So here we are, the second part of this two-part series on writing a freelance business plan!
In this post, I’ll be sharing how I put together some of the most important parts of a business plan without crumpling up into a ball and crying – because business plans don’t have to be painful at all!
Don’t forget to read part 1 of “How To Write A Freelance Business Plan” here first!
At the end of this post I will also be sharing a free downloadable template which covers off all the areas these two posts have explored, so you can get started on writing your freelance business plan straight away! SWISH.
OH FUCKITY FUCK DID I STRUGGLE WITH THIS. It sounds ridiculous, but trying to narrow down who your customer is can be an absolute ballache.
It’s particularly difficult when you’re first starting out because really you want your customer to be everyone and their cat, so you can get all of the clients all of the time. But let’s get real for a sec, shall we? As much as you might think anyone and everyone could benefit from your product or service, this isn’t true.
Trying to appeal to everyone just means you’ll end up appealing to no one. Figuring out who your target customer is will make your marketing efforts so much easier.
So, how do you build a customer profile? You use a table with the following headings:
- Customer profile – who are they, what do they do, how many employees do they have and where are they based?
- Why are you targeting them? Are they local so easy to reach out to? Do they have a specific need for your services?
- How are you going to reach out to them? Will you meet them at networking events, or will you find them on Facebook groups?
- How will you convince them to buy from you? Can you offer them a specific package or deal that meets their needs?
- What activities will you do to market to them? Will you have business cards or leaflets to hand out?
- What costs are associated with this marketing?
OK, so I realise that’s an absolute clusterfuck of questions but there’s no rush to have all the answers straight away. Get creative and hypothesise about who these customers are… and make sure they are who you want to be working with!
In my freelance business plan, I’ve created four customer profiles but you can create as many as you like! Try and have at least two unless your target audience really is that niche!
So you know who your customers are, but who are your competitors? It’s always tempting to be a bit general and vague here but it pays to have a deeper understanding of what you’re up against so you can adapt your marketing messaging accordingly!
Here’s the questions to ask yourself when drawing up your competitor analysis:
- Competitor profile – who are they, what do they do, how many employees do they have and where are they based?
- What are you competing with them on? As an example, if you’re a copywriter, one of your competitors might be digital agencies who have a larger team (aka bigger capacity) and more of a budget to advertise.
- Why do customers buy from them? Maybe they offer a fuller service than you do? Or perhaps they just don’t know any better?
- Why should customers switch to you? This is probably the most important question to give thought to. What is it that you can do better? Perhaps you can offer a more personal touch or a more expert set of skills than a generalist.
- What activities need to be done to ensure they make the switch? Consider the marketing messages and tasks to carry out to push those messages out there.
- What costs are associated with these activities? So covering the same as with competitor analysis, what will it cost you to create the collateral you need?
For my business, I chose to do two competitor profiles but you can do as many as you feel are relevant! Some types of businesses will require more whilst some will only have one core competitor type.
Services & Costs
OK, so you know your audience and your competitors…now it’s time to jot down what services you’re offering! This can be a simple list, or if you offer packages you could break those down.
It’s handy to include as much detail as you can, especially when it comes to how you cost your services. This will give you something to refer back to when you’re putting together a quote for a potential client as well.
With my business, I also offer bespoke quotes but within my business plan I include a sentence that explains the way I work out my costings. This is just for me, and it will also be good to look back to and update when I’m in a position to raise my rates.
Don’t panic if you’re not sure on how you are costing things straight away – it’ll probably change over time anyway! Go with your gut and what feels comfortable. I’ve yet to have a client ask me to justify my costs anyway, and a good client would never ask you to.
Your Mini Marketing Plan
OMG YOU GUYS WE’RE ALMOST THERE! This is the last part of the business plan, and one of the most creative aspects…hurrah!
When I was searching online for “marketing plan templates” I was often presented with hideously long documents that I never would have got round to doing in the first place, let alone referring back to it from time to time.
Then I came across one that was way, way more simple. It’s a short table made up of two columns – Category and Strategy. Category is the area of the plan, and the Strategy is your action plan. Here’s the categories:
- Why the business exists – in the Strategy column, sum up in 1 sentence what your business is here to do
- What sets the business apart from the rest – this time in the Strategy column, list 3-4 USPs
- Your ideal customer for this year – who are you going to focus on targeting this year? Take one of your audience profiles and commit to getting more of them on board!
- What’s most important to that customer? – Why do they need you, and what approach is going to match that need?
- What do you want to accomplish this year? – Try and avoid generics such as “get more clients” and instead think about what will get you there. For example, one of the things I want to accomplish is to get more feedback from existing clients…more testimonials are a great selling tool!
- The top 3 things that will help – What will help you achieve your aspirations? This could include dedicating time to outreaching to past clients for feedback.
- What will trigger your target customer to think of you? On my business plan, I have put that I will attend more face to face networking events as they feel the most comfortable and successful way to reach my target audience.
- Other activities you will run to reach your goal – In this section I put that I want to dedicate more time to social media promotion and keeping my website updated with relevant information about my services.
- Budget – How much budget will be required to reach your goal(s), and where will it come from?
You may notice that there is a little bit of repetition in the marketing plan to the earlier parts of your business plan, but the purpose of the mini marketing plan is to condense those strategies into something simple to take away and work with for the year ahead.
…You’ve done it! You made it through. Congratulations…and I promise it’s worth it!
Ready to get cracking on your own freelance business plan? Well alrighty then!
I’ve kept it quite plain for you, so add your logo to the header and make it pretty vibrant colours if you like…it’s yours to play with!