How To Write A Business Plan

Now that you understand why you need a business plan and you’ve spent some time doing your homework gathering the information you need to create one, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get everything down on paper. The following pages will describe in detail the seven essential sections of a business plan: what you should include, what you shouldn’t include, how to work the numbers and additional resources you can turn to for help. With that in mind, jump right in.

Executive Summary

Within the overall outline of the business plan, the executive summary will follow the title page. The summary should tell the reader what you want. This is very important. All too often, what the business owner desires is buried on page eight. Clearly state what you’re asking for in the summary.

Business Description

The business description usually begins with a short description of the industry. When describing the industry, discuss the present outlook as well as future possibilities. You should also provide information on all the various markets within the industry, including any new products or developments that will benefit or adversely affect your business.

Market Strategies

Market strategies are the result of a meticulous market analysis. A market analysis forces the entrepreneur to become familiar with all aspects of the market so that the target market can be defined and the company can be positioned in order to garner its share of sales.

Competitive Analysis

The purpose of the competitive analysis is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors within your market, strategies that will provide you with a distinct advantage, the barriers that can be developed in order to prevent competition from entering your market, and any weaknesses that can be exploited within the product development cycle.

 Design & Development Plan

The purpose of the design and development plan section is to provide investors with a description of the product’s design, chart its development within the context of production, marketing and the company itself, and create a development budget that will enable the company to reach its goals.

Operations & Management Plan

The operations and management plan is designed to describe just how the business functions on a continuing basis. The operations plan will highlight the logistics of the organization such as the various responsibilities of the management team, the tasks assigned to each division within the company, and capital and expense requirements related to the operations of the business.

Financial Factors

Financial data is always at the back of the business plan, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important than up-front material such as the business concept and the management team.

 

How To Start Your Own Business

Starting your own business is one of the most powerful ways to take control of your life and make extra money month after month. You can start with just a few hours a week. And best of all, you get to choose your hours, pick projects you find exciting, and meet interesting people. With the help of the step-by-step systems you’ll find here, you can start getting clients faster and boost your earnings when you want to.

I’ll even show you how to build enough steady income that you can quit your day job, if you want to.

I’ve covered how to make more money elsewhere on this site. Right here, I’m revealing the advanced strategies behind launching a successful business that gives you the freedom to share your skills with the world — and create something people will pay you for, even when you aren’t working.

These are the same techniques I’ve spent over a decade and a million dollars refining. I’ve gathered over 1,000,000 data points while creating 15 different products that cost anywhere between the price of a latte to over $12,000… and I’ve helped over 1,000 students launch their own businesses, too.

You’ll learn the systems, strategies, and shortcuts I only dreamed of having when I started out… so you can launch faster and earn more.

Of course, all the business-building knowledge in the world isn’t very helpful unless you have the right psychological mindset and tools. That’s why I’ve invited some of the world’s leading experts on time management, productivity, and work/life balance to share their best secrets with you.
Now – the #1 requested IWT topic of all time:

How to start an online business

How to start an online business – 3 things you need to know

I want to show you the truth about starting a successful online business. Unlike unscrupulous marketers whose entire business is creating ebooks about creating ebooks, I’ve spent years teaching over 100,000 readers how to live a rich life — automate their finances and get out of debt, find their Dream Jobs,negotiate better salaries, and finish tasks they’ve put off for years.

Why do my students keep coming back? Why do they buy at a rate 1,235% higher than prospects? And how do I still have a refund rate much lower than the industry standard, despite a generous money-back policy? I’ll share how I do it — and how you can, too.

Online business ideas: what’s the best online business you could start?

It’s easy to get stuck with a low-profit business that sucks your time and money. I’ll show you how to avoid the mistakes I’ve made.

Want to know exactly what’s the best kind of online business to start? I could give you a bunch of theory, principles, and a long history of the relative pros and cons of each. Or I could just tell you the answer:

  • There are 6 main options for an online business
  • I have systematically tried them ALL, and I’ll tell you the straight truth about which online businesses are good (higher profit margins, less time) and which are bad (longer hours, less money)

The Zig/Zag Technique to finding an online business idea

When you’re the same as everyone else, you’re a commodity. And that means crummy pay, long hours, and bad customers. You do NOT want to compete against everyone in the world.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a man, a woman, a life coach, a stylist, an analytics guru, or a language tutor. Whether you’re trying to get a date or start an online business, if you’re the same as everyone, you’re doomed.

This is where the concept of ZIGGING and ZAGGING comes in. Where others zig, you zag.

I’ll show you how to stand out, so people will see that your product is unique and be happy to pay you more.

How to conquer self-sabotage

Do you have a friend who constantly asks you for advice, but then always makes excuses for not following through?

Have you ever heard this:

  • “Why doesn’t she ever call me back?” (Perhaps it’s because you make yourself way too available and desperation oozes off you.)
  • “I hate my job…” (yet you’ve done nothing to change it except complaining)
  • “Ugh, I really need to go to the gym” (but instead, these people will continue making excuses, like how they can’t afford the $50 even though they pay that much in late fees every month)

If we’re honest, WE’RE guilty of the exact same thing. I’ve spent a decade studying and testing the best ways to stop sabotaging yourself and start following through.

3 essential systems for starting an online business

Here’s the brutal truth. PASSION ISN’T ENOUGH.

You need business systems. I’m talking about repeatable, reliable, automated (or nearly automated) ways of completing key business processes. I couldn’t run I Will Teach without the systems I invented — and I definitely wouldn’t have the great work/life balance I enjoy.

IWT has thousands of systems now, but if you took it all away tomorrow, all you really need are these three. I spent years perfecting them, and you can use them right away.

How to overcome your fear of starting an online business

Afraid or launching an online business?

I struggled with the same fears for years… until I discovered the psychological breakthroughs and systems that make it easy and fun to get started.

We’ll deep dive into the 3 major FEARS around starting an online business, so you’ll know how to ignore the critics, focus on doing your very best, and be confident enough to laugh at your own failures — and become successful faster.

Real success stories from TINY online businesses

I’ll show you how you can grow an online business with a tiny email list — or even without a website at all.

You don’t have to have a huge email list or wait until you have 100,000 followers. You can actually start NOW. Once you find the right people, you can build a successful online business with fewer people than you’d ever thought possible.

My students will show you how they launched their online businesses and scaled them up — one student even got 5-figures in just a few months, without any email list.

How top performers balance profitable businesses with free time

We all have the same number of hours in the day, but some people – top performers – seem to get 10x the amount of work done as the rest of us. In these case studies and interviews, you’ll understand how.

Time management: How an MIT postdoc writes 3 books, a PhD defense, and 6+ peer-reviewed papers — and finishes by 5:30pm

Cal is totally dominating his post-doc while maintaining a successful blog. His trick: ruthlessly optimizing his schedule and saying “No” a lot.

The Tripod of Stability

Tim Ferriss of the Four Hour Work Week asks me about false starts and success rates.

Knowing vs. doing: A tale of 2 friends who try to start their own business

Erica sold her company for over $1 million at age 26. When she talks, I listen.

Meet my mentor, Jay Abraham

I want to introduce you to one of my most influential mentor, whose insights have changed my life. If you’ve ever wondered who I study and learn from, here’s your answer.

8 Quick Ways To Make Money From Home

Anyone who has ever googled “work from home” or “make money from home” knows that the web is overflowing with sites proclaiming you can make thousands from the comfort of your living room, most of the time requiring you to first buy a book, CD, or DVD to learn how.  Since there is so much of this garbage out there, it can be frustrating looking for legitimate ways to work from home.  Below are some reasonable ideas to consider.

None of these will make you rich, but they’re good options for putting some extra cash in your wallet.

  • Direct Sales Home Businesses – Host “parties” at your home to get discounts and a little cash, or become an independent sales rep yourself to make even more money.  Many of them offer online shops that you can set up under your name.  Some of the most popular ones are:   Avon, Mary Kay, Tupperware, Thirty-One Gifts, or Pampered Chef; there are also numerous companies selling candles, jewelry, children’s books, children’s clothes, etc.)
  • Have an eBay “Garage Sale” – Scour your house from top to bottom for unused items.  Open up a shop on eBay (it’s free), take pictures of your items and let the bidding begin.  You will also get the added benefit of de-cluttering your house!
  • Tutor (In-home or Online) – There is always a need for tutors at any grade level.  You can do this out of your home, or find one of the many opportunities to do it online.
  • Online Surveys – There are tons of sites online that pay you to fill out surveys so they can obtain market data, just make sure the site is free!
  • Dog Walking/Pet Sitting – Dog owners always need someone to walk their dog on a busy work day or pet sit overnight when away on vacation or business.  Research the local pet care companies in your area to review the services they offer.  You may even start off by working for one of them as you get your feet wet.
  • Babysit Kids in Your Home – Many parents are looking for lower cost alternatives to daycare; consider sitting a couple of kids in your home!  If you have your own kids at home, there is the added benefit of playtime and socialization with your kids.
  • Freelance Writing – If you have a flair for writing, there many freelance writer opportunities available such as writing technical or marketing pieces; or articles for journals, newspapers, or magazines.  You can also get paid to write blog articles for various websites like the Yahoo Contributor network, for example.
  • Start a Home Business– Stick with your talents or what you love to do.  Consider these:

Photography; start a small photography business

Crafts; start a shop on Etsy selling your handmade products

Sewing; be a seamstress or sell your  handmade clothing items on Etsy

Scrapbooking; start a business creating scrapbooks for us less-creative folks!

Baking; start a small cake baking business

Party planning; start small with birthday parties, etc. and maybe eventually expand into larger events like weddings!

Music; based on your talent (piano, voice, guitar, etc.), offer music lessons out of your home

There are some legitimate home-based jobs that you can find online, such as being a Virtual assistant or a Customer Service Rep.  Just be sure not to sign up for anything that requires any kind of upfront fee.  RatRaceRebellion.com and FlexJobs.com are also fantastic places to start the search for work from home gigs.

How To Become A Successful Freelancer (And Quit Your Desk Job In 30 Days)

So you’re reading this because you want to become a freelancer. You’ve thought about what you want to freelance in, you’ve got a couple of useful email addresses and you’ve even bought yourself some sweatpants that will look great with your slippers.

So you’re ready to dump that job and get cracking on your first assignment, right?

Wrong.

One of the biggest misconceptions about freelancing is that you sit at home and work comes to you. When the reality is you have to fight for it, and fight hard.

As our friend Leif Kendall aptly put it:

“First: you must strive. Nothing good is ever easy.”

I hate to break it to you, but working freelance means working. And I mean really working. Unlike your 9-5 cubicle, there is nothing cushy about freelancing, nothing stable about it until YOU have made it that way.

But there are some simple secrets to becoming a successful freelancer which I am going to share with you in this blog post. In fact, using these steps – and a bit of determination – I’ve seen people get out of their desk jobs and start working comfortably for themselves in 30 days.

If they can do it, so can you. As Leif told it:

“Your first few days, weeks and months are probably going to be challenging, and likely to take everything you’ve got.”

So what did I do when I first went freelance?

Let’s be clear here, because what I did – what made me successful – was done BEFORE I went freelance, not after. Granted, my path to the flexible profession was abnormal. Having decided in college that “normal jobs” weren’t my thing, I used time in between studying and a karaoke bar job to set myself up. But when you read how I made the transition, you’ll realise that if you have any experience in your field at all, you’ve got it easier than I did. Just always remember that becoming a successful freelancer doesn’t begin the day you quit your job, but the day you decide it’s the lifestyle for you.

In between deciding to become a freelancer and becoming a freelancer, you need to prepare to be a freelancer.

So how did I do that?

1. I Contacted Everyone I Have Ever Known

Literally. Everyone.

The very first thing I did when deciding to make the switch was to get in touch with every single person I have ever known and told them my decision. I told them the field I was going to be working in and as it became clear, even the date I was planning to leave my awful day job (in 30 days time).

I also told them that I would be more than happy to take on projects straight away.

If I was still studying, and working a job, why did I say I could take on projects? Wasn’t I a bit busy already, studying/working 14+ hours a day and organising myself to go freelance or to take on projects in my free time’?

The reason I told my friends and friends of friends, colleagues and ex-colleagues that I was willing to take on projects straight away was for three reasons:

  • Experience
  • Contacts
  • References

And the earlier you send this email the better. Do it 30 days before you want to go freelance, or do it six months before. But the point is, don’t leave people hanging.

Not only do you want to make your announcement actionable, but clients take time to develop. Don’t put yourself in a position to do the work “in a month”, when the discussion you need to start may take that much time anyway!

The more experience, contacts and references you have when you go freelance, the easier making that final break from your job will be.

And when people asked me to do a job for them that they couldn’t pay me for I would again consider:

  • Experience
  • Contacts
  • References

If I was going to get just one of these things out of the arrangement then there was no way I was turning down that work, money or no money. If in doubt, remember the wise words of freelance expert Jon Norris,

“Building a network and finding work are two sides of the same coin.”

Here I just want to include a note for those of you who have already started freelancing, as for you guys too I cannot emphasize the importance of this step enough. It’s never too late to start reaching out to people and expanding your network. If you have work to show for your efforts already, your outreach will go much further, a reason why this step should be repeated annually even once you are a successful freelancer! Keep yourself fresh in people’s minds and be their go-to person when they need a professional in your field.

So after I’d contacted my entire network, what did I do next?

2. I Got To Work On My Personal Brand

So what does my personal brand have to do with anything? I’m an experienced [insert profession here], not a social networker – why can’t I just make an ad and put it online/buy a spot in the newspaper/stick it to a tree/leave under windshield-wipers in the parking lot?

The reason is that as a freelancer, YOU ARE YOUR BRAND.

So help me god [or deity of choice], this is a truth among truths, irrespective of whether you’re a web developer, a user experience designer, a writer or a marketer.

What do I mean when I say you are your brand?

I mean that when you are selling your services, you are actually selling yourself. So how you come across online or off is reflective of your success, your ability, and your professionalism. Your personality counts. Big time. If people don’t like you, they won’t buy what you’re selling.

So, how did I build my personal brand?

  1. I got myself on LinkedIn and I fully filled out my profile. Every single detail of my experience. Every relevant job I ever had. Every morsel about me that could be interesting.
  2. I then did the same thing on Facebook. I joined relevant groups for my field and started asking questions, lots of questions, as well as answering any I could.
  3. I did the same on Twitter
  4. And on Google+
  5. And on Meetup
  6. And when it was made available I did the same with Quora, which has become the fact-filled platform for experts.
  7. I then went to every industry-relevant event I could find, afford and get to, and hustled like a maniac…

If you’re someone who still believes social media is the devil, you’re in trouble, because it’s never a single tactic that will get you anywhere, its a combination of many intelligently coordinated pieces.

Asking and answering questions is the easiest way to get people involved and invested in what you do, and while you could meet 15 people during a night out, you could meet 100 online. And perhaps yes, the contact is “shallower” but you can be a hell of lot more targeted. So I recommend starting online, understanding who’s important for you, pre-empting offline events by connecting with people via Twitter, and leveraging LinkedIn connections into meetings for coffee.

If you combine a strong digital brand with meeting people in person, you’ll make yourself:

  • Easy to find
  • Easy to remember
  • Good to know

You want to be understood as an expert and an influencer in your field, and in a world where most industry communication is digital, you better be all over it!

Just remember not to get discouraged if you don’t get 1000 Twitter followers instantly, because what’s important here is that quality wins over quantity every time. Stay focused, stay targeted and talk to every new connection like they’re your best friend.

And vice versa, if you’re awkward and depend entirely on social media to drive your network, you’re doing it wrong. You have to get out, you have to meet people and confirm that you’re real and worth investing in. As Jon Norris explained:

“Although it can be awkward attending networking events, it’s a great way to build contacts. Get out there, hand out business cards and make friends.”

3. I Wrote A Plan Of Action

I want you to pay very close attention to the next statement.

Never, ever, undervalue time taken to plan. Never.

For each of those 30 days before I quit my job I had a goal. Sometimes that goal was to email a relevant contact in my field asking for advice. Sometimes that goal was to expand my network by X number of people, answer a certain number of questions, or attend a meetup.

And sometimes it was simply to plan out the next steps.

For each of those 30 days I wrote down my trials and tribulations into a short (often emotional) blog post, charting my ups and downs in that final month before taking the leap.

I also carefully drafted and redrafted a personal business plan , including my financial requirements, goals, and how I thought that would actually translate into work. I realized that if I landed the equivalent of 2 short projects a month, I could survive. Well barely, but it’s good to know where your survival limit is, because when push comes to shove, it’s accomplish that goal or be stuck eating dry toast for a month.

Unless you’re one of these eternally adventurous types, freelancing is no fun as a hand-to-mouth game. Nobody chooses this path with the goal of living on a financial knife edge. And by the way, it’s ok to be scared, in fact if you’re not, you’re either invincible or a dumb ass, so keep your eyes open, know your limits, and plan accordingly.

I also used this as another excuse to grow my network, reaching out to experts in my industry to ask for advice:

  • How much should I charge?
  • Where do I best find my clients?
  • How difficult is it to close a deal?
  • Should I template my pitches or create new ones every time?

This created an opportunity to learn, improve and perfect the skills I would need in a month while growing a power-network of professionals in the field. Two birds in one stone at its finest!

4. I Did My Research – And Paid Attention To Competition

Whether it was hours scanning social media, reading blog posts like this one, offering my services to friends, or just generally building a network however I could, I absorbed as much information as possible.

Sure, it’s overwhelming; anyone who has spent a 4 hour stint on a single topic online knows that the rabbit hole is deep, and easy to get sucked into. At the end of the day, you have to pick and choose what’s important for you, but what I found most helpful was taking a real good look at what my competition were doing. And there is always competition.

Looking closely at what others were doing, I found out 3 things that helped me a lot:

  1. I had local competition, and I mean local. As in down the street from me. But even if they had been doing it for a while, they didn’t seem to be effectively marketing themselves, it took effort to find them.
  2. People who were looking for someone of my expertise had no central data bank to find me, or other freelancers like me. I had to be in the right place at the right time.
  3. I could easily differentiate myself from my competition by having an attractive personality, and a digital presence.

Leif Kendall likes to tell people to

“Deliver work that is better than anything your competitors are doing”

and truthfully, I couldn’t agree more. Maybe you have a lot of experience, and maybe you don’t, but your job is to perform better than everyone else in your field, both in the work you do, and the way you act.

But how did I know what my competition were actually doing?

Remember that old adage “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”? This is one way of looking at it, but in a world of freelancing where your network is everything, you can’t afford to have enemies at all. So try this instead:

“Keep your friends close, and make friends with your enemies.”

Don’t be guarded, don’t be defensive. Share, trade, and exchange what you can from your own knowledge and then keep doing it better, and better, and better, and better, and better, and better.

In the end, you’ll find that some people have big egos, but a lot of people are happy to have a friend. Freelancing can be a bit lonely sometimes as by its definition you often lack those daily colleagues who understand the work you do. A lot of people out there are just like you, and happy to have someone they can relate to about work, and even share a bit of knowledge and experience.

5. I Got Myself A Mentor and Landed A Real Client

The best piece of advice I ever received was simple in theory and tough in practice:

“Don’t burn any bridges.”

If you’re a freelancer, this quote should be read in all capslock and underlined, because you can’t afford to. Every contact counts , and on behalf of your reputation and livelihood, although it’s very tempting to give your boss the finger as you storm out the door, it’s not something you can afford to do, ever.

No one likes “kissing ass” and I don’t really recommend it, but now that you’re leaving you need your employer more than ever before, because face it: your current employer is your strongest link to your first job as a freelancer. If your job is at all related to what you plan to do, they may themselves be your first client.

In my case, the karaoke bar owner would eventually make it very clear that he “didn’t give a flying f&%$” what I was doing beyond his bar. But I needed something, so I went and found myself a mentor. Aka, I willingly became a slave to an influencer in my industry. It was the smartest decision I ever made because despite totally over-working myself, I sure enough gained Experience, made Contacts, and walked away with one hell of a Reference.

Oh, and yes, I did this on top of the study, the job, and the prep. If you want something, don’t half ass it.

So how did I manage to get myself a mentor?

Well if you have a boss who knows anything, that’s the best place to start. But if you’ve read this article then you can probably guess how I did it: I networked like a maniac, showed my plan of action, and proved I knew how to work like the competition.

In the end, I convinced my would-be mentor that I was worth that little bit of time and effort, and sure enough Richard Levy passed me my first client after only a couple weeks. And Bam! I was officially a freelancer, on schedule and making money.

Whether it’s a boss, mentor, professor, uncle, slave driver, or homeless dude with good advice, the people you see daily are most likely to have the biggest impact on your transition. So be accommodating, be thankful and be willing to work your ass off for an opportunity to do what you love.

As Rik Lomas wrote in his blog post about freelancing on Medium:

“Do not piss people off. Remember that you’re a professional and are soon to be leader of your own company. Act like it.”

So finally….

So what’s my last piece of advice? What’s that final nugget of understanding you need to open the doors to your new career, new lifestyle, and impending financial freedom?

The simple answer is that there isn’t one. There is no one solution, there is no one path. Your puzzle is your own! And understanding how the pieces fit together is what will guarantee your success.

If you’re hunting for that single piece of magical advice that will get you out of your job and thousands of clients a year, let me tell you, it doesn’t exist. Like in life, relationships, and all other forms of comedy, it’s your ability to understand the big picture and refine each detail to pixel-perfect clarity that makes you who you are and good at what you do.

So my advice is don’t forget that, don’t get hung up on singularity in a world full of complication, because what will make you successful is knowing how to apply who you are to what you want to do to the best of your ability.

As for the rest of what you need to know? Start by reading this article! People will say you’re crazy to set out on this path of uncertainty, which if you’re like me is just confirmation that you should be doing it! Freelancing is something you really have to want, and be prepared to work hard for. And the result of that is a lifestyle, and a sense of freedom that is unrivalled by any other job in the world.

So prep it, work it, and then LIVE IT for all your worth!