At this point you might be wondering how these myriad pieces could possibly fit into a single, cohesive business plan. You started by analyzing your situation. Then, I told you to diversify. Then, I told you to set some goals and you probably came up with so many it seemed overwhelming. So, you picked out your big goals and worked backwards to try to figure out how to achieve them. Then, you worked forwards and wove yourself a web to capture as many of the smaller goals as you could.
But all that doesn’t really add up to a business plan now does it? You are getting closer, but you’re not quite there yet.
Before you can develop all this information into a business plan, you need to create mini-plans for each of your projects or categories of projects. Only you know what your projects are and only you can decide how to break them down. But I will tell you how I did it in the hopes that it will help you organize your thoughts.
I chose five different categories to cover all my activities. Admittedly, there will be some overlap between these categories, but each is distinct. The first category is general freelancing. This covers all the work that I will do with the primary purpose of making a living. While these activities will accomplish some achievement goals and they will make it easier for me to sell my books, the primary purpose of these activities is to earn an immediate living. Writing for trade publications and providing services to a select variety of clients fall into this category. The second category is my nonfiction platform. This covers all the work that I will do with the primary purpose of writing and publishing nonfiction books about autism. It also covers the platform-building activities I need to do to make my books a success, including writing articles, developing relationships with desired audiences, and producing mini e-books for direct sale. The third category is a secret project which I’m not going to discuss at this time. The fourth category is my fiction work, covering short stories, novellas, novels, and audience-building activities. The fifth category is a catch-all for those things I want to do just because I want to do them, including writing poetry and developing the skills I need to teach writing in a professional setting.
Each of these categories, or umbrellas, covers a different set of activities with different goals. I can plan each category out separately over time without having to worry about what I’m doing in the other categories. I suggest you find a similar system to keep your diverse activities straight and out of each other’s way. But, you may also want to be clear on your priorities as you enter this phase of building a business plan. Some categories of work are going to be more important than others. One way to recognize that is to devote more time to those categories. Another way is to order your activities, but leave the scheduling flexible.
You can sort out the activities in each category by the year. For example, if yours is a five-year plan, pick out what you want to accomplish in the first year, the second, and so on. Next, take all the activities you want to accomplish in the first year, and break them down by quarter. Take the activities for the first quarter, and break them down for into months or weeks. I suggest having a list of things you need to accomplish and a list of things you should accomplish if you have the time. Make sure you recognize the difference between what’s urgent and what’s important, prioritizing things that are both urgent and important first, then balance things that are urgent or important as you work. One purpose of having a plan is to ensure that both urgent and important things are properly prioritized. We can live our lives putting out fires, but if we plan well enough we can take care of important things in their proper times and prevent many fires from ever starting.