Creating a business plan is one of the most overlooked steps for entrepreneurs. This is sad considering a business plan doubles your chances of success. At NWB, we want to make sure that you have the tools to succeed as a business owner, a content generator, and an online entrepreneur. As I am working through a new business planning process, I wanted to share a tutorial with you about creating a business plan for your online business. Following these steps does not guarantee success, but it certainly makes it easier.
Defining Your Business
Defining your business is a key first step to any planning process. In a way this is the who, what, when, and where. In general you should begin with focusing on what product or service you are going to offer. This is really the process that follows the idea generation phase where you focus on niche site ideas or profitable niches. However, ultimately you do need to define what your will be doing and what you will be offering. You should ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Do I have the skills to provide this service?
- Do I have the ability to sell these products?
- Who am I focusing on for my online business?
- Am I solving a problem for someone?
The are ultimately examples but you truly need to boil it down to what you will be doing. It can be book keeping, marketing wordpress website templates, reviewing baby monitors, developing an online therapy services, and so on . . . The key to defining your business is actually defining it. Too many entrepreneurs make the mistake of not understanding the bare minimum of who, what, when, and where. For example, Ray Kroc of McDonalds famously said “We are in the real estate business, not the hamburger business.” Ultimately knowing what you are selling or offering will help you focus on the end goal: a successful online business.
Defining Your Audience
Defining your audience is the absolute next step. To be a successful online entrepreneur you need to have a relentless focus on the customer. For me, if you focus on the customer, you will be fine. However, too many individuals jumpy straight to asking themselves how am I going to make money. I view this step as a two fold process. First, who is your audience and second how can you help that audience?
Let’s think about it, when you are creating niche sites you are focusing on someone who will be interested in your content or your services. In the case of reviewing baby monitors, your target audience are families with children or families who are about to have children. How can you help that audience? By providing that audience with the best information possible on baby monitors. This helps you focus on the absolutely goals of your customer.
Your Goals and Your Customer’s Goals Must Absolutely Align
In this process, focus on your definitive business service in step 1 and then ask yourself some questions:
- Who will need to read my content?
- Who will need the services I am offering?
- What problems can I solve for customers?
- What can I do with this business to benefit customers?
Ultimately when you focus these first two steps, you will know the service your offer and the customer that you will offer it to.
For Further Reading
Defining Your Opportunities
Opportunity is a big word. Opportunity includes much more than one might think. It encompasses market opportunity, financial opportunity, product opportunity, and even personal opportunity. You need to intimately understand the opportunities within your niche so that you can formulate a strategy to reach your customers in a viable manner. One of the first steps I take is jumping to my own research process. This normally starts with keyword research. For more information on that, checkout our Ultimate Guide to Keyword Research Tools.
Once you have had the opportunity to research your keywords, you probably will have a general idea of the competition. Now is the fun part though. Take all of those keyword research tools and visit competitors. The only way to beat the competition is to know the competition.
Visit those websites and ask yourself these questions:
- What are they doing that helps me?
- If I were to visit this website or online business, is it responsive to my needs?
- What can I do better than the competition?
- What can I do to differentiate my business from the competition?
By focusing on the competition, you can create Blue Ocean Strategies. The concept of a Blue Ocean Strategy is the process of creating uncontested market space for your business. You can focus on elevating your business and services far beyond others to create market space. Once you accomplish an understanding of the competition, you can begin to strategize and analyze financial opportunity, the products you can offer, and ultimately how you can personally focus on this opportunity.
For Further Reading
Creating a Business Plan
Once you accomplish the above, you can focus on creating a business plan that works for you and your website. It is as simply as creating a one page summary that includes a combination of the above. The key to any business plan is that it is a fluid low risk analysis of a business. You will make mistakes, markets will change, and ultimately you will need to adapt. However, starting with this process of business planning will help you succeed where others have failed, grow where others have not, and find success where others have fallen. There are millions of resources on formatting your business plan but ultimately if you can understand the topics above, you can succeed.