As a freelancer, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of running your business. Finding clients, completing projects, and doing admin are time consuming. They can feel much more pressing than sitting down and writing a comprehensive business plan.
But carrying on without one would be a mistake. It’s not enough to have a rough idea in your head of what your business is, your goals and way of achieving them. By putting your business plan to paper (digital or otherwise!) you’re laying the foundation for your success. You create a blueprint that will help you build up your business.
So how do you go about creating a business plan as a freelance creative?
Let’s look at what exactly goes into creating a business plan for freelance creatives.
Why Freelance Creatives Need Business Plans
A business plan is a document that outlines a business’s plans for the future. It covers marketing tactics, financials, differentiators, competitors and much more.
You might be thinking, I’m just one person running a small freelance gig, why do I need one? A business of any size stands to benefit from having one. It will help them understand their market, their offering and their opportunities. Let’s dig a little deeper into that.
A business plan can help you:
- Get strategic. Outlining your strategy will help you structure your business. It will help decide what sets you apart from others in your market, how much you’ll charge and what you can do to bring in customers.
- Get investment or loans. Often business plans are given to potential investors so that they get a clear picture of who and what they might invest in. If you ever want business financing, then having this document ready now will save you time and effort.
- Grow! A business plan allows you to plan for the future and set targets. Whether you want to bring in more revenue or expand your team, a plan can help you achieve this growth 30% faster.
Creating a Business Plan in 10 Easy Steps
Step 1 – Research
Before even sitting down to write up your plan, you need to get to grips with what you’ll include in it. Especially when it comes to data. Look for data pertaining to your industry, your business (especially if you’ve already been operating), your financial situation, and anything else you think might be relevant.
Doing this before you begin ensures a smoother process when writing. It can be helpful to come up with an outline. In it you populate each section of the business plan with data and points you want included.
Step 2: Summarise Your Business
A business summary should identify your purpose and give a broad overview of who you are, why you’re doing it, and the current state of the business. How in depth you go on your company overview is up to you and your business plan’s purpose.
Step 3: Flesh Out Your Product or Service
In this section, you want to hone in on what your business is providing and highlight how great your product or service is. Not everyone will be familiar with industry specific terms or acronyms so keep the language simple and straightforward.
You can also talk about how your offering has evolved. What benefits it offers, and any challenges it might face in the future.
Step 4: Identify Your Market and Competitors
You need to know where you sit within your market and who else is operating in your space. Doing so means you’re well informed of the challenges and opportunities in your sector.
Don’t be afraid to get visual here! Make a table to segment the market. Use competitor logos to show who you’re up against and even create an ‘identity’ for your target customer.
Step 5: Come Up With a Marketing and Sales Strategy
There’s really no point in having a freelance business if you don’t have any customers or clients. That’s why building out your marketing and sales strategy is so important. A marketing and sales strategy shows not only how you plan to reach your ideal clients but how you’ll convince them to buy from you.
There are a number of things you need to account for in a marketing strategy. From the conversion rate optimization tool you could be using to how you will leverage social media. Similarly, your sales strategy should breakdown the sales cycle and work out your pricing model.
Step 6: Set Your Goals
Where will your business be three months from now? Six months? Five years? Those decisions will impact the decisions you make in the meantime. Setting goals on any timeframe shows your ambitions and prioritisation of your business.
The goals you choose are up to you. They can be related to expansion, revenue, service development, branding and much more. Having them written down will help hold you hold yourself accountable. And when it’s time to make decisions you can ask yourself, how will this help me achieve my goals?
Step 7: Map Out Your Operations and Personnel
From an admin perspective, you need to know where your business is operating from, what systems you’re using and who makes up the business.
Even if your business is made up of just you. It’s important to detail your role in the business along with your strengths and weaknesses. It will help you identify skills gaps should you ever look to hire someone in. It can help you decide what tools you need to operate your business. For instance, if you aren’t great at invoicing or don’t enjoy managing it, you may want to look for an online tool that does it for you.
Step 8: Detail Your Financial Plan
First, start by detailing any historical financial data your business has. Past sales, expenditure and gross profit will get you started. From there you can create a financial forecast for what the next few years will look like in terms of revenue and expenses. Don’t worry about planning too far into your financial future as this part of the business plan should be updated every three years minimum.
Make sure your financial plan is backed up by research and data (see step 1!).
Step 9: Write Your Executive Summary
This is the final writing step for your business plan but is arguably the most important. If you do decide to look for loans or investments then this section will be the first thing a bank or investor reads as it goes in the beginning. Think of it like a first impression. You want to get it right. It should be a summary of every section that follows. That’s why it’s helpful to write it last as now you know exactly what it is you’re summarising.
Step 10: Save and Revisit Your Business Plan
Don’t forget to save it somewhere safe. A document management system can come in use here. And just because you’ve finished doesn’t mean you shouldn’t open it up and revisit it once in a while. In fact, it’s a good idea to update your business plan as the market and your business changes. A few years you can look at the different iterations of your plan and see how far your freelance gig has come.
Now you have a comprehensive business plan in your arsenal, ready to deploy and revisit as needed. It’s time you get back to doing what you love – running your freelance business.