Only if it’s chocolate cake. In fact, let me rephrase, “Creating Your Freelance Business Plan is a Piece of Chocolate Cake”
Chocolate cake fixes everything after all…
No matter how big or small, your business will need some sort of a plan.
In this post, I will have a special chat with you on the importance, the what’s, the how’s and the aha’s of creating your freelance business plan. Nothing too intimidating, however, it is important to know as much as possible to get you started.
- Business Plan Definition
- Why Have a Freelance Business Plan
- Purpose and Goals of Your Freelance Business
- About You and Your Freelance Business
- What Are Your Services or Products
- Get to Know Your Clients
- Who is Your Major Competition
- Marketing Your Services
- Strengths vs Weakness
- Automate Your Business Processes
- Location of the Business
- Legal Obligations of a Business
- Scaling Your Freelance Business
- Always being prepared to Pivot in Business
Business Plan Definition
- It isn’t rocket science, apparently…
However, a proper definition from a reputable website won’t hurt. According to Wikipedia, it is a
How did everyone survive before Wikipedia?” is a valid question but not for today.
In terms of writing a simple business plan for a small business. I think it’s fine to leave out and simplify sections that really only apply to the bigger corporations and big hats.
According to The Virtual Click *wink wink*,😉. Your freelance business plan can simply be.
“A document that consists of your unique dreams, specialised services, and ever-growing goals that you can refer to as a guide. And when you achieve it all, you can (mentally) high-five 🖐🏽 yourself to celebrate”
It’s noteworthy to mention that not everyone will need a business plan. But if you want to grow your (small) business and take it to the next level then yeah, you may have to (re)consider creating one.
Why Have a Freelance Business Plan
- Because all the cool kids in business got one
Hardly anything will work the way you see it without some type of organizing and planning.
A painful truth for the ones who rely solely on their intuition for decision making.
Simply brain dumping thoughts and ideas in your notebook is a fantastic start and certainly is part of the process. However, leaving those priceless ideas scattered, with loose ends and no direction, sadly will not get you further than your next trip to the kitchen for a cup of coffee.
You must understand that a freelance business is actually a real business. If you already knew this, I apologize for wasting 5 seconds of your reading time.
Do not ignore the planning stage, it is tempting to simply start freelancing straight away, but don’t be in such a hurry, believe me, you need a planned direction.
Why? Because you don’t want to end up wasting time, energy and money because you couldn’t be bothered to lay down the foundations of your business.
Your business plan should cover your strategies in regards to your services and marketing,
- How will you organise your business?
- What kind of legal process will you address?
- What will your accounting approach be?
There are many business plan templates available on the internet that you can follow. No one is ever obliged to reinvent the wheel. It’s all out there. But I have plucked out the most important parts that you as a freelancer can make use of.
I have laid out the following actions to make the procedure a tad easier for you and have also provided what I believe are the easiest steps to follow. You may thank me later.
Purpose and Goals of Your Freelance Business
- A thin division between the two
The entire reason why you are doing what you’re doing or trying to do is in your purpose or mission.
Getting there and achieving it is your goal. See? A thin division between the two.
Every business strategy requires a purpose and also a set of goals.
When you understand the reasons behind why you are developing your business you will have a stronger desire to complete the goals you have planned.
These goals you have could be business-related or personal. Let’s see, you may wish…
- To retire before a certain age? (age is but a number, but still)
- To have the dream holiday of a lifetime (Fiji anyone?)
- To live an independent lifestyle
- To develop an agency or consultancy
What’s your goal? Come on dig deep! Is it one of the above? Or, fill in the blank_____________
Whatever your dream goals might be they will certainly play a big role in your freelance business plan.
About You and Your Freelance Business
- You, yourself and more of you
Basically, this is where you need to show who you are with confidence in the form of words.
It’s all about your determination and what you can possibly offer. Your business plan will need to discuss how you are qualified and show you have the experience to be making such an offering to the public. Dig deep and ask yourself:-
- Why is it you want to run your own freelance business?
- What is your previous work experience?
- What are your qualifications and education?
- What training have you done?
- Any future training courses you want to complete?
- What are your hobbies and interests?
We often take the education we received when we were younger for granted. The truth is, we have been learning our entire school life how to speak about ourselves through different activities and subjects. If you dig deep enough you will find enough reason and the motivation behind “Why this business?”, “What does it mean to you?”, “Is this what you’ve always wanted?”.
Let me take you on a stroll down Memory Lane…
Mr O B Jones Esquire, (my Dad) sent me for piano lessons and typing classes when I was still in school. Hated the piano lessons, (I can only play chopsticks) but, I loved the typing classes and was ahead of the game before I even went to Secretary College. I knew from then that I wanted to do something related to business.
30 odd years have passed, and I have thrown out the old typewriter along with the Tippex. The floppy discs and CD Rom’s have been replaced by iCloud and a Macbook air.
My dreams, like technology, have evolved over the years. I am happy to be living the freelance lifestyle as a Web Developer and SEO Specialist.
What Are Your Services or Products
- What have you got in store?
You will certainly need to determine exactly what your services will be, who your customers or clients will be and also where you will find them.
- What are you going to sell? A product, a service or both?
- What are your abilities as well as passions?
- How can you monetize them right into a business?
Once you have figured it all out, you need to work out all the fundamentals such as hours of work for example.
Now you are a freelancer, you are fundamentally changing how you function and work,
- What will be the hours of your business?
- How much will you work?
You now get to choose how much you work, and when you do it.
I wrote an entire blog post on the perks of being a freelancer. Make sure to check it out if you haven’t already. Cheers.
Get to Know Your Clients
- Without clients you have no business being in business
Study and know thy market.
Honestly, in this age and time, it is easier to do so from the comforts of your own home with an internet connection and your computer or even on a smartphone.
Market research is important for the success of any type of business, big or tiny. The more you know about your prospective market, the higher your possibilities of getting the consumers you desire, which implies earning a profit.
In your business plan, it should include the clients you desire, as well as areas where you are most likely to discover these potential clients.
- Who is your Ideal Client
- What is their age group
- Male or Female or both
- You get the picture 😊
Who is Your Major Competition
- Healthy competition
Creating a healthy competition is exciting and motivational for your business. Don’t panic, please.
Look into your competitors to get an indication of what currently exists as well as just how you can do things better. After you take a look at the competition, see how your services will fit into that market.
- Just how will your service contrast to rivals?
- What do you need to use that these other competitors do not?
Try stepping into the shoes of your clients and consider
- Why they would want to utilize your freelancing services over someone with a lower rate? or
- Why your business, when your competition is offering the same exact product or service.? Think and write it down.
Marketing Your Services
- To make some noise and be heard.
Here you will concentrate your strategy on gaining clients, and getting a profit.
Look at possible marketing channels, costs and the price you will charge for your services, advertising, and sales promotions.
There are different ways to market your services and products. It’s safe to say that a large deal of it would be digital marketing.
This doesn’t end with a nice page for your business on a social media platform such as Facebook. There’s more to digital marketing.
Although Facebook is a very successful platform for advertising and marketing amongst business owners, there are other platforms you should consider such as Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.
Twitter is great for quick updates and linking your brand to other bigger brands out there.
Think of creating a GIF image of yourself in action with a funny or catchy line. Neat, huh?
Blogging is another way I would like to suggest to my fellow freelancers for promoting their startup.
Writing is therapeutic. If it helps you to talk about your freelance journey, all the process and the progress of your startup, you should elevate and inspire your readers with you.
Positive psychology is the new black in marketing!
Strengths vs Weakness
- My strength and weakness are the same: Chocolate cake.
Identify the areas in your freelance business where you can develop your strengths, and improve your weak points.
Bear in mind, this can be a challenging task for some because you might need to own up to a few shortcomings you’re not prepared to acknowledge!
If you are weak in areas of your business, then train yourself in those areas so you can always make your weak points into your strengths. Don’t worry If you are unable to perform a task yourself, this is where you will make alternative plans to overcome it, by either outsourcing the work or becoming an expert at it yourself.
Avoid thinking of what you don’t have. Work on what you have and embrace it.
Automate Your Business Processes
- 3, 2, 1…action!
To develop and grow your business and keep track of everything you need to have systems and processes in place.
Imagine your business process to be a film and of course, you’re the protagonist. Create tiny scenarios in your head answering the questions I’ve listed for you. I have a client who said that she actually does that. If it works for her then why not? More popcorn, please! 🍿
- How will customers get their goods and you get paid?
- Will you take on a VA to assist you?
- How, when or who will send out your weekly newsletter?
If you are doing all of this yourself it can get really difficult so it’s good to set up and automate a step-by-step system from the very beginning when the client makes an inquiry all the way to the time they leave you a testimonial or review of your services. This is how companies become successful.
Each time you develop a new process make sure you document it. You could also try recording a series of videos of how-tos. It will save you so much time especially if you take somebody on. Now that you’re sorted, you will only need to simply hand over your procedures.
Location of the Business
- “Send me location” – Khabib
Is your new business going to be on the web? Or will you have an office that clients can come to?
Look at what will be suitable for your personal circumstances and what makes good sense for the ultimate success of your business.
You might like the idea of working in your pyjamas every day (all day), but if your place needs to be seen by the public each day, a home office might not be your best option.
- How will you organise your home office?
- Will a home office be suitable for your needs?
- Where will you work from?
So what’s it going to be?
- Home office
- Back Garden ( My accountant has a beautiful office building in his back garden)
- Shared office space
- Shared art room
- Kitchen counter
Or, as one of my clients says when her children do school work she just joins them at the same table and they all do work. It’s “everyone working” time!
Legal Obligations of a Business
- We don’t want no trouble
You will likewise need to examine any legal obligations that you will certainly have; this includes tax obligations and business registration. Honestly, it is boring, however necessary.
Good for you that this is all explained and listed on your government websites. It’s a lot of reading up but absolutely worth your time.
But before, you go down that rabbit hole, figure out your financial situation. You don’t want to crash and enter a financial crisis before you actually start.
- Show me the moolah!
You will need to ask yourself, exactly
- What will be your cost and pricing strategy?
- What will be your income strategy?
- How much will you essentially make as a freelancer?
- How much will you need to start your freelance business?
- How much do you presently make?
If you are most likely to be earning less as a freelancer, can you factor that into your budget and remain living the lifestyle you want? Interesting question.
I urge you to keep on top of your finances and bookkeeping. It is important that you know just how much money is coming in and also out of your business.
Here’s a fun fact! Did you know you can claim for your coffee breaks? Yep, that’s right. You know I love coffee, right?
Yes, you are permitted to claim back all the coffee you have drank during any overnight stays while you were still on business or on a journey outside your normal freelancing hours; just like when you went to that meeting last week right? Wink wink? 😉 so don’t forget to claim your expenses, it all adds up.
If you don’t keep proper accounts, you will never know if you are making a profit, or if you are required to make changes. Tracking your numbers is one of the single crucial things you can do for your business.
Decide on whether you will do it yourself, or outsource it to a professional; if you look after it yourself, pick what software you will utilize or if you are old school like me use a spreadsheet.
Scaling Your Freelance Business
You also need to include your plans for scaling your business:
- What abilities and also skills will your new business demand of you to grow?
- exactly how are you going to get help when you require it?
- Will you use freelancers?
- Are you wishing to get a person to start today?
- Will these people have the skills as well as the abilities to grow your business to success?
Make sure you have a strategy in place.
Always being prepared to Pivot in Business
- Sir, yes sir!
Getting ready for any setbacks in your business will help you to stand up to any difficult times.
The unforgettable COVID-19 for example.
I definitely had to pivot my business and make changes but, honestly, it was good for me, meaning it gave me the push, the fear to keep going and not go bust.
Returning to my business plan, and strategies with my post-it’s on my bedroom wall, I put things in motion. Do you see how my business plan came in handy?
You need to update your plan as your business develops and as your goals change. Among the most significant reasons, a business folds are failing to adapt. Especially in the ever dynamic world of a freelancer.
- For better or worse, till invoices do us part
Make certain that you are truly dedicated. Your desire to work for yourself should be far greater than your desire to help somebody else.
I have often struggled with this, certainly at the very beginning when starting my business. Oh, don’t get me wrong I am definitely committed and a loyal person. But, I neglected my business (not on purpose) to focus on building others; It really gives me great joy to help others in achieving their visions.
It took me a few years before I finally built my own website. I spent so much time developing others, I did not take the time to develop mine. I know, I’m a web developer right, duh. 😏
Finally, I got it together and now always put my business first. Keep checking on your mindset and reviewing your business plan so you don’t get totally lost in others.
- Bottom line
Starting a freelance business is not as simple as opening your computer and having clients start pouring in.
I wish! Maybe not, where’s the excitement in that?
Freelance work can be hard work so creating a solid plan will give your business a strong foundation, a fighting chance and an easier road to your success.
- Your business plan is a working document that you can refer to frequently, especially in the early stages of your startup;
- Your freelance business plan will be the spine of your business. So, whether you are an organised or a messy planner, there needs to be something substantial to help you drive forward.
Mic drop. 🎤
I would certainly love to know if you found this article helpful! Please let me know by leaving your comments below and don’t forget to share.