In our continuing series of posts about business blogs, we’re going to take a look at business planning. When was the last time you took a look at your business plan? Have you updated it recently?
Why Your Online Presence Needs a Business Plan
In our last article I talked about tips for making time for blogging; having a plan for how to make the most of your online presence can be implemented more effectively once the business plan is in place.
This isn’t a process that should be too time-intensive or complicated. The plan will lay out the goals and objectives for your website and your blog. If you want to review some basics on business plans, the Small Business Administration offers good resources for business plans and many other topics of value to the business owner. Here are some starting suggestions:
- What is the purpose of your online site? You can combine website and blog, or write two separate plans. The first step is to write a simple statement, similar to a mission statement, about why your website exists. “My Website offers consumers the best carpet tacks in the state of New Jersey. We will provide 24 hour service to customers, answer questions and sell tacks at the most competitive prices in the Northeast.” There I’ve stated what I want to accomplish, clear simple and brief. I might add a statement that “my blog will provide resources, links to my product and tips for existing customers and others who want help in maintaining the life of their home and business carpets.”
- Now that you know why you have a website, it’s time to establish goals. You wouldn’t be on the internet if there wasn’t a goal; stating it clearly will help keep you on track. “My goal is to sell 50,000 carpet tacks a month. I also plan to bring in 500 new hits to my website/blog on a weekly basis.”
- The goals are then broken down into achievable outcomes. Maybe you will state your intention to blog 2 times a week. And, you’re going to review the website every Friday to fix broken links, see how traffic flows and what might need changing. These actions are pretty simple and you can check each task as you’ve accomplished it.
- Further work on your business plan could include future plans about what you want for the website. Maybe you want to hire online marketing experts to review the layout and content in three months. Do you want to add additional pages or expand the services you offer to clients? Write up a line or two about these proposed goals and some preliminary steps to take.
- Your business plan could include a section on online marketing with ideas on how to promote the website or make it more searchable. The more specific you are the easier it will be to achieve your goals.
- Resources – are there things you will need to achieve your goals? Do you need to take a class on marketing, or find a good book? Do you want to budget for an SEO analysis of your website? List what you might want or need to achieve your goals. This can be very concrete and easily achieved or it can be the bigger vision of what you’d like to do if money/time/energy were no problem.
With these ideas you should be able to put together a one or two page business plan that will help clarify what you want for your website and/or blog. This will allow you to work in a targeted fashion. When an idea comes up, or an employee suggests something, refer to this plan and see how it fits in with your goals. If the idea is great, but not something that will advance your business it isn’t something you want to undertake at this point in time.
A focused business plan helps you get clarity around your work, enhances productivity and keeps you focused on the bottom line. If you already have a business plan, how is it helping you? What other kinds of information would be helpful in developing your plan?