Do You Need A Business Plan For Your Internet Business?
Last modified on 2nd March, 2008
If you are reading this, chances are you are probably trying to make money online or are already generating some good money from the Internet.
Whether you are a full/part time blogger, an Internet marketer of some sort or someone who are just getting his or her feet wet in the world of netpreneurship, there’s a benefit to be had by having a business plan that guide you along the way.
Talking about business plans, the recent silence period in this blog has to do with me trying to catch up with my own business plan schedule. The recent Internet outage has threw me slightly off the track and time needs to be spent to catch up.
Being self-employed with no boss looking over my shoulder gives me the flexibility to do as I wish as long as it keeps me focused on my main objectives. While the unfortunate blogging is not one of the priorities, it doesn’t mean this blog is destined for neglect. It’ll be updated as soon as I have the time and truly useful subject to write about.
So back to the question posed by the title of this post, do you really need a business plan for your Internet business?
You have no investors that need convincing, no lenders to fund your business, and no corporate objectives to define. All you have is your trusty computer, your Internet connection and yourself. I’d imagine most of Sabahan.com’s readers fall into this category.
Some don’t even do this full time so why wasting time writing about a business plan that nobody reads?
There’s a logic behind that reasoning. For instant I believe some full time bloggers become successful by “following the flow” such as LiewCF.com and PaulTan.org and not by having a business plan – correct me if I am wrong guys. As long as you consistently write about topics that attract the masses you are bound to attract the search engines spiders (when combined with a good SEO practice of course) and at the same time keep your readers interested.
On the other hand, not everyone falls into that category especially if you are not a full time blogger. In most cases having a business plan improves your chances of succeeding as an netpreneur.
If you are serious about doing business on the Internet, you need to treat what you do now as a business. Having a business plan is one way to do so. As I’ve said before, the real reason for creating a business plan is not having the finished results, rather the act of planning helps you analyze things more thoroughly by looking at your ideas critically.
Having a business plan help keeps you on track for success. Other benefits include the ability to determine whether your products have sufficient market demand, provide an estimate of costs needed to run your business, identify your target market, reevaluate your competition and how you could stay ahead and so on.
During the early days of my software development business, I laid our a plan for the year ahead where I broken down the activities on how my software projects should be ran. There’s nothing scientific about it, I just wrote down the timeline for each software development and marketing cycle. At the end of that year my Internet income more than tripled than that of the previous year.
Then, I stopped writing any business plan the year after. This non-action consequently resulted in the stagnation of my Internet business income, except the occasionally spikes or plunges which do happen when you leave things to chance.
How much details you want to put into your business plan will depend on what you want to achieve. More importantly you need to have a clear idea where you want to be in a year, or in three or five years time.
I personally prefer planning an annual business plan, any longer would increase the chance for me to veer off course as I would probably discover new trends or new ways to make money online as I progress along which could be a departure from the initial plans.
In addition, you’ll have to keep in mind whose your intended audience is. If you have investors to entertain, or intent to use your business plan to apply for a bank loan, you could delve right into the formality by including the description of your business, strategy, SWOT analysis, competitive analysis, marketing strategy, expected ROI, feasibility studies and the whole enchilada.
Writing a formal business plan is a big topic in itself, and it’s beyond the scope of this article. Google will be able to help you better if you want to learn more about it.
On the other hand, if you are the only person who read it then draw up a plan that’s right up your alley. You’ll need to focus on ways to get you ideas into the marketplace and start making money right away. So you can do without much of the formality and focus on how to obtain the results.
I personally draw up a business plan that focuses more on the actions part. Rather than trying to stick with the specific format of a typical business plan, I create a project timeline. I can afford to do that because I don’t have anyone to convince but myself.
Now I don’t pretend I have the best plan in the world, as long as it works and help me achieve my own personal goals such as make more money then I’ll go for it. The most important thing is to draw a plan that you will be able to follow and execute.
The level of detail is not as important as the ability for me to organize my time and resources.
The following is a sample of my own personal business plan. As you may notice, it’s nothing more than a rough project timeline. I find it’s more beneficial to do so as it keeps me focus on the actions rather than the theories. You don’t have to follow my way, just draw the type of business plan that you are comfortable with. Sorry I have to erase some details for obvious reasons.
Click on the image to view a larger version.
Running simultaneously, I plan to create a new landing page every two weeks. This would include keyword research for Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsoft AdCenter.
There are other plans not included which is mostly handled by my assistant. I am not telling you this to brag about my business plans or whatever ;). By all means, I could’ve spent more time crafting them to make them better in so many ways but that’s besides my point.
I hope this article will give you some ideas on how you could draw your own business plan, while at the same time telling others about it will remind me to keep moving if I fall behind.
If you haven’t written your business plan yet, spend sometime thinking about it and start writing today. Who knows where it’ll bring you one year, three years or five years from today.