If you have been following this series, then you’ll recall that to date we’ve discussed what a virtual assistant (VA) is and does. We have also discussed some of the steps to planning your virtual assistant practice, transitioning into it, and finding clients.
If you haven’t been following this series or seem to have forgotten parts of it, you may go to the navigation bar, click on “Virtual Assisting” and follow the drop-down menu to the “Series”.
Now we will discuss how to write a business plan. Don’t let this scare you. It’s not as difficult as it seems and there are plenty of online resources to help you with this task.
One of the first places that I would recommend going would be to the SCORE.org web site and downloading a few of the Templates and Tools on their navigation bar. SCORE (Service Corps or Retired Executives) is a non-profit organization, which works directly with the US Small Business Association (SBA) to assist entrepreneurs and small businesses in growing and succeeding. Many of the volunteers at SCORE are former entrepreneurs, small business owners or CEOs of companies.
A business plan will help your VA practice define its goals and objectives and have a time line for achieving them. Also at this time, you may also want to consider writing a mission statement (business philosophy) for your business. A good resource to begin writing your mission statement would be to go to missionstatements.com web site. Click on a few examples, and you should get an idea of how to write the mission statement for your VA practice.
A well-written business plan will help you each month:
• Evaluate how well your business does in operations and finances
• Project monthly cash flow
• Access ROI (return on investment) of marketing results
• Examine “Profit and Loss Statements” to help with taxes
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A business plan can be a six-month plan, a two-year plan or for any time frame. The important thing to remember is that you will be revisiting it and revising it as your VA business grows and changes. You will also need to indicate the last revision date somewhere in the footer or on the cover page of the document. A well-written business plan can take several weeks to write, so take your time writing it.
What do you need to include in your business plan? Here is a list with a brief description of each item:
• Cover sheet – include your company name, logo, and contact information.
• Table of Contents – this will tell you which page to find your information
• Company Overview – describe your business, its location, and services
• Mission Statement – include your mission statement as previously discussed
• Goals – include your company’s goals for the time frame
• Objectives – take your goals and decide how to reach each one with a deadline
• Financial Objectives – decide how much you need to make and spend each month
• Marketing Plan – include your target market (niche) and how you will reach them
• Pricing and Pricing Plans – outline what you will charge for your services
• Skill Assessment – include skills you currently offer and skills you may offer or outsource
• Advertising Plan – estimate what you will spend and where you will spend it
• Sales Projections – estimate what your sales will be for the end of the time frame
• Financial Plan – list sources of revenue that will carry your business through this period
The items that I have listed above are probably one of the simpler business plans. As you can see, a business plan is not something that you can sit down and write in an afternoon. Yet, it doesn’t have to be a long, complex document either. Again, I would recommend going to the SCORE web site to get started or having another VA help you get started.
For those of you who have already written your business plan, how are you doing with it? Are you reaching most of your goals or is your business plan in revision mode?