Let’s say you are the newly minted elearning director, manager, or whatever position they created for you in that association that wants to explore the idea of creating, and packaging, online courses to market to members and other professionals. Well, they are going to ask you: how much will it cost? When will we have our investment back? Will we see any profits? What technology will we be using? And so on.
Have you panicked yet? If this is your first managerial position, you are very concerned. If it is not, maybe not so much. The latter crowd will tell you that they have written reports, summaries, and plans that outline the answer to those questions. In that case, don’t read this post, you are not the main focus of this article. This is meant for first-time managers, recently promoted managers, professional entrepreneurs or freelancers that need some kind of direction to get where they want. In order to answer the questions above, you need a business plan.
Don’t buy that business plan software just yet. If you are a one-man (or woman) show, you don’t need that kind of workhorse. You just need Google Docs or a plain spreadsheet and a word processor. A business plan does not need to be a long document with pretty pie charts and spreadsheets with numbers for the next five years. But it needs to have the information of what you are planning for your enterprise for at least the next year. You need to outline the goals you expect to attain, and they need to be measurable, for example:
- number of contracts you expect to secure,
- number of customers you expect to serve and how much revenue will bring in,
- number of billable hours you would expect to invoice,
- number of students you expect to enroll in your online courses,
- and so on.
This also applies for your plan for your association, although in this case you would need a more detailed plan than the freelancer needs. In both cases it is important to lay out what your business will do, what your market is, how are you planning on marketing your services, and other details that will help your company achieve those goals.
One important detail that you need to lay out in this plan is exactly what you are selling. Is it a product? Is it a service? You just cannot say that you are selling elearning, that is a very broad term. But you could say that you are selling an online course on time management, or that you are offering weekly paid webinars on three technical subjects such as energy savings, green buildings, and waste management.
If the market changes, you can change the plan (and maybe what you offer), but you need to have it ready, you never know when that venture funding could show up. Plus it will help your bosses at that association see the vision you have for the task they entrusted you with.