When you open up a business book, the very first thing it will tell you is that you need to have a business plan ready before you can start your business. Well, this doesn't exactly hold true when it comes to freelancing. In fact, business plans tend to be completely useless, if not harmful, in the freelance world.
It is interesting to note that bigger companies are realizing this, too. So, why don't freelancers need business plans anymore? How are they more harmful than beneficial in today's day and age?
It is Nothing But an Excuse
A lot of people want to start a personal business, but are scared to start. Because of this, they choose to take some time off planning things first. As a matter of fact, a lot of these people keep planning so much that they never actually start the business in the end.
One of my friends has been working on a business plan for three years now. Three whole years. He hasn't even realized that he could have built a highly successful freelance business by now because he is crippled by the words of a business book. How sad is that?
I have personally always loved jumping into things head-first. Although I usually don't mind planning things out, I am have no excuses, anxiety or procrastination issues when it comes to business. If you are looking forward to starting your own business, then do it now. Half a year from now, that excitement might be gone or your enthusiasm might get murdered by stagnation. Think it out.
The Real World Has No Need for It
In the real world, business plans mean nothing. Although it is nice to keep track of your goals, business plans are nothing but mere guesses. They guess where you could be half a year from now, three years from now, etc. Unfortunately, plans hardly ever pull through, so why waste so much time guessing in the first place?
Another reason why it's useless is the fact that it's just paper. You write it down or type it out and print it, and then hide it in a drawer for the rest of your life. You might hang it up somewhere, but what are the actual chances of you looking at it again once you have client duties to think about? Nil.
It Can Stop You From Succeeding
Business plans can kill your chances of success if you keep trying to stay on their tracks. What are you supposed to do if success comes much faster than you originally planned? Business plans can actually cripple you if you don't raise rates as needed, don't fire clients as needed or don't reduce your hours as needed because of them.
It would be vital to note that business plans should never have the final word anyway. So, if you simply can't live without a plan, make sure you rewrite it every few months to make changes appropriate to your actual business as it goes.
Making Actual Goals
It might seem like there is no difference between writing a plan and making actual goals, but you can actually strive to achieve your goals. Goals come with steps of action that you can take on a daily basis to reach them as needed. They come with deadlines.
Goals are actually much better than business plans since you can update and change them with ease and you won't forget them, either. Goals are always there and they are what you will run your business for in the first place.
So, how can you actual achievable goals? The secret would be to pick an easy goal that you can achieve, yet one that is tough enough to have to work for. You can make a goal of making $1,000,000 this year through freelance design, but that would be very hard to achieve without fame. Conversely, making $100,000 is a very achievable goal, provided you put in a lot of perseverance and work into it.
Now, how can you make $100,000? First of all, you have to think about your rates. With your rates today, how much time would you need to reach your goal? Can it be achieved? If not, you might have to raise those rates. Also, which clients would you like to serve? Will they be able to support the new rates?
Once you have decided on your rates, clients and hours, you have to place your goals in an area that you see everyday, so you can take actionable steps towards them. It would be smart to break down your annual goal into smaller goals by month. So, if your goal is to earn $100,000 this year, you can aim to make $8,333 a month. Breaking down your goals will also make everything less daunting. Plus, it will give you check-in points to remind you of your goals. Now all you have to do is take these steps and add them into your regular schedule, so you can treat it as you do any regular business task. Good luck!