If you’re just starting out as a freelance trainer, you might be wrestling with whether or not to write a business plan. Are they effective or even really necessary?
There are definite pros and cons to having a business plan. Many business experts argue that every business should have one because it acts as a roadmap to help you keep moving forward, while other experts feel that a business plan can sidetrack you from actually getting started.
Certainly, many freelance trainers spend hours crafting extensive business plans, only to find that they don’t translate into reality. As a result, the plan languishes – forgotten and unloved – on a computer hard drive somewhere, never to see the light of day again.
To overcome this problem, there’s a growing trend towards one-page business plans that are written and/or updated annually (at least).
The one-page business plan approach has many benefits – it:
- Encourages you to be concise and focused when planning your goals
- Highlights top-level information about your business that you can post on your office wall and review easily at any time
- Is easy to update
- Provides a helpful tool for generating interest from potential partners, suppliers or investors
- Acts as the company vision
- Highlights your goals
Above all, a one-page business plan that can be easily adapted is more flexible and more open to experimentation and feedback than a 50-page business plan packed full of graphs and financial forecasts.
So, what should your one-page business plan include?
The one-page business plan for start-up freelance trainers
If you’re in the early stages of setting up as a freelance trainer, your one-page business plan may be based on some best guesses and experimentation. That’s OK – everyone has to start somewhere. You can always update your plan in the future.
There are 13 main areas that you may want to think about – aim for a heading and a few bullet points or sentences for each section:
1. Your elevator pitch
Although you will probably want this at the top of your one-page business plan, it’s likely to be the last thing you write.
Your elevator pitch should be a concise but compelling sentence that tells the reader about the problem, your audience, your solution and what sets you apart from your competitors.
2. Your clients’ problem(s)/desire(s)
Will your training business solve a problem for your clients or satisfy a desire?
For example, will you provide training that gives staff knowledge that is essential to their job or will you focus on helping companies transition through a period of high growth or into a new industry?
3. The solution
How will you solve your clients’ problems or desires? What makes your solution valuable to your target audience?
4. The audience
Who are you most important clients or client groups? What are their defining qualities? How can you recognise them? At this stage, you might want to think about how you most want to work with based on past experiences or people within your network.
5. Marketing channels
Now you know who you want to reach, you need to identify how you plan to reach them. Where do your clients spend time, on and offline? How will you find them? How do they want you to communicate with them? Do they prefer a specific form of communication or social media channel? Where do you plan to focus your marketing initially?
What makes you different from your competitors? What is different or unique about the solution you offer?
Identify what you plan to sell – this might include your pricing model, such as offering fixed price training packages or using a daily/hourly rate – and how much you plan to charge.
Think about what costs you will face in order to run your business. How much will you need to spend on things like a virtual assistant, accountant, CRM software, website hosting, marketing, advertising, and so on?
Think about what resources, systems and activities would support your business. What do you need outside of yourself to keep your business running?
Can you identify any advantages you have over your competitors? For example, is there someone in your network who could provide referrals? Do you have specific experience within your industry that other trainers may not share? Do you have qualifications that set you apart?
Think about how you plan to measure the progress of your business. Will you look at sales revenue, the number of bookings, hours worked, website traffic, social media metrics, or a combination of all of these?
It’s helpful to think about who you are and how you want to portray your personal brand. Will you be happy working with this client group? Do you feel excited by your business model? Will you be able to live a balanced lifestyle?
13. Your goals
Your one-page business plan is also a great place to list your goals. What do you want to achieve over the next month, quarter, year or five years? By writing your goals down, it’s easier to keep an eye on working towards them.
Review, revise and repeat
Once your business is more established, you can approach the same topics/headings armed with more concrete data to update your one-page plan on a regular basis.
It can be a positive habit to write a new one-page business plan at the start of every year. Entrepreneurship and Personal Development expert, Patrick Bet-David, recommends that you give each annual business plan an inspirational heading, such as “2021: The Year of Launching My Business to the World” or “2022: The Year of Creating Evergreen Webinars” as it will remind you of your guiding principle for the year.