Running your own online business can give you a great sense of freedom. However this freedom has to be based in reality. It may seem you can get up each day, do whatever you want within the business and have no one to answer to. While it’s not impossible for you to be successful this way, it is very unlikely. Many businesses, whether they are large or small, fail due to a lack of planning.
You need to have plans. They don’t have to be in a certain format, like those a bank asks for when you apply for funding, but they should help you run your business. If it seems like planning is a lot of work, don’t focus on the effort involved. Think about the following advantages planning will give you.
1. Planning answers questions
As you research for your plans you’ll find yourself answering a lot of questions that will help your business. You will work out who your target audience is, what their problems are, how you can help them, the most efficient ways to provide your products or services, and the best ways to market them.
2. Help you create goals
Creating your plans will help you define the goals for your business. You will become clear about the journey you want your business to take, points along the way your business must pass through, and the timescales for reaching those points. Knowing what you are aiming for will help focus your commitment and organise your efforts.
3. Better decision-making
Having a set of plans for your business will help you make good decisions on a daily basis. You will be able to focus on what will move your business forward and ignore potential distractions. Almost everyone in the online marketing niche has suffered’shiny object syndrome’. Having a clear set of plans can make you immune to this malady.
4. Identify your USP
Your unique selling proposition is what makes you different from your competition. Researching what your target audience is looking for and what is already on the market will help you work out how to stand out from the crowd.
5. Help set budgets
Planning will help you identify what you need to do. This will help you determine what you need to invest in your business, and when you will need to invest it.
6. Help you build your business
As you plan and research you will become more familiar with your market. This will give you the opportunity to identify gaps in your products and/or services which you can fill as your business grows.
7. Help you react to changes
If you have the future course of your business laid out and regularly compare reality with your planned journey it’s more likely you’ll spot changes that can affect your business. These could be changes in the marketplace, technology that offers new opportunities, or under or over performing with respect to your plan. Spotting these opportunities and deviations early will help you react, either by making adjustments so you get back on course or by changing the plan.
Planning takes time, thought and effort, but if you want to know what you should be doing, where you’re going and how to get there you will need a set of plans. A plan to help create your product or deliver your service, a marketing plan and a budget are the bare minimum you should aim for. Even if each one is just one page long, writing down the steps you plan to take and how you plan to take them will make the success of your business more likely.