Want to have the perfect digital business plan that helps you master your business? Look no further. In its most raw form, a business plan is a road map to help entrepreneurs outline their goals and path to achieving their goals. It doesn’t need to be academic, difficult or draining. In fact, I created an easy button for you. I have the perfect business plan template for digital businesses and bloggers alike!
Honestly, in today’s day and age people ask if you even need a business plan? The answer is yes, but the amount of effort you put into it is completely based on your business.
I recommend that if you are just starting out as a solopreneur, it is a good exercise to go through even if you aren’t asking for any investments or loans.
It helps you understand your business ideas and map out your concepts more thoroughly. My main struggle in creating a digital business plan for a web-based business blog was that no one could tell me what was absolutely necessary, and how it should differ from a normal business plan. We’re going to fix that for you today!
Gotta put that shit on paper my friend, especially if you want to rely on it as a full-time income someday!
If this is you…If you’re ready to move forward and reading this, I can pretty much assume that you have a direction that you want to go in. Secondly, I am pretty sure that you 100% dreading this process. So, let me see what I can do to make it fun and easy for you!
Digital Business Plan Outline
- Brand Summary
- Brand Goals
- Market Analysis
- Competitive Analysis
- Operations & Org Structure
- Products & Services
- Marketing & Sales Plan
Step 1: Write out your Why
Write down your why for the business. What is the problem you are looking to solve?
Yea, I know everyone says this, but I want your to do it in a way that describes your intent.
Example: I want to start this business to teach people how to start their own business because this help others get to a path of financial freedom and location freedom.
Step 2: Brand Summary
A brand summary provides an intro to your blog / digital business, it’s purpose, objectives and strategy. Easy enough right!
Take your why (business reasons from step 1) and use it as the building blocks to create your Vision and Values.
A vision statement shows the place that the business aspires to be after achieving their mission (future).
Example: Helping entrepreneurs create more fulfilling lives and a world where work does not feel like work.
2.2 Mission Statement
From here, create your mission statement.
A mission statement describes the business’s function and goals (present day).
Example: Reinvent Your Hustle provides the tools and resources to assist aspiring entrepreneurs to build and grow their businesses.
Values are the core standards that your company lives by. Typically, companies choose 5 core principles to represent their business.
Example: RYH’s Values:
- Authenticity: Be authentic and real in all we do and say
- Value: Provide a value and service to individuals that drives growth and inspiration
- Quality: Provide excellence in literary works and documents
- Transparency: Open and honesty no matter the topic
- Actionable: Ensure that in all we do we provide actionable steps that can be implemented by our customers
This step should be transparent within your brand culture and in all you do.
2.4 Highlights of Growth
If you have an existing blog then this is where you can highlight growth in Pageviews, Social following etc. If you have a new blog, this is not necessary, rather your growth goal would be incorporated into your vision.
2.5 Ideal Customer
Define your ideal customer, if you're blogging, who are you blogging to? If your selling a digital product, who is that perfect customer? Easy button alert: Click here to check out my blog on identifying your ideal customer avatar
Wait, WTF is an avatar. An avatar is a fictitious representation of your ideal customer and is within your target market segment. An ideal customer avatar represents a business’ perfect customer.
This person will want or need your products and / or services. So, click here to make sure you land this part of your business plan! For reals!
2.6 Brand Culture
Tell the story of how you will write, what special things are you going to do with your brand that make it special and unique. What is your mantra with customers? Basically, what is your brand personality and how will that be represented in your images, writing, promotions and social interactions. This is your brand voice that separates you and makes you stand out.
Step 3: Brand Goals
Take your mission and vision and now break down how you’re going to get there. Your goals should be short term over the next year, breaking them down into quarterly goals. These goals should incorporate objectives, growth and financial perspectives.
Create 3 – 5 objectives for your brand for each quarter over the next year. These goals should be short and concise. Ensure that they are SMART Goals! Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
For a great HOW TO on SMART GOALS Click here!
3.2 Growth & Financial Perspectives
Know your Start-up Budget
Regardless of whether you are taking out a loan or you are going it without, you will have startup expenses and will want to account for them.
- Business Formation Fees (LLC / Sole proprietorship / Corp)
- Website, Domain & Website Development
- Branding Materials (photo shoot / business cards / promotional materials)
- Monthly internet fees
- New computer and software
- Office Supplies
If you want more on what tools I recommend for starting your business click here and then download my free cheat sheet!
For those of you that are not looking to take out a loan for the business or speak with investors I have a Financial Research Exercise that is ALMOST painless.
3.2.1 Financial Research Exercise
- A really useful tool I used to understand how much money a blog could accrue and what my growth patterns could look like was to look at income reports of bloggers on Pinterest
- Review 3-5 different sites within your niche
- Performing a case study on those blogs:
- Study each month of that blog and what they did over the course of those months to grow their revenue. This will help you to determine the profitability of your niche and analyze your potential growth rate.
- Performing a case study on those blogs:
3.2.2 Sales Forecast and Financial Planning Guidance
All the other stuff in the business plan is great, however if you do not have actual numbers to show that this plan is feasible you will have a hard time getting a bank loan or any investors.
For those that are looking for a bit more help in the lending department, you will need to create a Sales forecast.
Project your growth over the next 3 years. Don’t worry, it’s not that scary.
Create a spreadsheet in excel that shows your sales over the next three years.
If you have no reference point then you will need to make an educated guess based on past results and a little bit of research.
Here is how:
"Ideally you want to project in spreadsheet blocks that include one block for unit sales, one block for pricing, a third block that multiplies units’ times price to calculate sales.
Then add, “a fourth block that has unit costs, and a fifth that multiplies units times unit cost to calculate cost of sales (also called COGS or direct costs)," says Tim Berry, president and founder of Palo Alto Software, who blogs at Bplans.com (inc.com).
This will allow you to calculate gross margin. Gross Margin is the sales minus your costs.
For more on Financial forecasting, click here!
Step 4: Know your Niche
This step isn’t typically on a business plan, but this is where I as well as many others get tripped up. Know what you’re selling…. and to who.
Dun Dun Dun…
4.1 Land Your Niche
Click the easy button below to Land your Niche and get the tips on how to identify your market:
(if you haven’t already done so, download the “How to Find the Perfect Niche for your Business” from my website…its free!)
Now…. Narrow your niche even further (you cannot be everything to everyone).
Tim Ferriss once said, “It’s better to have 1,000 people that love you, than 100,000 people who think you’re just okay”
4.2 Keyword Analysis
Within the guide you will have already done a keyword analysis (cause you're so smart) and you would have used Google Trends to ensure that your market has the demand you are looking for.
Step 5: Define your Market
A target market is a group of consumers that you aim to sell and market your products and services toward.
Now that you have a well-established niche and you have done the additional research; you can define your market on paper.
First, Identify your platform (brick and mortar / online / both). Where are you selling?
Next, identify your customer.….sooo important. In order to know your marker and your competitors your need to first identify your customer.
Take the ideal customer avatar exercise that you performed in Step 1 and apply it here to define your market. Didn’t get there yet, Click here to check out my blog on identifying your ideal customer avatar
Lastly, now that you have identified your platform, clarified your customer, you can define the target market you are selling your product or services in.
5.3 How to Define my Target Market
What are the ins and outs of the market you are trying to enter? Are there existing products or services similar to yours and if so, who is buying?
Look on social media to those that have similarities that you can compare to. That leads us to the next step…comparative analysis.
No, definitely not and here is why.
Step 6: Competitive Analysis
It seems like a big and scary concept, but I can make it easy for you. Let’s break it down to easy steps.
A competitive analysis looks at your competition and potential competition to know your strengths and weaknesses.
The sooner you land this, the sooner you will know what your competitive advantage is. Competitive advantage is a fancy concept really is just what makes your product or service stand out and take the lead. What makes your product or service better than others?
6.1 Look at Your Competitors
You already identified those companies that may be similar to you, pick 3 and let’s take a closer look at how they compare to your product or service.
For example, if you are setting up an online store selling woven baskets, make sure to pick 3 online stores that are doing the same.
Price, service, delivery, variety of product may all be places that you might be vulnerable. Talk about the benefits you offer. Define what your product or service will offer that will be different than your competition.
Look for places that you feel you can out beat the competition. How will you take advantage of this?
6.1.3 Their Goals
Do they seem like they are growing rapidly? Are they looking to capture market share through other mediums? Try to look at their business through their eye to understand more clearly their objectives.
How are they marketing? Are they using diversity or social responsibility appeal to clients? What social platforms are they using etc.?
6.1.5 Unfair Advantage
How will you have an unfair advantage and take customers from them? A.K.A. What are the special talents and offerings you have for your business that they don't have. What makes your brand special, where no one can copy this unfair advantage?
Now, focus solely on your business and let go of your competitors for now, they are only a distraction.
Once you have done the research you can leave this alone and focus where you will get the greatest return.
Step 7: Operations & Org Structure
This will vary based on the size of your business. If you are a soulpreneur you do not need to exert much effort here. If you plan on employing people in your business, you may spend more time here.
7.1 Organizational Structure of Your Business
If you have an existing business and are accepting money, the you need to file taxes on that income.
Filing as an LLC (Limited Liability Company) or Sole Proprietor will protect your company as you grow.
If you have a partner you may decide that a partnership is the best way to go. Regardless, as your company grows you will need to create a business structure.
If you are a solo blogger and do not have employees then you do not need to do much more in this section except for identifying your resources.
7.2 Tools and Resources
Identify the following:
- Website provider
- Hosting provider
- Email service provider
- Web developer or Self-service
- Transaction Systems
7.3 HR Structure
If you plan to hire personnel, you will want to fill this section out more thoroughly to include:
- Personnel Planning
- Division of Responsibilities
Step 8: Products and Services
Now comes the fun part where we talk about the coolest part of your business, your products / services!
8.1 Define What You Sell
Define all that your company will be selling.
Include the following:
- Product Benefits
- Highlight Product Features
- Product Sourcing Strategies
- Packages? Price points?
- If it is a digital offering what is it? E-course? E-book? Consulting? Membership Site? Affiliate Programs? Get specific on how those will be presented and what features they contain
- Is there a story behind these products / services that customers NEED to know?
- Future Offerings
Step 9: Marketing and Sales Plan
The ninth step is one you most likely have thought of. How can you as the business owner bring the sale to life?
Talk about the following key components: (4 P’s: Product, Price, Place, Promotion)
Identify the following so you can promote it:
- What problem will this product solve?
- What features and benefits of your product and service will you exploit?
Outline a pricing strategy to target your ideal profit margin.
If you are providing a service, leverage time spent versus return here.
Make sure you include what your costs are and then your expense both fixed (they don’t change) and your variable (one-time costs or intermittent costs).
If you are selling a product: consider everything that the price of a product entails; variables that affect price include distribution and its location, the retailer’s price mark-up, competitor pricing, and payment plans.
You already indicated where you will be selling. Will other retailers sell your product?
Will a percentage of your sales be done in person? Will you be selling over a webinar or video? Identify this here and be specific on your model.
Also, be sure to have an exit strategy for each sales channel in case it is not selling as expected.
Is there shipping involved, are there delivery terms, do you have labeling requirements and if so, what does the cost and process look like?
- Do you have a budget for marketing?
- Are you going to use incentives to get people through the door or to the website?
- What does your launch strategy look like?
- What are some things you will do prior to launch; will you start promoting your blog or brand on social media?
Now, how do you plan to market to your target customer, what platforms you will use and how you will best reach them?
Marketing Platform Ideas:
- Pinterest Marketing Strategy
- Facebook Strategy
- Instagram Strategy
- Twitter Strategy
- Website Strategy
Determine how often will you market on each platform per week.
Want the free digital business plan template?
EASY BUTTON! Download our free digital business plan template today!
That’s a wrap my friend! high five and congrats to you for getting through this. You should feel much better about where your head is at with your business and much more prepared.
Are you ready to start your business but want a little one on one help to get your business soaring and making money? Let's chat! I want to help you! Email me at hello@reinventyourhustle today and I am happy to set up a free consult to see if we are a good fit for each other!
Otherwise, click here to submit any questions you have!