How to write a Business Plan (+ free template)

Do you have a formal Business Plan for your business?

According to a survey by the National Australia Bank approximately 40% of Australian small businesses do not have a Business Plan and about 21% of small business owners claim they do not have time to write one. The survey also apparently found that one third of Australian small businesses fail because they don’t have a Business Plan.

I personally didn’t have a Business Plan in the early days of starting my online business. I remember setting a goal in my first year of business to show up like a pro and act like a CEO – which led to me making time to write my first Business Plan. Since then, I have reviewed and updated my Business Plan at least twice a year (usually in December and June).

Now in full disclosure, I suspect my Business Plan would not be approved by a bank, but I haven’t written it for this purpose. I haven’t used it for seeking funding or for external means. I use it for me. I use the process of writing and reviewing my Business Plan to:

  • reconnect with my WHY and with my vision for my business;
  • remind me to audit what is working and not working;
  • pause and appreciate my business evolution;
  • do a financial forecast for the year ahead and determine how this might influence my work and marketing;
  • create a big picture plan in terms of content creation, marketing and public relations;
  • encourage me to identify priorities for moving forward;
  • re-evaluate my Give Back Policy; and
  • be mindful of integrating self-care, personal development and my ‘whole self’ into my work.

It is important to me that my Business Plan reflects my values. Each time I review and update it, I want the process to stretch and challenge me, but I also want it to feel aligned with who I am, what I do, and why my business is important to me.

Before writing your Business Plan, it is important to identify your purpose for doing so. If you want to know how to write a Business Plan for the context of applying for funding or for external uses, there a plenty of articles out there that can assist you.

If you are primarily wanting to write a Business Plan for YOU and for your team to feel focused and in tune with your vision and values, I hope this article will help you.

I will take you through the core components of my Business Plan and will give you access to a template that you can download and make your own. In doing this, please remember that my way isn’t the only way. Focus on how you can make your Business Plan work for you. How can you make it align with your values? How can you make it help you focus on the areas that you think you need to regularly focus on in your business? How can it make you feel like you are showing up in your business like a pro and CEO?

Continue reading to learn how to write a Business Plan using my model.

HOW TO WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN – CORE COMPONENTS

Mission

Insert a description of your MISSION here. What is your big WHY? What is your ultimate mission?

Vision (short, medium + long term)

Describe your short (1 year), medium (2 years) and long term (5 years) vision for your business. What will your business look and feel like at these points?

Ideal client

Insert a description of your ideal clients. Who are they? What do you know about them? How do they feel? What issues are they experiencing? Why are they coming to you?

Feel in (self + other)

Insert your intention words here.

How do you want to feel in your business? Do you want to feel abundant, confident, expansive, professional? 

How do you hope your ideal clients or audience will feel regarding their experience of you and your business? Do you want them to feel hopeful, inspired, calm, motivated? 

Professional bio (current + future)

Insert two versions of your bio here – your current version and the ideal future version of your bio (once you’ve created everything you’ve wanted to create, have all the award and accolades, all the qualifications, experience, impact etc you desire).

Website (short + long term)

Insert two versions of a website map or vision here:

  • Short term website: How do you hope your website will look by the end of the year? What will be in the navigation bar? Insert a website map or description of your website here.
  • Long term website: How do you hope your website will look in the long term? What will be in the navigation bar for your ultimate dream website? What will exist on your site once you have created everything you plan to create, have all of the accolades, achievements, qualifications, etc that you desire? Insert a website map or description of your long term dream website here.

Content (type, themes, frequency, titles)

Provide information on your content plans here or a reference to a separate Content Plan / Strategy / Schedule. This includes details on:

  • Content type: What type of content will you focus on this year? Will it be blogs, vlogs, podcasts, other?
  • Content themes: What will be the main themes / topics / ‘buckets’ that you will focus on in your content this year?
  • Content topics / titles: Insert a brainstorm of content topics / titles that you could create this year under each of your above content themes and/or reference to a separate document where you have detailed your content topics for the year
  • Frequency: How often will you produce content (e.g., weekly, fortnightly, monthly) and when (e.g., Monday, Tuesday, etc)? Insert a high level summary of your content schedule and/or a detailed schedule and/or reference to a separate document providing such details (e.g., a Content Strategy + Schedule).

Mailing list (opt-in strategies, newsletter frequency)

Provide information on your plans concerning your mailing list here. This might include:

  • Newsletter frequency: How often will you send newsletters to your mailing list subscribers and when? Insert a high level summary of your newsletter schedule.
  • Opt-in strategies: How will you entice people to subscribe to your mailing list this year? What opt-in/s will you create? What will be your main list-building activities?

PR (plans, platforms)

Provide information on your PR Strategy for the year. This might include:

  • A brainstorm of a list of digital, print + other media publications, platforms etc that you would like to feature on.
  • Your PR Plan / Schedule or a reference to this separate Plan/Schedule.

Offerings

Insert outline / descriptions of offerings / products / services etc you plan to create or have available by the end of this year. I also like to add a list of offerings / products / services I hope to launch the following year too.

Expenses / Budget

Insert a budget / outline of your current expenses – plus any aspirations you have around reducing expenses or adding new expenses (e.g., this is the year I will hire a VA or designer on a retainer) throughout the year.

Goals (overall, social media, website traffic, financial, mailing list)

In this section, break down all of your business goals for they year. This might include:

  • Overall business goals
  • Current social media statistics and goals
  • Current website traffic statistics and goals
  • Current mailing list statistics and goals
  • Past income and future income goals  

Support + connection

Who do you currently connect with and have a relationship forming with in your business interactions and networking? Who would you like to maintain connections / relationships with this year? Who would you like to build a relationship with this year? What can you do to enable this (in a genuine way)? 

How do you currently receive / seek support in your business? Do you hope to maintain these? How do you hope to seek support in your business? What support do you most need? What can you do to ensure you have support in your business this year?

Giving Back

Articulate the different ways that you plan to give back or operate your business in a more socially / environmentally responsible way this year. Alternatively, you might like to link to or reference a separate Give Back Policy.

Self-care + growth

What do you need to do to take care of yourself this year? What do you need to do to ensure your efforts are sustainable? What will be your self-care strategy and focus areas? How can you integrate these into your business practices and days?

What personal and professional development areas are important for the year ahead? What do you want to do to develop personally and professionally? How can you ensure this happens?

HOW TO WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN – FREE TEMPLATE

If you would like to use my Business Plan template click on the image below to access your choice of a Word or Pages document. Feel free to then make it your own – delete parts that don’t resonate with you, add parts that do, go to town! And feel free to tag me on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) while you create your Business Plan – I’d love to witness you do so!

If you know someone who might find this article and template useful, please forward it to them. And if you want one-on-one support from an award-winning coach in bringing your business vision and goals to life – please check out my business coaching packages here.

Okay, it’s time to go put some finishing touches on the recent version of my own Business Plan!

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  • Hi there. I couldn’t access the free template as I couldn’t select the button to accept the privacy terms on my phone.

    • Ohh thanks for letting me know Laura and I’m so sorry for the inconvenience. I’ll get my tech person to fix that for us. In the meantime, you should be able to click the SIGN UP button without checking that box OR please flick us an email to hello(at)naomiarnold(dot)com and we’ll directly send you the link to the template. Thank you!