Most people understand the importance of a business plan for physical business. However, many skip over this step with virtual businesses such as online courses. Whether online or brick and mortar, running a business takes a lot of time and effective planning before the dollars roll in. In fact, 20% of businesses fail within the first year. And the lack of a business plan is one of the biggest reasons why.
Because 64% of American preferring to shop online, having a plan for your online business is important now more than ever. If you’re looking for a steady flow of income from your online course or otherwise, consider creating (or revamping) a business plan to give your business the opportunity to thrive.
Building a business plan
A business plan as defined by Investopedia is: “… a written document that describes in detail how a business—usually a startup—defines its objectives and how it is to go about achieving its goals. A business plan lays out a written roadmap for the firm from marketing, financial, and operational standpoints.”
Though a business plan is typically written before launch, it’s essential to revisit and revise as goals and objective change. For instance, many business owners have pivoted different aspects of their businesses at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Constant changes in business and in the world are great reasons to document new goals and objectives in your business plan as they arise.
Though they can be pretty extensive, business plan components include the following.
This is a short summary of your business plan. It includes key information such as your business name, location, your products or services, and information about your employees and leadership team.
This is where you go into full detail about your business, including what makes it different from existing companies with similar products or services.
Scoping out the competition is a great way to set goals and objectives. In this section, outline who the competitors are, what they do well, and where your business can fill in any gaps.
Organization and management
If you’re not riding solo, make sure to outline the structure of your business. This includes an organizational chart complete with job titles and descriptions. In addition, include external stakeholders such as accountants and advisors that you’ll work alongside.
Service or product line
No business plan is complete without laying out every detail about the product or service you sell. From how your offering stands out against the competition to copyright and trademark information, this section is your turn to spell out what value your business will be offering to potential customers and the industry as a whole.
Marketing and sales
Courses (or any other product or service) aren’t going to sell themselves. Here, lay how you’re going to attract buyers and hopefully make them repeat customers who sing your business’s praises.
If getting funding for your business is a major goal, pay close attention to creating financial projections. For this portion of the business plan, you may want to connect with an accountant, especially if you’re just starting out.
Pro-tip: If you want a template to reference, you can check the U.S. Small Business Adminstration’s (SBA) official site for examples that can guide you.
Creating a business plan for your online business
Artist and creator Pablo Picasso once said, “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”
To better navigate your business, you first have to know where you are going (i.e. goals and metrics you wish to meet) and how to get there (i.e. with a “roadmap” or business plan). Though creating a business plan may seem like a daunting task, no one knows your business goals better than you. Take you time with your business plan. And, don’t be afraid to make changes as you see fit
If you’re seriously looking to scale your business, creating a business plan should be a the top of your to-do for 2022 and beyond.
If not, we have you covered. Our checklist with Natasha Samuel is your guide to launching your course on Instagram.