It is 10 years ago that I was one of 6 participants in what at the time was called “Virtual Training Program (VTP)” by AssistU. While nowadays it’s called “Virtual Mentoring Program” and a self-study course, during our 40-week program the 6 of us met in weekly conference calls with our instructor. A most welcome side effect is that 3 of us are still enjoying a deep friendship with one another and connect regularly, either to brainstorm, or just to chat and update each other on what’s been going on.

While going through the VTP, writing our Business Plan was one of the tasks at hand. Not as easy as I thought, not at all! Determining my target market was one of the first steps, researching where these professionals hang out, which associations they belong to, where they network etc.. Statistics, statistics ….

Then there was the big question: how to calculate my fees! I was amazed to realize what needed to be included to make us profitable; not only office equipment, but vacation, sick days, how much will need to be left over per hour once all other variables have been taken into consideration. Again, not an easy task! I myself found out embarrassingly quickly that I wasn’t profitable…. Fortunately my two clients at the time were understanding and had no problem with me raising my fees by quite a solid percentage.

Income projections: what was my income goal for year 1, year 2, year 3 and how many networking events would I need to attend to generate the clients needed? How many letters to write? What other marketing tools to use and at what cost?

What support team would I need? Lawyer? Accountant? Insurance Agent? Computer Technician? What others might need to be added at some later point?

Had I not been through the Virtual Training Program, I doubt I’d have had the clarity needed to start a successful business. Having a business plan that answered all important questions proved to be invaluable.

Have you written a business plan and what other aspects do you think are important items to cover in it?