Many people work from home when they start their own business. Even businesses that are now giants in their industries like Apple, Mattel, Amazon and Disney all started their operations by working from home (in these cases, they used their garages). In addition to entrepreneurs carving out a unique niche for themselves, today’s economy is also full of direct-sales and direct-marketing home businesses for solo-preneurs, and many of them work from home on nights and weekends if not full-time.
Working from home has many opportunities to keep overhead low and provides flexible working hours while growing a fledgling business, which is the appeal of being able to work from home. However, this freedom in working from home can also be too much for new business owners as it lacks the common structure of the employee revenue model that most people are used to. This is why every business owner planning to work from home needs an operations plan. It is a step in creating a full business plan, but many business owners who work from home (especially those with a direct-sales model business) skip a business plan altogether meaning they have skipped this very valuable piece.
What is the Operations Section of a Business Plan?
Operations is one of the four major headings within a business plan (leadership, marketing, and financials are the other three). Think of the operations plan as a picture of how your business works. This is the place where you will describe how you provide your products or services; who will accomplish which tasks; what your work environment looks like; and how your strategy frames actions like customer care and administration.
Why the Operations Plan Matters When You Work from Home.
Imagine it’s Monday morning and you wake up to start your day working from home. You had a lot of fun over the weekend, so do you hit the snooze button or just turn the alarm off altogether and go back to sleep? Once you do roll out of bed, let’s say an hour after you intended to, made your coffee and checked your personal Facebook feed, when do you start working on your business? How do you decide? If you have a list of things that need to get accomplished, are you going to pick the one that is the most fun and the most energizing? Probably. But what happens to the items that are less fun, like reconciling your bank account? They get pushed out of the way and may not get done for weeks, if not months (years?) without an operations plan to keep you on purpose. The operations section of a business plan is designed to outline your needed activities on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. This empowers you to stay on top of all of activities needed within your business and is designed to keep you from getting lost in the weeds or following tasks into unnecessarily minute projects (i.e. reconciling a bank account that leads you to checking the number of checks you have left, opening your wallet that leads you to organizing your store savings club cards, which leads you to browsing for coupons online, grabbing your keys, and going to the store). Your operations plan can outline when you are going to reconcile your bank accounts, how long you are going to spend on the task each week/month, and when you are going to spend time combing through office needs (like ordering more checks or shopping for new printer ink). Your operations plan becomes your accountability tool when you work from home.
The Operations Plan Generates Business Growth
Having an operations plan when you work from home gives you a powerful tool to keep you on track. The operations plan can also be used to generate business growth when you include operational tasks designed specifically to help you reach milestones and grow. For example, you can include a minimum number of networking events to attend per month. Other intentional operational plans to build your business while working from home include: allotting time for research and product development; outlining financial milestones to achieve (number of sales per week/month or income per week/month); planning which tasks will be the first to hand off to an employee or virtual assistant; instructions for collecting on accounts that are past due; methods to reach out to existing customers for return sales (i.e. customer loyalty programs or email promotions); competition research for SEO; and planned strategic partnership models among many other business growth techniques.
Build Your Operations Plan Today!
Don’t be afraid to do this. Your plan belongs to you to help you stay intentional. I know you want to produce results. To live your dream of financial freedom which is the most likely reason you started a business in the first place.
If you are ready to take the next step with your business while you work from home, download my free 5-page business plan guide here! This business plan outlines the key bullet-point items you need on a business plan, including the operations piece, in just five easy pages! Even if you don’t feel ready to build an entire business plan just yet, downloading this guide comes with a free 5-day business plan writing course via email to walk you through all of the other pieces which you can start now and tackle fully later when you feel ready. And did I mention it’s free? It’s so easy and so important, there really isn’t any reason not to get yours today!