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Critical Elements of Your Written Business Plan – Part 1

May 03, 2011 By: Yvonne A Jones Category: Business - Entrepreneur, online business

If You Don’t Know Who Your Target Audience is, You Cannot Serve Them Effectively.

The first step in creating a Business Plan is to identify who your “target market,” “target audience,” or “ideal client” is.

This is a critical first step.  By starting a business online you have become an online marketer.  Whether you’re selling a service or products you will be in the business of marketing.  It therefore means that your marketing message must be crafted to attract and meet the needs of your particular audience, in order to produce effective results.

If you attempt to target everyone, you’ll probably have very little impact on anyone as your message and methods of delivery will be diluted.  Your message must educate your audience or market on how your product/s or services will meet or exceed their expectations.  They need to know how they will benefit by doing business with you.

When I first started my online business in the fall of 2008, I had been a Skin Care and Image Consultant for nine years with a large customer base but I had no idea who my ideal client was.   If you had asked me then I would have said, “Every woman with skin” because I truly believed that.  I’ve since been able to identify that my target market was: A 40 plus woman with some college, employed or an entrepreneur, owns her own home, spiritual-minded, involved in her community.  Interestingly, even though this is now my sub-niche, this description fits the majority of my customers, many of whom I’ve served for over 10 years.

Once you have identified your target market or ideal client, your responsibility as part of your business plan will be to:

  • Get to know your topic as it affects your market.
  • Develop specific goals and strategies around meeting their needs.  Keep in mind that in setting goals you can only set goals for things that you can control. You cannot control your customers or clients’ response to your efforts.
  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses.  Do you need to increase your knowledge of your topic so that when you talk or write about it you can do so in an enthusiastic and compelling way?
  • Research your competition.  As part of your marketing analysis you will need to know what others in your industry are doing
  • Create financial projections and growth expectations

Now that you have identified your target market or ideal client, it’s time to break down your business plan into sections.  Don’t be alarmed! :)  For most entrepreneurs one or two pages should be adequate, and we’ll look at the various sections in my next post.

9 Comments to “Critical Elements of Your Written Business Plan – Part 1”

  1. Regarding weaknesses and competition. Outline (and then thresh out) ways these will be obviated, finessed, or otherwise minimized. One key method is to carve out the white space the weakness or competition monopolizes

  2. Samantha Bangayan says:

    Wow, Yvonne! I’ve heard a lot about target audience, but never thought that it would be useful for me. I love your story about how you narrowed down your target audience over time. Right now, I freelance write for anyone can, but I think that I’m slowly developing an ideal client. =) Thanks for sharing your expertise! =)

  3. Jen Puckett says:

    Defining a target market is very important, but it is not always an easy task. As you said, we all have skin…love it! Same for me here, I am still trying to define my niche because I believe a VA could benefit many people. But as my business continues to grow, I see that having a target niche makes the marketing much easier. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Diana Simon says:

    Hi Yvonne, I always bring up the idea that to start your coaching practice, you must be able to identify your target market. Many coaches want to coach everyone and I like how you mentioned that initially your ideal client were “woman with skin”.

    With a target market in mind, you can focus on what solutions you can offer them. This will help you be the person they turn too.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  5. Roy, I would love to read something from you on ‘carve out the white space the weakness or competition monopolizes.’ That sounds like an area that my readers and I could benefit from. How about it?

  6. Samantha, I’ve been tardy in replying to comments, but interestingly I read an article just today where the author said something similar to your comment. She did that for years and now she niched it down and turned around her business to making huge profits. She basically stopped serving ‘everyone’ and focused on truly establishing herself as an expert in a different way. She now has products that can be sold over and over instead of to just one person. I’ll go back and search for the website and send you the link. I heard the recommendation for an ‘ideal client’ long before I implemented it…and it works 🙂

  7. I agree it’s no easy, Jen, because it’s a part of our nature, especially as women to want to serve/help everyone, but as you’ve found out we serve better when we identify our target niche.

  8. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your knowledge, Diana. As a coach training coaches, that’s invaluable, and I’m almost sure that they don’t always see the value at the outset. But it’s so important. 🙂

  9. Samantha Bangayan says:

    Ooh! Please do send me the link if you find it, Yvonne! =) Sounds like a motivating read! =)


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