You might be thinking no, because you’re a one-person company. Then again, read any book about starting a business, and they’ll all say you need a business plan.
A business plan can play a crucial part in the success of entrepreneurs and small-business owners… even freelancers.
When done right, your business plan will become the foundation of your business. Your guiding document to how you’re going to run your copywriting company — how you’re going to manage your time, the products and services you’ll offer, and how you’ll land clients. In other words, how you’ll make money.
Remember, you’re in business to make a profit.
Now, you may think a business plan is needed only if you’re trying to get a business loan or court investments. But really, the best time to create a business plan is initially. And, if you’ve already launched your business, the second-best time is now.
What’s a Business Plan?
A business plan is a good tool for understanding the different parts of your business. While creating a business plan, you’ll make many decisions about how your copywriting company will operate. Most business plans include the following sections:
- Executive Summary
- Company Description and Market Analysis
- Organization and Management
- Copywriting Services Offered
- Marketing and Sales
- Funding Request and Financial Projections
Putting your ideas for your company down on paper provides a guideline for the future. It helps you make decisions and keep moving forward.
For your copywriting company, you might not need all of these sections, so let’s look at the essentials.
A strong executive summary is essential, if you’re seeking any kind of funding. It’s a brief, high-level, narrative snapshot of your company. It highlights significant points from other sections of the document: what products or services you offer, how your company is structured, the details of your marketing and sales plan, and your financial goals.
Because it’s a summary, it’s usually written last. If it’s not well-written, the chances of anyone reading further are slim.
Now, even if you aren’t seeking funding, a well-written executive summary is helpful to you. It’s something you can review at the beginning of each week to remind yourself of your goals and how you plan to reach them. It can play a key role in keeping you on track.
Company Description and Market Analysis
Your company description section provides detailed information about you and your copywriting business. What products and services do you offer to your clients? What past experiences do you bring to the table? What differentiates you from other copywriters?
Start laying the groundwork about how you plan to solve customer problems. List potential clients, including individual consumers, organizations, or businesses you hope to serve.
Folded into this section is Market Analysis.
There is an old saying, “Know your enemy.” Study what other copywriters are doing. What strategies and messaging are they using? What can you do that’s different? How will you set yourself apart when using the same strategies. Look for untapped copywriting niches. You could decide to serve local customers that you meet through network gatherings, for example.
The work you put into this section will speed your marketing efforts later. When you need to create materials for your website, write a LinkedIn profile, or send a proposal to a company, the details in this section will remind you of all the reasons it’s smart for a company to choose your services.
Organization and Management
If you’re like most copywriters, you’re a one-person show. Make a list of all the different roles you play within your business. You also probably have other professionals that you hired to help with things like tax preparation and legal advice. List those people in this section.
The other part of this section is to describe the legal structure of your business. There are legal and tax advantages, as well as disadvantages, to being a limited liability company (LLC) compared to a sole proprietor. Talk to your attorney and tax person to learn the pros and cons before deciding how to set up your business. It could save you money and protect you from headaches in the future.
Service or Product You’re Offering
What service do you offer to your customers? How does it benefit them? For a copywriter, here is where you provide an overview of each of your copywriting services, including how they benefit your clients.
Also include any specialized training or experiences you bring to the table.
Marketing and Sales
To have a successful copywriting business, you need to have clients. And to get clients, you need to market yourself. This is the section to lay out the marketing strategies you plan to use to bring attention to your business. There are many, many ways to market yourself, so focus on two or three methods.
Once your marketing pays off and potential clients start reaching out to you, you step into a sales process. Also describe that in this section. What steps will you go through to take a prospect from lead to client? And once they become a client, how will you work with them?
And remember, word of mouth is the best sales and marketing tool available. Do good work for your clients and ask them for referrals. Also, before you even land your first client, start talking to people you know about what you do.
Funding Request and Financial Projections
One way a business plan can serve you is to help you qualify for funding from a financial institution — a business loan. You may need up-front money to pay the bills until your copywriting business can support you.
Determine what you see as a full client workload and what income that will result in. Based on your financial projections, explain your requirements in a narrative format to your financial situation — how much money you’ll need and how you plan to use that money to grow your copywriting business — for example, using the funds to pay for a certification course. The training will allow you to expand your services to new clients and charge larger fees.
In this section, you might also show income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements, including graphs and illustrations, demonstrating your future strategic financial plans for your copywriting business. If you have other collateral against a loan, list it here, too. Provide specific details. Your job is to paint a positive financial picture.
This section is often overlooked, but for a copywriter, the Appendix is critical. Within the different sections of your business plan, you provide the narrative overview, and the Appendix is where you provide the supporting details.
The Appendix is where you’ll include your resume, contracts, completed copywriting projects, letters of reference, and other documents and spreadsheets that support the other sections of your business plan.
Using Your Business Plan
Whether you’re thinking about seeking a business loan or not, your business plan will help bring clarity to your plans for your business.
With that clarity, you’ll be better equipped to market your services with confidence and to continue growing your business. To stay on track, review your executive summary at the beginning of each week. And then, once a quarter, review your business plan and make updates.
You might have landed new clients or learned new skills that you can add to your Company Description. Or you might decide to adjust your sales plan for a smoother workflow. Or, maybe you’re working in a new niche, and your financial projections need to be adjusted to reflect the greater income potential.
By regularly checking in and updating your business plan, you’ll be in touch with your own growth, and that can be a powerful way to stay motivated and to keep leveling up.