of followers on Instagram, and for others it's going to be the impact they're making with their clients.
Okay, so you’ve made it through this blog and are (hopefully!) fired up and inspired to get your business plan documented. Remember to sign up for your worksheets at the form below. Now hop to it, sister! And when you’ve completed it, I’d love to see it - simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the headline “I rocked my business plan!” and I’ll send you some love and support (and possibly a little She Can Coterie goodie)!