Freelance In 40 Days [Day 4]: Create Your Business Plan

Posted: August 27th, 2009

Photo by Gurdonark (Flickr)

Photo by Gurdonark (Flickr)

This is Day 4 of the Freelance in 40 Days series where you’ll learn to freelance just by taking it one day and one task at a time. Today’s tutorial will take you through setting goals for your freelance business and forming them into a personal business plan.

Alright, Time For The Business Plan!

You’ve probably noticed so far that we aren’t getting into the meat and potatoes of freelancing just yet. You know, learning how to find freelance work then getting your ass out there and finding it. Don’t worry though. We’ll get to that soon enough. The goal early on is to define your purpose and goals and document them to do two things:

  1. Mentally prepare yourself for the challenge that lies ahead of you.
  2. Create something concrete to look back on to sustain that focus while starting out.

Yesterday in Day 3, you created a USP which is your purpose as a freelancer. So today we’ll define your goals and put them together as a business plan.

If I didn’t scare you off already, we are not going to cover how to create a 100 page, professionally written and printed, with hundreds of neat little charts type of novel. This will be one be your own personal  document which you can refer back to chart the progress of your freelance business.

While not essential for freelancing, it helps immensely to know right from the beginning where you want to be down the road. Plus, it helps to check back periodically to see if you are on your way there.

The Personal Business Plan

Since we are essentially compiling and organizing your goals as a freelancer, creating your own personal business plan isn’t as hard as it sounds. All it takes is setting aside some time to really think hard about how you want your freelance business to be. This can be broken down into four parts:

  • Business Goals: What do you envision for your freelance business? How about growing a certain percentage every three months or designing and developing 15 websites in the next year? Better yet, close your eyes and describe exactly what you see yourself doing as a freelancer a year from now.
  • Business Values: Some examples of business values are honesty and integrity, along with delivering the highest quality work possible and providing unmatched service to your clients. What are values that you will have that will allow you to grow and prosper in your freelance business?
  • Income Goals: What is your ideal income for the year as a freelancer? Don’t get carried away here, but don’t sell yourself short either.
  • Expenses: It is very important, as well, to have expense goals as a freelancer. After all, you don’t want to spend more than you earn. What is your budget for business expenditures or, if your planning on full-time freelancing, what will you budget for expenses each month?

Now don’t get me wrong about this business plan. This is not a do or die mission nor set in concrete. We are simply writing down your goals, expectations and values to use as a starting point so we have something to aim for. You may or may not even reach the goals you set. If you don’t happen to reach them, it doesn’t mean you suck and its the time to call it quits.

Sometimes you will have set a target too high to reach. Say that your target income will not quite reach the number you predicted. All that is needed is simply to adjust your goals to be more achievable. The key to goals is to make them a challenge but within reach and make adjustments when needed so they do not appear unattainable.

Your Homework For Today

Create a business plan outlined above. Write it in pen and paper or use Word and print it out so you have easy access to it later. Don’t skip this task, either (I’m watching). Your commitment to freelancing will reflect in what is contained in this document.

Also, don’t just let it sit there collecting coffee stains and ashes. Take a look at it once in while. Make adjustments and print it out again, if necessary.

More on the author, Johnny Spence
Johnny is the founder of The Freelance Rant and a freelance web programmer with 8 years in the business. Have a visit at his company Oscarrr!web or see what he's up to on Twitter.

3 Comments. Join In!

  • gurdonark

    September 10th, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Thanks for using my image in this post. A business plan is such a key thing to a start-up business. The business plan we drew up for our little law firm 9 years ago helped define everything we did in putting the firm into action.

  • Ashleigh

    December 9th, 2009 at 5:52 am

    I’ve got you bookmarked! Great series… I can be pretty disorganized, and while I’ve got most of this down pat, I’ve definitely found a few things I’ve been missing (or just putting off!)

  • Johnny

    December 13th, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks Ashleigh! I’m glad you find the tutorial useful.