Wednesday, December 17, 2008

30-Day Biz Planning Challenge: 2009 Modules

This is the third in a series of modules you can choose from to start making a business plan as you go. The first post laid out modules for your values and mission. The second laid out modules for assessing 2008. And now for the fun part: Planning and strategizing for 2009. Why do I say this is fun? As Emily Dickinson has said, "I dwell in possibility."

Planning for the coming year lays out all your possible paths and ways for you to get there. To get to the solutions, first you have to figure out your needs. That's what today's modules are about.

Remember: You can start anywhere. I've suggested an order, but please don't let it stop you. Pick one, do it, and go back to work.

Capital Spending 2009
Had your computer for five years already? Is your printer making a weird sound? Planning a move? Need a new desk, chair, laptop bag, digital recorder, memory or software? Make a list and spend a few minutes tooling around Amazon or other sites to get a rough average of expenses.

Make sure to include personal spending, because your business will have to support your personal life, as well.

Check on Your Emergency Fund
Mine has about $200 in it right now. For real. My goal is much higher. In this module, come up with a range you want to have in savings by the end of the year.

Estimate Taxes
Plan to set aside between a fifth and half of your income for taxes, depending on your tax bracket. Really. To find out your tax bracket, you can ask your accountant or check the IRS's Web site for self-employment tax information. I know this makes you want to hide under your bed, but including in your plan is essential to keep you out of crisis later. It's just a number. It really can't hurt you.

Income needs for 2009
Carry forward your current cost of living. Then, add in:
  • Capital costs you've come up with above;
  • Your savings goals;
  • Your tax needs;
  • Any scheduled increases in expenses, like health premium increases.
Now tally it all up. That's your need every month. Again, this is just another number, and if you don't make it, it really won't kill you. I can attest to this personally. I didn't hit my income goal for 2008, but having a goal got me a lot closer than I would have been otherwise.

Hourly rate
Take that number you came up with above and, if it's monthly, divide it by four weeks, then by about 20. Twenty is about the number of hours you can expect to spend on assigned work a month--at a maximum. Some freelancers spend as little as 15 percent of their time on income work. The rest goes to marketing, admin and bill collection. Really.

Does this all sound daunting? Of course it does. This is the scariest part of every business plan and the part that keeps people from doing any of the rest of it. If you don't have the stomach for it today, then hold off. Get a friend to do it with you, or at least sit with you while you try one of the modules.

For more help with this resistance, consider a post I did last year on business planning resistance: Righting the Resistance.

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