I can’t believe it’s already DECEMBER! This year is going by so fast. Before we know it, it’s going to be 2015. Which, if you caught the episode of the Big Bang Theory this past month, or you’re a super classic movie nerd like me, then you’ll know that 2015 is the year that Marty McFly goes to in Back To The Future. We may not have any hover-board skateboards yet but technology has still come a long way.
For the first time in history, you can literally start a business in less than a day. Have a brilliant idea, set up a website, launch a few social platforms, release some epic content and start engaging. BAMM – you’re in business, and all in one day. That may not be as cool as a hover-skateboard but I think it’s still pretty amazing.
YOU ARE YOUR BUSINESS: THE BUSINESS PLAN
We started off this series discussing the importance of knowing who you are and what you stand for in your business, and then moved into discussing how to apply those unique qualities that make you you, into your business brand.
Today we take all that information one step further and crafting it into a business plan. And not just your traditional business plan, but a full out epic plan of action that will direct your business and keep you organized.
A business plan does more than just state your company’s vision and mission. It has the ability to help keep you accountable to the actions and goals you’ve set for yourself and your business. It establishes a set of guidelines and best practices that will aid in your self discipline.
When you are the boss, there’s no one above you to keep watch if you’re not following through on your tasks. You have to be the boss, the manager, and the employee all wrapped up into one. A business plan will help you conquer it all!
THE BUSINESS PLAN
It’s probably common sense at this point that you need a business plan. If you’ve been with me since the beginning, you should already have a nice head start on setting up the first few points of your business plan; your vision and mission. These are probably two of the most important elements of your business plan as they define the purpose and mission behind your business.
There are many different ways to write up a business plan. But something I want to emphasize is that no matter what you write down, nothing is ever permanent. Your business should grow and expand as you do and so your business plan should allow for that growth and expansion as well.
My favorite online ninja, Regina of byregina.com has come up with probably the most amazing DIY freelance business plan free worksheet. Print it out and mess around with how you might use it to help organize your business brilliance.
THE CONTENT PLAN
Content is so much more than just text, it’s images, links, downloads, text, print materials and pretty much every other elements that you use to run your business. Just like the business plan that dictates how you conduct your business, a content plan helps you define how you are going to use the content of your business. You may have loads of brilliant ideas and surprises up your sleeve but without a map or schedule to help you organize all those amazing ideas, it could come out a mess and your audience might miss your brilliance. Even creativity and inspiration takes discipline.
Check out Ciera’s post Tips for Coming Up with Fresh Blog Content, on her blog, Ciera Design. She provides an excellent free printable to help you organize your creative genius content ideas into a cohesive content plan so you can keep focused and avoid any creativity burnout. She specifically addresses text based content, but you can definitely use the same system when organizing any visual content plans as well, like how to showcase your photos or design images on your blog or website while still maintaining a clear narrative for your brand.
THE SITE PLAN
With your business plan and content plan in hand, take all that collected info, and map out your business’ website plan.
With your website serving as your business’ home base, providing all the essential information about your products and services, as well as helping establish your credibility in your industry, you want to make sure it’s as organized and easily navigable as possible.
Pardon my nerdiness once again, but the easiest way for me to describe this is by using Disneyland as a metaphor for your website, and your plan to get through the whole park in a day as your site plan:
+ You have your Home or landing page a.k.a Main Street and the entrance of Disneyland.
+ Then you have a Menu listing off all the potential directions that you can take through your site; About, Services, Testimonials, Contact… a.k.a all the different lands in Disneyland; Fantasyland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland… etc.
+ Depending on their purpose for being there, your readers might have different goals they aim to accomplish through your site. They may be looking for information about you, information about your products and services, your references and social proof, or just simply looking for that amazing post someone pinned on Pinterest the other day. At Disneyland, depending on who you are with when you’re there, (kids, teenagers, grandparents…) that will dictate the different routes you’ll take through the park. If you have young kids, you might not go to Indiana Jones in Adventureland, you might just jump right over to the tea cups in Fantasyland, or if you’re with teenagers and it’s a busy day, you’ll want to head over to Tomorrowland early and get in line for Space Mountain before the line gets too long…
Thank you for humoring me and my Disneyland site plan. More to the point as it relates to you and your website’s site plan, I have created this FREE worksheet for you to help organize your website’s navigation plan.
THE SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT PLAN
We can’t forget about out social media efforts! We might have an amazing business plan, content strategy to rule the web, and the coolest website EVER, but if we don’t have a plan for how to spread our creative genius with the people of the world wide web, then everything else is irrelevant.
One of my favorite ladypreneurs is Erika Madden of Olyvia Media. One thing she continuously stresses is the infusement of you in your social engagements. Don’t just do social. BE social.
People are looking to socialize with other humans, not products or services. Erika has an amazing series of short videos discussing the different ways in which you can engage online with your readers. Check out her suggestions on her site, and see how you might be able to best apply your personal brand to your social media engagements, and stay classy online.
Whether you notice or not, you brain automatically maps out a strategic plan about how to navigate any given situation. The same should be applied to your business, your content, your website and your social engagements. Think like your audience might; Why are they there? Where did they come from? How does that effect where they land? What could they be looking for? Then, plan out a series of actions to help direct their experience through your business. You teach people how to engage with your business by the way you engage your business.
SHARE YOUR GENIUS PLANNING RESOURCES
I absolutely love a good organizational worksheet, especially when it helps make running my business easier and clearer for my followers and I. If anyone else has any great resources, please share! I even have a special board on Pinterest dedicated to free worksheets, printables, and downloads to assist in business organization.
If you think you have some great freebies that should be added to that list, add a comment to any of the newer pins and tag me @brandingbyjulie in the comment and I’ll add you to the board so you can add your pins as well.
Coming up before the end of the year, I’ll be sharing one last You Are Your Business post discussing the importance of having that support group to lean on and reach out to for help and guidance as you embark on your own business adventures.
Now, I’d love to hear from you! What other resources do you use to strengthen your business? What other business planning elements do you think are essential to start thinking about right from day one? Share your thoughts below and let us know.
If you found this post helpful, please share it with your friends and family. Share the knowledge!