21 Questions to Answer Before Creating Your 2015 Business Plan

6 figure business

2015 business plan

21 Questions to Answer Before Creating Your 2015 Business Plan

 

I want to share a series of questions with you that I share with each of my clients. These questions form the foundation of what I call the “One-Page Business Plan.” As you saw before, creative entrepreneurs tend to struggle with linear plans that include too many details. Yet, you still need to have a plan in place. A simple business plan serves as your road map for the year ahead. You don’t need to know all the steps right now, but you do need to know your destination and what you are working toward.

What happens to creative entrepreneurs who don’t have a plan in place? They often feel lost, overwhelmed, or stuck in their business. They lack clarity, which means they lack consistency. They end up chasing ideas, trying every new marketing tactic that comes along, or simply avoiding marketing all together, hoping that clients will show up.

The solution for creative entrepreneurs is to create a business plan that captures both the basics and the essence of their business in a meaningful and visual format. Creating a visual, one-page business plan should feel fun, exciting, and motivating. My clients tell me that going through this process with me leaves them feeling clearer about their business than ever before. They feel excited to get into action, and the feelings of chaos and of being overwhelmed disappear.

Remember that creative entrepreneurs don’t think like other people, and that’s a good thing. We tend to think in circles and see connections where others don’t. Most of us became entrepreneurs because we want the freedom and flexibility to do the work we love, when we want to. We rarely have a clear separation between our lifestyle and our business. Creative entrepreneurs tend to take a holistic approach to business success.

Here are the initial questions that I ask my clients as we begin the process of designing a six-figure business that is a match for all of who they are and that supports the many roles they play: business owner, spouse/partner, parent, community volunteer, adventure seeker, athlete, yogi … you get the picture!

In a journal or a document on your computer, answer the following questions:

You:

  • What do you love doing more than anything else?
  • What are your core values? Take the assessment in the companion workbook to discover your Top 10 core values.
  • What does an ideal day in your business/life look like?
  • What do you do in your free time?
  • What is your big WHY? (This is what keeps you working every day.)
  • Why YOU? What is your unique brilliance? What are you best at?
  • Who else is doing what you do? What do you love/admire about their work? How are you unique?

Your Clients:

  • Who is your IDEAL client, and are there enough of them in the world to create a thriving busi­ness?
  • What PROBLEMS do you solve for this client?
  • Why are you the BEST person to solve these problems?
  • What services/products do you offer to solve these problems?

Your Money:

  • What is your BOLD money goal for the next two months, six months, twelve months?
  • What is your desired MONTHLY income?
  • How many SALES do you need to make to reach that income?
  • How many PEOPLE do you need to talk to in order to get those sales?
  • What is your COST of doing business?

Your Team:

  • Who is on your support team?
  • Friends/Family/Spouse
  • Mentor/Coach
  • Hired Team (Finances and Accounting, Web/IT, Art/Media, Management, Admin, etc.)
  • Strategic Partners (other business owners who target the same specific audience that you do)

Now that you have the answers to these questions, let’s get creative! What happens with most business plans is that they end up in a binder collecting dust on the shelf, stuffed in a file folder in a drawer, or lost in the computer. I recommend creating a colorful and visual version of your business plan that you can proudly display in your office.

For more ideas on how to do this, listen to the replay of my free webinar on how to create a one-page visual business plan. Click here to get more details: https://minetteriordan.com/jumpstart-2015/

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31 Comments

  1. Linda Bibb on January 1, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Of all the business plan advice I’ve seen, your final line is probably the finest. By creating a colorful visual and keeping it within view, it will be far easier to keep goals and plans in focus through the year. Duh. Sounds obvious, but I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks.

    • minette on January 2, 2015 at 8:50 am

      Linda, thanks for the positive feedback. As a creative person, creating linear boring plans just didn’t work for me or my clients, I needed to create something that I would actually pay attention to. Would love to see your visual plan once you create it!

  2. Patricia on January 1, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    I have never actually put a business plan in place in the past but it’s something I will definitely think about doing for this year! Thanks for the tips on how to do this!

    • minette on January 2, 2015 at 8:49 am

      Hi Patricia, having a plan is like having a road map. When we have a destination in mind, we can work our way towards it. When I have failed to create a plan or guide for myself, I often felt like I was wandering in the wilderness. The plan doesn’t have to be extensive or overly detailed but it will help you move forward 🙂

  3. Francene Stanley on January 2, 2015 at 2:22 am

    I like the question ‘How are you unique?. Each one of us has so many different strengths and weaknesses. I might not need a business plan, but I do need to concentrate on my uniqueness for my blog.

    • minette on January 2, 2015 at 8:47 am

      Hi Francene, many of these questions are applicable to building traffic to your blog but I agree that How are you unique is a fun one and often a very challenging one for people to answer! The other important one to know the answer to is, who are you blogging for??

  4. Kristen from The Road to Domestication on January 2, 2015 at 5:09 am

    Great things to ask yourself! Some of these can be applied to making a basic life plan, too!

    • minette on January 2, 2015 at 8:46 am

      Absolutely, Kristen. The truth is for entrepreneurs that there is no separation between life and business – we need a plan that incorporates all of of who we are and what we want to accomplish.

  5. Tami on January 2, 2015 at 7:14 am

    I have already started experimenting in what I can do to be at home with my son. This list of questions has ideas popping in my head as I skim through them. I am going to print this out and do some brainstorming.

    • minette on January 2, 2015 at 8:43 am

      I have almost always worked from home or had my own office since my kids were born. Being present and flexible for them has been one of my highest priorities! It’s absolutely possible to build a business from home. If you have any questions or would like to have a quick brainstorming session, let me know, I’d love to chat more with you.

  6. Elisabeth on January 2, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Great post! I am definitely in flux for my 2015 planning right now, so I am hoping that working through these will help me to focus a bit more.

    • minette on January 2, 2015 at 8:42 am

      Hi Elisabeth, this is a perfect time of year to start planning! Start with your end goals in mind and work backwards from there, sometimes that can give us more perspective on what steps we need to take!

  7. Laurel Regan on January 2, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Those are very thought-provoking questions, and I can see how going through the process of answering them would give one a framework for creating a business plan. Thank you for sharing!

    • minette on January 2, 2015 at 9:27 am

      Hi Laurel, thanks for the positive feedback.

  8. Carrie Ann Tripp (@CarrieAnnTripp) on January 2, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Minette,

    I am doing Jon Acuff’s 10 Day Do Over Challenge this month, and one of our day 2 Bonus Challenges was: Pretend you’re a company and create a board of advisors. Write down the names of anyone you would want on it.

    I don’t have a lot of friends. Hundreds of acquaintances, but no one that I do things with. So, I thought. Who do you go to with decisions other than God and your husband? I put both of them on the list immediately.

    Initially my thought was that’s all. I was a little surprised when I realized that wasn’t true. I frequently include my two teenage children in on those decisions. That may seem odd to some, but I also included their names.

    • minette on January 2, 2015 at 10:48 am

      Carrie, thanks for your honesty! I don’t think it’s strange at all to include your teens. I often do that same, my kids are smart and engaged and love being included. Curious if connecting with more people is on your list for this year? I find that hardest part of being an entrepreneur and working from home is the isolation. Connecting via phone or in person keeps me personally motivated to keep going.

  9. Dorit Sasson on January 2, 2015 at 9:55 am

    I agree with Laurel – They are very thought-provoking questions. Aristotle was right when he said, “know thyself” and it couldn’t be ever more true in such a wired digitally driven age.

    • minette on January 2, 2015 at 10:47 am

      So true, Dorit, I love that quote by Aristotle, too. I think it’s a little known secret of business success that we have to know ourselves first.

  10. Snarky Momma on January 2, 2015 at 10:39 am

    This a thought provoking post. Because I am not currently in business I will try to put them to other uses. Thank you. I enjoyed reading it.

    • minette on January 2, 2015 at 10:46 am

      Great, I hope they help you with your blogging and planning for your personal life this year. Choose what works best for you and have fun with it!

  11. Alana on January 2, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    I’ve never been one to plan – I’ve always been a seat of my pants person. But, this year, for the first time, I’ve chosen a word for the year – DIFFERENT. What would be more different for me than to make a plan, for a change? The YOU questions are something I should think about.

    • minette on January 2, 2015 at 4:23 pm

      What a great word Alana! Look forward to seeing what you create this year.

  12. Tamala on January 2, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    These are wonderful wonderful questions to help a person get CLARITY before moving forward. It’s a great tool though like the commenter ahead of me, I am definitely more of a leap and make plans while jumping.. HA

    • minette on January 2, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      Clarity is what matters most, once you have that, then your leaping will be intentional even if you don’t have a detailed plan in place. The steps will show themselves as you go 🙂 Good luck, Tamala.

  13. Amy Bovaird on January 2, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    Minette,
    It looks like a great plan!
    I am working on building my platform and writing 2 smaller books and one longer one. I’m trying to create a marketing plan that works for me.
    Glad to be back in touch with you!
    Amy

    • minette on January 3, 2015 at 7:12 am

      Amy, so glad to see you here and be back in touch with you as well. Sounds like a wonderfully full year. Let me know if I can help you with your marketing plan! Happy New Year.

  14. K. Lee Banks on January 2, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    This is a great list of questions – I have to bookmark your blog so I can revisit and think about the questions and answers. Funny, because I just wrote FAQs for my two businesses based on a blog challenge writing prompt.

    I took a free business course a few years ago that was sponsored by a women’s business organization here in Maine. The end result was at least a tentative business plan, but I know I need to review and revise it!

    • minette on January 3, 2015 at 8:34 am

      That’s a great idea to write FAQs for your business, I love it! Even a tentative plan will get you moving in the right direction. Glad you liked the list of questions!

  15. Karen on January 6, 2015 at 7:44 am

    Wow, I had to create a very formal, left brained business plan that had all of these elements in it for my business loan over two years ago. It was a very difficult process lots of thinking and figuring and spreadsheets, predictions etc. I have been wanting to update my plan for a while now and found your blog….what a gift! I own/operate a craft/art store and this type of balanced marketing business plan makes much more sense to me. I have already started to re-work some of my original points into this style of planning, so much easier to think about and to visualize! Thank you for making this accessible to all.

    Ps I am also a fellow CZT so you can bet I will be tangling it up a bit. 🙂

    • minette on January 6, 2015 at 8:26 am

      Hi Karen, what a great testimonial! So glad you found this information useful. I just looked at your Facebook page and wish your store were closer, looks amazing. Congrats on your new building and big move!

      • Karen on January 6, 2015 at 8:11 am

        Thanks!

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