When you decide to run a business from home, you’ll have 101 projects to tackle.
One of the first steps I recommend you take is writing a business plan.
Yes, you’ll read advice from online gurus who tell you that in today’s modern era of digital businesses, a business plan is a waste of time.
They tell you that your business will change multiple times in the first three months, so why bother?
I disagree 100%.
A top solopreneur builds a business plan to avoid big mistakes and understand how the different pieces of the business puzzle fit together.
Your business plan is a roadmap to follow, so you can keep track of how to address key issues, including finance, operations, and marketing.
The business plan is your chance to work through the areas where you may not have experience and to make sure you can address your questions before the business gets moving.
When I coach new solopreneurs, here are the first two questions I ask:
“Did you write a strategy statement?”
“Did you write a business plan?”
You can guess the answers, right? Ignore the online guru advice and build a 1-page business plan. If you have questions about your solopreneur strategy, you can discover ways to fix them in this article.
6 Reasons Top Solopreneurs Build a Business Plan
- Define the BIG client problem you’ll solve.
- Identify customers who may buy your solution.
- Clarify the process for telling people about your product.
- Highlight the competition and underscore why your solution is unique.
- Create a financial snapshot of how money moves in your business.
- Determine your business entity and the important licenses you may need to operate.
Define the BIG Client Problem Your Start-up Solves
Solopreneurs build a business plan that identifies and solves one big problem.
Failure to find and fix a BIG client problem is a leading cause of solopreneur failure.
When you search for your 1 BIG client problem, you don’t need to revolutionize an industry or reinvent every wheel.
Apple did not change the music industry. They improved the listening experience.
Amazon did not change the retail industry. They improved the shopping experience.
There are two places you can look for a BIG client problem to solve.
YouTube, Amazon, and Reddit are treasure troves of reviews, opinions, and ideas.
Create a brainstorming folder and collect the comments that point out a flaw in a product or service.
I use Notion to organize ideas and find potential solutions.
Most folks post positive reviews, yet you’ll find incredible ideas within the ‘unhappy’ comments.
Solopreneurs build a business plan to identify and explore the challenges within their industry (think SEO, copywriting, online stores, etc.).
This exercise will give you important industry data.
When I started my finance business, I looked at the most successful firms that were in my sandbox.
I found their best ideas and tried to make them better. Pretend you work for your competitors and get started ‘fixing’ their services and solutions.
When you write your business plan, it’s essential to address your competition and how you’ll win.
Identify Customers Who Will Buy Your Solution
One quick and smart way to identify and attract potential customers for your product and service is to build your solution in public.
Tip: Build Your Solution in Public
Here are 3 benefits of building your solution in public.
- You receive essential feedback
Comments confirm your idea is ‘in the ballpark, and they give you ideas on how to improve it.
- You get a head start on marketing your product
When people get an early view of your product, it’s more likely they’ll follow your journey.
They are often the first to purchase your product, too.
- You increase your accountability
When you create alone, it’s easy to toss in the towel.
When you go public with your project, you feel a deeper commitment, and you’re less likely to abandon the idea.
Building your solution in public is a fast way to let folks know you’re creating a cool fix for a BIG problem.
Solopreneurs build a business plan to describe the marketing process.
Your plan should address the channels you’ll use to tell people about your product.
Each of these channels gets you in front of a different audience of potential customers.
Present these in your solopreneur business plan and explain how they enhance your message.
Write a blog post on your process and ask for feedback.
You’ll reach a unique audience who may comment with ideas on how you can improve your idea.
Ask to be a guest on a podcast. You don’t have to give the audience all your trade secrets.
Share the basics and tell them how to follow your progress.
One key contact to accelerate your podcast marketing plan is to chat with Dustin Riechmann.
You can explore a collaboration with Dustin, here.
TikTok and YouTube are also major distribution channels for you to consider.
Each attracts a different audience, so pick the one that best fits your target market.
Video is a powerful way to illustrate for your prospects the ‘before and after’ your service provides.
Folks want to feel the transition.
Show it to them.
Highlight the Competition
If there’s zero competition for your product or solution, you have a problem.
The competition section of your business plan describes competitors and how you’ll improve on current products.
Yes, it’s possible you’ll be the first to market a brilliant solution to an unfamiliar problem.
The odds are not in your favor. Top solopreneurs discuss competition in their business plans.
Your plan should define the traits that make your product unique compared to the competition.
Analyze your competition and be honest about your product’s advantages.
If you don’t have any, it’s going to be hard to find customers and generate sales.
Create a Financial Snapshot to Understand Risks
The first advisor you should consult when you launch your solopreneur business is an accountant.
A sharp CPA will highlight for you the common finance questions and analysis you should put into your solopreneur business plan.
Once you and your accountant have a financial strategy, I encourage you to collaborate with a bookkeeper.
The Financial Basics to Include in Your Solopreneur Business Plan
- An income overview (sales and expenses)
- Key financial ratios so you can gauge the fiscal health of your business
- Projections that offer you a realistic time frame to break even and generate a potential profit
If you have little finance expertise, your accountant can be an excellent resource.
In addition, a CPA can provide clarity on how to borrow and invest money for your new venture (if you so choose).
Choose a Business Entity and Consider Licenses
There are thousands of gurus online who tell new solopreneurs to ‘just start.’
I appreciate the intent. It’s bad advice.
When I worked in the financial services industry, I built a solo business to assist people with investments and financial planning.
To work in this industry, one needs licenses and certifications.
In your business plan, you should address compliance or industry standards you need to observe.
I consulted a CPA, attorney, and compliance team when I built my business to ensure I understood my obligations.
It’s no fun to run a business and then face legal or tax challenges 3 to 5 years down the road.
Your CPA and attorney have experience in various issues, including:
- Should you run a trademark or intellectual property search for your business name and products?
- Do you need operating licenses to conduct your business from home?
- Do you need to collect sales tax for specific online products, and how do you report the tax?
Next Steps and Additional Resources
It’s amazing that you’re starting a business. Give yourself a big advantage and write a 1-page plan.
Here are other sites you can visit to get moving in the right direction.
The Small Business Association gives you insight and suggestions on multiple small business topics.