Your business plan doesn’t need to be formal or complicated, especially as a service-based creative entrepreneur who is working alone or with a small team.
It’s somewhere to keep your goals and your vision for your business, so you can keep checking back to make sure you’re on track.
Without a business plan, or with a plan that you only revise every January (I used to be guilty of this!), you run the risk of looking back and thinking “well, what did I actually do all year…?!”.
I’ve written and rewritten several business plans over the years for my website design business, and the one that has stuck with me and helped me especially over this past year in my business is my Amber Phillips Design Masterplan that I keep in a Google Sheet.
By using a Google Sheet, I can easily check my progress and update the plan, without having to scroll through pages of text.
I’ve included this masterplan for free – download it below!
Use the business plan template to create your goals and work out your income, and then think about the ways that you can reach these goals.
I’m running a training to follow on from this in my Facebook group. Once you have your goals and income tracker in place using the masterplan template, we can work on a specific plan of action – your marketing plan. This training will be at 11am on the 23rd September 2019. Make sure to join the group to take part.
Watch the video below or scroll down to read the blog post and get started on your new money-making business plan!
This video was originally posted in my Facebook group Amber in my Pocket. To get access to live training and to see what’s coming up next, join here.
There are 6 sheets in total in this masterplan template. We’ll go through them sheet by sheet.
The very first thing you see in the business plan template is your Big Bold Statement. Use this to say who you are, who you help and what outcome you provide.
E.g. Hi, I’m Amber and I help service-based creative entrepreneurs to create beautiful and sales-focused websites that make them money and grow their business!
You know exactly what you do, but its helpful to include this big bold statement right at the top of your masterplan to keep this to a nice succinct statement. You can then use this statement throughout all of your business and marketing materials to make it really clear who you help and what you do.
Below your big bold statement, there’s a table to record all of your services and products.
Write the name of the service, the aim or outcome, what it includes, who it’s for, the price, the timeframe and the process.
I only have a handful of services, but it’s helpful to write down all of these details so that I stay consistent and so that it’s not just floating around in my brain!
An example for this sheet would be:
Service – Custom website.
Aim – To create a beautiful and sales-focused website that helps my clients to stand out and generate an income online.
What it includes – 5 pages, simple sales funnel, 2 wireframes to choose from, 2 designs to choose from and 2 rounds of revisions.
Who it’s for – service-based creative entrepreneurs e.g. coaches, photographers, copywriters…
Price – £3,000.
Timeframe – 2 weeks.
Process – Documented in Todoist.
For my own business, I tend to keep the process documented elsewhere because there are so many parts to it, so I use Todoist. Asana and Trello are also good apps to record your processes.
The next tab is branding. I like to keep everything about my business on this masterplan so that I can stay consistent and so that I never lose any of my information.
I used to have a really complicated array of documents on my computer. I had separate docs for each of my services, a whole different branding folder with a brand board hidden somewhere in there, a document with all of my goals… Now I have all of this information in one easy-to-use Google Sheet.
In the branding sheet, write down your brand colours, your fonts, your brand voice, photography guidelines… Everything that makes up your brand. Refer back to this whenever you create something new so that you can keep your branding consistent.
If you have a brand board, you can also click and drag the image into the sheet.
In the dream client sheet, you can see lots of questions to really dive deep in to who your dream client or target audience is.
I find it really helps to think of one specific person or avatar. Give them a name, think about what they do as a hobby, what problems do they have, how can you help them.
By creating a dream client avatar, it makes it a lot easier to come up with products/services that help them and it also makes writing new content or planning your marketing a lot easier too.
You may find that the target audience for each of your products or services differs slightly, although there should be an overarching theme.
For example, my target audience is service-based creative entrepreneurs, but the people that will sign up for my course have a smaller budget and want to create their website themselves, whereas the people who book a custom website have a higher budget and want to invest in a professional.
This is where it gets really fun! I love creating goals and I especially love ticking them off when I’ve achieved them, which is hopefully what this masterplan will help you to do!
When writing out your goals, think about whether they’re SMART.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Timely
I’ve divided up the goal sheet into sections to make sure all the goals really are SMART. I used to write things like “Get more email subscribers” or “Be more stress-free!” but they are not smart goals.
An example is:
Increase my email list to 100 subscribers by December 2019.
I’ve made it specific, it’s measurable because I have the number that I need to reach, it has a deadline so it’s timely, and I believe its realistic and achievable.
At the bottom of the goals sheet, I’ve included a box titled The Dream.
Go crazy here and write exactly what you want to achieve. What will your life look like once you’ve reached your goals, how much money will you make per month, what’s on your bucket list that you can finally tick off… Dream big!
This box can house the goals that are less SMART, like my ‘be less stressed!’. In this box I might write something like “I’d like to live in my dream house with my own separate office. I work part time hours, making a big impact while raising a family. We travel and have adventures regularly while still being able to make money doing what I love. I help 100’s of creative entrepreneurs to grow their business every year and feel relatively stress-free with a great work life balance”.
Write something that you can look back on and think “ahhh… yes, that’s why I’m doing this”. Trust me, it’s motivation in a box.
The income plan sheet is arguably the most important part of the masterplan. It’s going to help you figure out HOW you’re actually going to reach those goals and grow your business.
Let’s focus on the left hand side first, working down the sheet.
At the very top, you’ve got your income goal for the year. Put something that’s a stretch, but still realistic (rather than £1,000,000… Unless that really is your goal, in which case, kudos!).
Income predictions, business expenses and profit automatically update based on what you record in the rest of the sheet, so you won’t need to update anything here.
In the tax prediction box, I’ve included a link that you can use to check how much tax you’ll likely have to pay so you can factor that in to your profit.
Moving down we’ve got information on your services. Detail each service and how much it is, then how many monthly sales you’d like to make and for how many months (for example, you may only sell one of your larger services every other month).
Filling in this information gives you a figure in the ‘yearly income’ box and also updates the ‘income predictions for this year’ box at the top.
You can fiddle around with these numbers until you reach your goal income in the income predictions box.
You might find that you’re far from your target, which means you either have to raise your pricing, introduce a new service/product or figure out a way you can sell a lot more. This part of the sheet helps you to figure out those goals.
Below this, you can detail expenses. Expenses will usually vary month by month, but you can detail all of your usual monthly or yearly expenses here to get a rough idea of your expected profit.
If you need extra rows for more services or expenses, double check the formula to make sure it’s adding up all of numbers. If you get stuck on this, send me a message or post in my Facebook group.
Now, on to the right hand side of the income plan sheet.
Most of the information at the top automatically updates based on what you’ve put in the monthly figures below.
Each month, take your figures from your accounting software (I recommend QuickFile) and put them in to your income plan.
The figures at the top, (income so far for this year, business expenses so far this year, profit, and amount to goal) all automatically update to give you a snapshot of how your business is going financially this year.
In the box ‘Amount I need to make each month’, double click on the figure and change the second number in the formula to the amount of months left in the year. This will update to show you roughly how much you need to make each month to reach your goal.
This sheet helps you to track money, something that a lot of business owners shy away from, and helps you to make decisions on what to do with your marketing to reach your income goal.
DAY TO DAY
And finally, the day to day running of your business. In this sheet, detail your working hours, days off and holiday.
It’s so easy as an entrepreneur to work every waking hour, but its not healthy and it often doesn’t move you closer to your goal – specific and focused work does.
By writing down all of your work hours here, you are setting yourself boundaries and expectations as to how you’ll work. This also helps when communicating with clients or hiring team members.
There’s also a schedule where you can detail any specific work days, like content creation days or client days.
This will become clearer after the next training on how to create a marketing plan, where we make a plan of action on how to reach your goals and dream income! This will be in my Facebook group at 11am on the 23rd September.
If you have any questions on how to work with this business plan template, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post in my Facebook group.
I’d also love to hear from you about what you think of the template and what goals you’ve set for yourself! Let’s keep each other accountable!