Many self-starters rarely take the time to develop a business plan because they’re ready to jump right into the action and get the ball moving with their projects. Working online will certainly result in this same course of action because you have the ability to throw up a website in an hour’s time compared to spending days (or weeks) mulling about with the planning.

However, despite the flexibility of starting an online business it’s still important to develop a plan … one that works for you.

There are plenty of guides for creating a business plan but let’s be honest: we’ll never know if things will go according to our best intentions. For that reason you should focus on a broad, shotgun approach to the plan to at least have some kind of direction for your project.

This article will cover the bare essentials for developing a plan that molds to your business – and how it will ultimately evolve, and improve your future outlook in your respective industry.

1. Have a general idea of what you’re doing

The “executive summary” is basically an overview of what you want to do and accomplish with your business. You should have already formed this when you began laying the foundation for your business but if you haven’t than go back, sit & think, and write down what you plan to accomplish with your website/business/project.

2. What makes you … you

The About section of your site can do a whole lot of wonders for building your brand and authority which is why you should take some time to really get an understanding of your principles, morals, and ethics behind the work you’re doing and the product you put into the field. Again, take a bit of time to write (and rewrite) your about over and over until it’s equivalent to an elevator pitch – be able to explain who you are and what you do without adding too much fluff and hype.

3. Analyze the competition and market

Go about using our guide to competitive analysis to get a great understanding of what your competition presents to the market (and how they market their brand). You’ll want to go into your business knowing what people expect from your business, and the platforms they’re active upon in order to reach them with your message. This activity can be simply listing out the competition, major social networks, ideas for content that would fit the industry, and gathering resources for advertising on the industry preferred networks.

4. Get organized

Working alone? Working with others? Develop some kind of hierarchy to the business so there is always some form of accountability. List out the traits and expertise of every individual involved and tailor their work to take advantage of their unique skills. Understand that you may need to reach to your community, network, or freelancers to accomplish some of your goals so be prepared to make that investment by detailing what’s required when you’re getting your start.

5. What’s the product and how is it delivered

What is your unique selling point? What makes your product better than the competition? Where are you sharing your product/information so that it accurately reaches your desired customers?

There are plenty of ways to monetize your business whether it’s direct sales through information (or physical products), advertising, sponsorship, and more. Many site owners just start slapping together content and begin their networking without and end goal in mind. You should take this time, as you develop your plan, to scope the opportunities and pair everything afterward with the marketing funnel you put in place so that all your efforts are sending qualified leads to your monetization method.

The Web makes it Simple

There’s a lot more to a business plan than these five categories but I feel that they’re the most important when we’re talking about a solo project because it allows you to stay flexible but still keep a level head on your shoulder when you’re going into the launch.

Business plans can be a great way to give guidance to the project but they can also prevent you from evolving, organically. For this reason you need to develop a plan that works for your business rather than taking a cookie cutter template from Word and slapping together a wall of buzz words and fluff.

Make the plan. Put it to action. Evolve. Strive.