Develop a business plan, already

June 12, 2009

Our plans miscarry because they have no aim.  When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind. ~ Seneca


Every morning when I crawl out of bed with drool tracks smeared across my cheeks and my hair looking something akin to a sparrow’s nest, there’s only one thing I can imagine being worse than the annoying honk of my alarm clock at 5am. That’s trying to summon the motivation to go into the basement and pop in my kickboxing workout video. On comes some 4-foot-nothing blonde ball of energy, bouncing across my TV screen like those kangaroos on the Discovery Channel. She tells me we’re going to have “a great time sweating”.  I stare at her from the other side of the room, wearing Betty Boop pajamas and a scowl, thinking…I wonder how many Snickers bars it would take for me to get like that.

Still, there’s one thing she says to me every morning that resonates. She tells me you have to write down your goals if you ever hope to achieve them. She tells me I need a plan. And she’s right. When it comes to being a freelance writer, developing a business plan is essential. As someone who prefers the spontaneous side of things, I know many of you are probably thinking you’d rather be forced to listen to the “Ice Ice Baby” song for 5 hours straight (or, er, maybe that’s just me). But writing down your goals doesn’t have to be a daunting or torturous task.

It’s easy, really. I advise you to make a 1-year roadmap detailing your freelance goals (especially important if you’re a newbie, such as myself). Make a list of major goals you have, such as landing your dream client, putting more bacon on the table, or maybe even breaking into a new niche. Give each of these a start date and deadline so you have the end in sight. Next, figure out the sub-steps or mini-goals you’ll have to take to achieve your bigger goals. Write these as bullet points underneath your main goals. Whatever you do, make sure your goals are realistic. In other words, if it’s your first year of freelancing, no duh you aren’t going to win the Nobel Peace Prize for your first published work. Don’t make yourself feel like you’ve already failed by picking impossible goals to attain within the timeframe you’re considering.

You can write your business plan on paper and tack it to your wall or frame it over your office desk. You can record it on your blog. Whatever works for you. Personally, I prefer to keep mine in visible sight somewhere I’ll see it everyday, so I’m constantly reminded of what direction I’m headed in and how I plan to get there. I even like to give them creative names. My business plan for this year is entitled: How NOT to become Johnny from The Shining anytime soon.

Business plans are so valuable to freelancers because:

  1. They keep you motivated and on track.
  2. They give you a way to assess your current progress and evaluate whether or not you’ve put in the necessary effort at the end of the year so you’re always moving ahead and advancing in your career.
  3. They remind you of the reasons you blew off that 9-5 gig after all, just to sit in front of your computer for hours on end in cartoon pajamas and bird-nest hair, scooping mac&cheese into your open piehole.

One comment

  1. […] Read the rest of this great post here […]

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