” The plan never survives contact with the enemy.” – General George Patton (or some other war hero)
Yes, I may not know the exact person who came up with that quote but the point is clear.
Your first plan is probably going to suck.
Let me come at this with a different quote:
” Everybody has a plan till they get punched in the face.” – Mike Tyson
Another quote telling you your first plan is most likely going to fail. And most times it does fail.
The first plan you make for your online business isn’t going to be perfect. You’re not going to start blogging today, and immediately write one post that will go viral. You’re not going to just create that app that would make you a billionaire a month after you start learning app development.
Your first plan will not work.
Now, you’re thinking, “Tomi, If the first plan won’t work, what is the point of even making a plan at all?”
This is the point. You can’t hit a target you can’t see. And when you see the target, to hit it, you have to take action by aiming at the target and firing till your aim is right and you hit the target.
So it’s not about just having goals, you have to take action. And it’s not just about taking action, it’s about ensuring that the actions you are taking are leading you towards the goal and adjusting where necessary.
Ensuring that the actions you’re taking are actually leading you towards the goals you want to achieve – that’s why you need a plan.
You need to know what actions you’re taking so you can monitor what’s working and what isn’t. That way, you can do more of what works and less of what’s not.
The first plan you make won’t work, yes, but subsequent plans will. And that’s why you need to make a plan for your online business.
So how do you create a plan for your online business?
Well, that’s what this post is about so keep reading. Let’s begin…
How To Create An Online Business Plan
I talked a bit about making a business plan in this post, but now, we’re going to dive deeper.
First thing you need to know is your first plan is your hypothetical business plan.
This means it’s going to be based on a few guesses you make about your product, and your customers. This is because in the beginning, you don’t have enough information to come up with a plan that covers everything.
You’re going to need to come up with guesses that answer a few questions:
(i) What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?
“..What’s your selling point?” – D’Prince
I define unique selling proposition as a winning difference that sets you apart from the competition. It is the summary of what you bring to the table. What the customer is paying you for.
It can be anything – from a cheaper price to faster delivery to a different target audience, to a different style of writing. Whatever it is, it’s a different way of delivering value to your customer, one that you assume is what your target customer really wants.
Finding your unique selling proposition is about finding an angle for your business. A new way of solving a problem. One that is unique, different and better than the ones currently available.
The first plan though is hypothetical, so after you do Steps 1- 6 in this post about things to do before launching an online business, then you make an educated guess about what your unique selling proposition would be.
(ii) How will you fulfill your USP?
This question is asking about the process, after a customer places an order for your product or service.
What is going to be your process or system for delivering what you offer to your customer?
You need to detail every step of the process from receiving the customer’s order to delivering that order.
Come up with a system for delivering your value to the customer, outline who and what you would need to fulfill the USP, and go about acquiring them.
(iii) How will you market your business and acquire customers?
Here, you need to figure out what means would you be using to promote your business.
Will you be using Pay Per Click Ads, Facebook Ads, or focusing mainly on SEO? Or will you be marketing offline, with banners, and newspaper ads?
This is the part where you come up with an online marketing and an offline marketing strategy.
An integral part of this is knowing your target customer and knowing where they hang out. That way you can tailor your strategy to find your customers where they are and market to them directly.
(iv) What will your sources of revenue be?
99% of businesses go bankrupt because they don’t make enough sales to stay in business.
NO sales = NO revenue or profit = NO cash flow.
Cash flow is the life force of any business. Without it, you might as well be running an NGO or a hobby.
What products would you offer? Would you be offering free consultations, ebooks or physical products? Would you also advertise other products on your site?
Outline these in your plan, as well.
The types of products/ services you offer would ultimately depend on the kind of online business you want to launch.
(v) What would your pricing structure be?
Would you use an up-front payment structure, or a “pay half now, pay balance when job is done” payment structure? Or would it be subscription based?
Your pricing structure would ultimately depend on who your customer is and what they can afford, but like other aspects of this hypothetical business plan, you can only make an “educated guess” when you’re making the business plan.
Come up with a tentative pricing structure (one which you believe is fair to the customer while still allowing you profit) and test it out.
There you have it. An easy-to-follow guide on how to create an online business plan. You need to remember though. This is only just the first plan. When you’re done creating it, you need to then go out and test every educated guess you made in this plan, and make changes where necessary.
Author: Tomi Joshua
Tomi is a case.
A bit brash, at first blush. But ultimately, he means well. There are very few things he won’t say or do in the presence of tolerant company (especially when it could make for a good story later).
Tomi is a Doctor, writer, certified inbound marketer (Shout Out to HubSpot), Digital Hustler, and online business addict.
He is most likely to be found dancing to the beat of his own drum, even in accapella.