Benefits of Working from Home

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The internet has made working from home to be very popular in the recent past. It has made the world to be a global village making it possible for people to work for any company in the world at the comfort of their home.

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Like most other activities in life, working from home has its ups and downs but generally it is beneficial for you and your entire family. Working from home has a number of benefits, some of which are discussed below;

It saves time

There is a lot of time wasted by people who have to commute to and from work on daily basis. It starts with the time wasted during preparation for work, checking how you are dressed; whether it suits the company’s dressing code. Then there is the time wasted on traffic jams, and probably, time wasted while looking for a parking space if your company does not offer one.

If you are using public means of transport, you will be wasting time waiting for a bus or a train, and also walking from wherever you will alight to the office.

All these hours can be saved and used to do something productive if you are working from home.

Working from home frees this time so you can use it to get some chores done around the home before you begin your work, or you can have an earlier start to your work day to have more free time later in the day.

It saves money

If you add the cost of working away from your home, you will be surprised just how much it adds up to.

Just sit down and add the cost of gas, the cost of work clothes that you no longer need, the cost of lunch that you eat out once in awhile, and you will be surprised at how much you would save by working from home. Matters can get worse if you have children in daycare that you are paying for and a house-keeper that you pay a monthly salary.

Working from home will give you time to take care of your children and at the same time eliminate the need for a house-keeper, this will be a great saving for you.

It reduces sicknesses

Working from home will make you have less sick days. When you work from home, you will not be around so many people and that means you will not be around as many germs. Certain diseases spread through handshakes in work places or by being close to workmates who sneeze or cough. While at home, you can eliminate all these.

But in case you fall sick, you will realize that it is easier to work from home than from the office. A simple disease like a common cold can be quite embarrassing to deal with when you are in the office. Working from home will also ensure that your children do not fall sick so often since you will be around to take care of them rather than having them in daycare which exposes them to other children who might be sick.

It allows you to work in a comfortable environment

The environment in which you are working determines your productivity. While working at home, you can design your workplace to fit your taste and make it as comfortable as you wish. You can also choose to work in the house or even under a tree in a cool environment.

It allows you to balance you work and your life

Staying at home with your family is one of the main reasons people decide to work from home. It gives you more time to spend with your family. Many work-from-home jobs are also very flexible. Once you have set your workload per day, when and how to complete it will be up to you. There will be no one breathing on your neck to complete the work.

This means you will have control over what you do and at the same time be available for your family. Your children need to bond with you and the time spend with them will really benefit them psychologically.

Here’s some ways to convince your boss to let you work from home!

The Importance Of Small Business Marketing Planning

work at home enterprising marketing plan

In the immortal words of the American Statesman, Colin Powell, “There is no secret to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure”.

work at home enterprising marketing plan

Small businesses more than any need to have a business plan, and need to be able to plan ahead; unlike larger well established industry leaders they are not as well insulated to the fickle nature of markets. One of the most important considerations is marketing. Bad marketing can break a company and ensure it never gets past the first stage whilst good marketing can hitch your business to a rocket heading to the top.

How do you effectively use the many marketing strategies out there to maximize the positive exposure you need to develop and grow your business? The short answer is through planning, and the long answer is through marketing planning.

Why Should a Small Business Have a Marketing Plan?

Like I said above, marketing can lead to business boom or bust. Here I’ve outlines the top 5 reasons you should defiantly consider starting market planning:

5. Budgeting

Although marketing doesn’t need to be expensive, often a large majority of a company’s expenditure will go on adverting and brand management. As such, a marketing plan can give you an idea of how much you will need to successfully market your business.

4. Focus

As with a business plan, a marketing plan can help you keep focus on how you plan on developing your business and your brand

3. Deadlines and Timelines

It’s important to include how long you expect to continue marketing strategies and help keep track of what projects you currently have. How long will you fund that billboard on route 12? Do you even still remember you’re paying for that?

2. Outline and Direction

As with a business plan, a marketing plan can help give direction to the development of your marketing strategies and help you understand how to keep them dynamic and able to change as situations change.

1. Investment Attraction

Having a marketing plan alongside your business plan will help to reassure potential investors of how well organized and on top of everything you are and how their investment will be used wisely and should result in a return.

What Should a Market Plan Include?

A marketing plan needs to be carefully considered. It should consider and be based on three main ideals or principles.

Firstly, the plan should direct marketing personnel. It should be comprehensive and outline just what strategies will be used, for how long and to what end. Having an idea of this outline will help them build upon and adapt your thoughts into the most effective iteration it can be.

In this way you should have a marketing department that is not only efficient but also understands what you want from them. For a small business, this task can be outsourced to an appropriately trained freelancer – the premise either way is the same.

Secondly, it can outline future goals you wish your marketing strategy to achieve and like all plans can seriously contribute to adding direction to development when your business starts to expand.

Lastly, a marketing plan should include initiatives for funding. Attraction of investors is a good start, but you need to understand exactly what certain marketing measures will do for your company and whether they are worth it. What has a better cost to benefit ratio between a radio advert and a TV advert?

How Researched Should the Marketing Plan be?

As I’ve hinted at above – very extensively. It’s no good having a plan and strategies but having no idea how they’ll work out both in the short term and the long run. Keep in mind the idea of marketing strategies and the cost to benefit ratio. Consider what your market research says about certain ideas as well as how these work together for a greater marketing and brand presence.

Making Money with oDesk

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Making money online as a freelancer is a great way to earn a living, and oDesk is one of the biggest locations where freelancers go to find work.

On oDesk, freelancers are able to create a profile in just minutes, take a few free tests to prove their abilities, and begin offering their services within the first hour.

Should you consider working as a freelancer on oDesk? Here are some things to consider before jumping online and filling out your profile information.

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1. What kind of work will you do?

There are many, many ways to make money on oDesk. No matter your skills there are opportunities for you. Here are some of the most popular areas of work to consider, going from menial to highly technical.

1. Data Entry – Jobs in this area will pay on the low end, but that’s fine because it means anyone can do them. If you’re just getting started on Odesk and have no skills, then this can be a good place to start! If you are an efficient worker you may competitively earn upwards of $7 per hour which can be a great salary depending on your location.
2. Writing and Translation – Have a knack for words? Speak more than one language? People want to hire you! Businesses need content created for their blogs and social media profiles. Many organizations need help translating documents between languages such as English, German, Spanish, and French. These jobs can pay $10-$15 per hour, which is a good wage even in North America.
3. Design and Multimedia – Have a creative edge? Graphic designers, architects, and CAD designers can earn top dollar on oDeskfor their skills. Illustration and logo design are also popular tasks. Once you build up a reputation for quality, you can expect to be paid between $15 and $30 for your time, energy, and skills on oDesk.
4. Web Development – Programmers can rake in the big bucks! These skills are so alien to most people that that businesses are happy to pay top dollar to outsource work in this area. Pay for developers on oDeskcan easily exceed $40 per hour! If you have the right skills, selling your development services online can be exceptionally profitable.

2. You will be your own boss.

This can be both a blessing and a curse. You won’t have someone breathing down your neck to have those reports done by Friday, that’s for sure. You will, however, need to push yourself in the same way a manager would. Especially when you are just starting out, you will need to keep focused while spending considerable time sending out work offers for no pay at all.

Can you push yourself to succeed? If you think you may need a boss to physically watch you in order to work efficiently, then perhaps a career on oDesk isn’t the right choice for you.

3. Location, location, location.

One of the best aspects of working on oDesk is that you can work from anywhere! All work is done via the Internet, and this leads to some wonderful possibilities.

You can work from North America if you like, but you could just as easily purchase a one-way ticket to Thailand and work from there!

Sweetening the deal further, consider the differences in currency as you travel the world. In Thailand you will be able to purchase delicious meals for as low as $1, and rent in Bangkok can be as low as $300 per month for a downtown studio apartment.

Internet connection problems are fast becoming a thing of the past. Hotel and apartment building owners are catching on and installing fast connections all over South East Asia and South America. Wifi cafes are everywhere and you can often work all day long without an issue.

So, is freelancing on oDesk for you?

If you want to live in the United States but don’t think you qualify for anything more than a data entry position, you should avoid taking this route. Consider, however, that if you decided to hit the road to South East Asia, this pay may be more than satisfactory.

Have some top dollar skills like graphic design or web development? Definitely check out oDesk to see what freelancers with similar skills are earning.

Will you be able to push yourself to work when you need to? Can you really take on responsibility and be your own boss? If so, then working while you travel (or even just avoiding the morning commute!) may be in your near future.

Want to spend more than your 3 weeks paid vacation in South America? How about 3 months, or 3 years! If you love to travel, oDesk is a great way to make money on the go. You may even be able to extend your vacation indefinitely!

If you’re looking to make money online, oDesk is a great place to start. Go for it!

You can also use oDesk to find yourself a great virtual assistant to help you grow your business.

Why you Should Consider Hiring a Virtual Assistant for your Small Business

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A virtual assistant is usually a freelancer or a professional with experience in industry or business assistance. If you’re starting to think about expanding your business then here’s why you should start by hiring a virtual assistant: you need to concentrate on organically growing your business, expanding your client base and improving your branding and marketing – you do NOT need to be stuck answering pointless emails and trying to re-organize your system.

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What are the benefits to a virtual assistant?

You’re likely at a point in your businesses development where you’re starting to break even or even starting to turn a profit. You’re also probably starting to see your workload mount up and it is starting to threaten to overwhelm you. Checking your emails in the morning now takes twice as long as it did a month ago and in a month it’ll likely be even worse. A virtual assistant can cut right through all of that before you even get in to work; they can sweep out the pointless and refine the important.

A virtual assistant can help free up both your time and focus so that you can start thinking about moving the dial on your business, and really invest some time in stepping it up a notch.

They are also good at relieving stress not because they’re yoga masters (though some might be) but because they can help lend perspective to your vision and cut down the administrative work you need to do to succeed.

If you need an assistant that comes fully trained, as well as providing a service without being a physical presence that would otherwise mean you would have to find a new office, then the ‘virtual’ is exactly what will help your business excel. Like a quality website it will greatly benefit how your business is perceived.

What type of work can I give a virtual assistant?

In short, anything that doesn’t require them to be there. In practice, virtual assistants can do a myriad of things except bring you coffee. They might cut down the hassle of emails by screening them before you read what’s important as well as responding to queries on your behalf.

Usually they are well organized and can help to go through your online files, deleting things you don’t need and updating things you do. Scheduling of appointments and booking travel arrangements for business meetings and trips would fall under the appropriate jurisdiction of a virtual assistant.

On top of day to day activities, a virtual assistant is often versatile enough to handle individual projects that you yourself do not want to complete such as manage projects that are not of vital importance to your company’s development or carry out market research into a competitor and compile all of the information in a concise format for you.

How do I get a personal assistant?

As there is more than one way to skin a cat, there is more than one way to hire a virtual assistant. The method you use often depends on both individual preference and availability.

Regardless of which method you will choose, you first need to outline exactly what you wish your virtual assistant to do for you. This can help attract the right sort of assistant that understands both what you expect as well as knows how to complete the tasks wanted.

You can then look online, as this is where the majority of virtual assistants will look for new positions. Try using online classfields like Craigslists or networking sites like LinkedIn.

Another option that often yields the most cost effective and appropriate responses is using a freelance network like oDesk, where freelance virtual assistance will be able to bid for an hourly wage as well as show you their qualifications. The advantage of this method is that oDesk facilitate the hiring of the freelancer, from payments to academic tests. It makes it easy for you to select the right person for the position and then to manage their ongoing work.

However you go about it, a virtual assistant can be a very valuable asset to your work at home enterprise.

Read about more tools that are important for your business.

Find Out What Your Competition is Doing

Now that you’ve got your business idea and you have an idea of what you want to sell or what service you’re going to provide, you next have to consider you competition.

work at home enterprising competition

A common mistake made in business plans, especially for small work from home business start-ups is the failure to acknowledge your competition. Unless you’ve come up with an idea never to have been attempted, you can be sure that there is already an established business already doing what you want to. Saying you have no competition is just a lie and you need to be realistic about how you will approach this. It is an aspect just as important as your color scheme or logo. This is a crucial step in developing your business plan and is something that should be done when evaluating your business idea.

Who Are You Competitors?

While this may seem like a fairly easy question to answer, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security when searching. Remember than competitors are often, if not always, competing companies providing a service, but can also be other more abstract things.

Think about things like whether there a free government service for what you propose. This is something that could potentially be an issue as they have near unlimited resources and can swamp the market.

When you consider ‘who’ your competitors are, you also need to consider how saturated the market is in the area you propose to operate. The market itself could be a competitor if it solicits sales away from you. When thinking about the above question, consider all avenues of thought.

What Are the Strengths and Weaknesses of Your Competition?

A question like this is a logical next step in your consideration of competition for your business. Whilst the strengths of big companies is their resources and established client base, you need consider what you, as a small local business, can do to undermine them and provide a service that they cannot.

It’s important to consider that with more income comes more expenditure. What advantage is this for you and what weakness is it for your competition? Also think about how an established mid-range company might be stagnated or complacent.

What Can You Learn From You Competitors?

If you’ve yet to launch your business then you are in a slightly better position that your established competitors. You have the invaluable skill of doing up-to-date market research and can adapt your company fast without the consequence of alienating a non-existent client base.

It would be fool-hardy to ignore your greatest source of information about the business you want to nurture – your competitor! Remember that they’ve already been in the position you are now and they’ve made it to where they are. Try looking into how they did it or past mistakes and mishaps. What can you learn from their past performance?

Also think about how you can improve on the service they offer. As I mentioned, they might be happy in the position they currently hold and are blind to the idea that a new business could steal away their customer base. This leads to the last question you need to ask:

How Can You Beat Them?

What makes your new company better than theirs? Try to think how you can freshen up the industry and offer something that they’ve not thought of; research into their dissatisfied customers (their bound to have some) and see what you can learn so that when you launch your new business you’re instantly better.

Always consider your unique selling point and try to make it both dynamic and organic as well as putting the ‘unique’ in unique selling point to really distance yourself from your competition.

Building a Work at Home Website

work at home enterprising website

In this day and age, trying to start a business without using the greatest asset available to trade since currency – the internet – is not only foolhardy but can also be very expensive and will make the whole process a thousand times harder than it needs to be.

work at home enterprising website

Of course, times were simpler when many of the well established brands and corporations we know and love were first brought about, but even they now have an online presence, and it cost a lot more to start and keep a company in those days.

Why Do I Need a Website?

Nowadays anyone can post anything on the internet. The trick for your business is how you can utilise this easy to access, free and universal resource effectively and to maximum effect.

A well made and intuitively designed website can tell potential clients and investors more about your business and your team than any press release or business meeting. Websites that are easy to use, professional and informative can help reassure clients of the legitimacy of the business as well as make them more likely to engage with you about potential work.

In the world of online shopping and marketing, a website can help redirect traffic to you as well as work as the most invaluable marketing tool you put in to practice to tell people about yourselves and exactly what you do.

A business card, letter or poster can be limiting, but a website can bring together the perfect blend of multimedia and information in the best possible way to promote your business. It is quite truly limitless.

What Do I Need to Think About When Setting Up my Website?

The first thing you’ll need to do is register a domain name – the name that you can direct people to and the one you’ll build your website on. Think of it as buying a plot of land on to which you plan to build your shop. If you have a business name already, then try and hunt down the best way to make it into a domain name.

If your business still doesn’t have a name, this is the point you have to finally decide. This domain name will be the source of all of your web activity; of course you might employ social media or marketing and advertising websites to get wider coverage, but the core of your businesses online presence begins and ends with this domain name.

Next you have decide on the theme of your website – how it will look and how it will feel. This is where you need to be you’re most creative. If you already have an established small business and are looking to develop with an online presence, then things like colours and styles are likely already set and ready to go. There are lots of ideas on wordpress.org.

If you’ve got a new work from home business, this is the first time you try to develop a brand: something that will set you away from the competition and make you unique.

How Do I Get A Website?

You need to decide on who will ‘host’ your website. All this means is who will look after the maintenance and all the technical stuff that will ensure your website looks its best. There are many free online services which let you create your website and then pay a premium to make them independent (a unique domain name rather than their company name followed by yours).

These sites can help you get a real sense of what a website is like as well as letting you make tweaks and developing it – all before its available to the public. You can make it look just how you want!

You should also read our article about backing up your data.

How to Pick the Right Small Business Idea

One of the most common questions asked by people who want to start their own small business is ‘how do I pick the right idea’? These are some considerations that need to be taken in to account.

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Firstly, what do you mean by right idea? People often think that business ideas fall in to one of two categories with the first being so called ‘financial successes’; or ideas that will get you rich. The second is a more personal idea, one that you have a passion or interested for and one that you want to turn into a business. What I often say to them is simple – why can’t you aim for both?

With this aside, there are certain pointers that work for both independently and must be considered and addressed when it comes to business ideas. No one is less important than another – whilst some considerations might take longer to work out or more resources, other should be quick decisions. Either way, they all come together to give you an idea that will lead you to the outcome you want.

Brainstorm ideas

This sounds pretty simple, but when you sit down to think about what idea your going to pick up and run with it becomes very difficult to pick one. Having an idea of what you want to do is a good start, a service requires different planning that a product.

You need to consider how much work you want to put it and what you want to get out of the business. If you’re really stuck for an idea, make a list of all of the things that annoy you throughout the day – make a note of all the times you’ve thought ‘I wish someone would invent…’ Of course, an invention or marketing a new idea is more work than something more mainstream, but can have a higher reward.

Is there something you’re really passionate about like baking or flowers? Then turn it into a business! There’s an old saying that if you enjoy what you do at work you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Turn your hidden talent into an idea and start thinking about what you would do with it.

Here’s a list of 100 business ideas if you are having problems getting started.

Research the best business plan

Now that you’ve got an idea, you need to research the best type of business plan. In the small business world there are 6 types:

  • Start-Up – a new idea or something that’s never been attempted. Also an idea that wants to start in an already established industry such as News
  • Growth Plan – One that outlines exactly how an established company will grow and develop.
  • Feasibility Plans – a plan that tries to break-down exactly who will use or purchase the surface and makes a decision based on the outcome of how to proceed.
  • Operations Business Plans – shorter term type of plan that works out how a business or company will operate over the next year or time specified
  • Strategic – provides you with an intuitive and complete map of exactly what the goal of the business is and how you will achieve them.
  • Internal – made for use within the business primarily as appose to being freely available to the public – it evaluates a project or business idea

Come up with a business plan

Once you know what business plan you need to use, you can easily research the best way to go about laying out exactly how you’re going to do it. Remember that business plans are vitally important in helping your business grow and is essentially if you are applying for a business loan with a bank or looking to attract investors. First things first though, get your idea and get your plan together!

Read my article about finding new ideas for your business.

Why A Home Office Is Essential For A Successful Home Business

So you’ve decided to set up your own business and want to work from home. What is the first thing you need to do (other than a business plan)? If you have an idea of what you want your business to be then the vital next step is to set up a home office – somewhere you can work without the stresses and distractions of everyday home life.

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Why You NEED a Home Office

Of course the best thing about having your own business and working from home is the freedom to work how you want to, when you want to, and on whatever project you want. Starting a work-from-home business is the first step to a self sufficient career, but it is important that you have a place you can work to your maximum potential.

As you know, as soon as you sit down and try to relax in your home something happens that makes you get back up again; the phone rings or the laundry is ready. These little distractions can end your dreams of a home business straight away: imagine the same scenario but instead of trying to relax you’re instead on a business call with a client or trying to place a very important stock order.

It is the most basic necessity of a successful work-from-home career that you have a place that is cut off from all of the things that will get in the way of what you want to accomplish – you NEED a home office before you can start getting serious and finally working for yourself in something you love to do.

What Makes a Successful Home Office?

There are some simple rules that you need to think about when setting up a home office. Remember that it’s not just about the space you use but also about how you use it.

1 – Stay Professional

The attraction of working from home may be than you can wear whatever you want and not shower for days – you don’t actually have to see anyone so why should it matter? Always remember ‘Look Good, Feel Good’ – your work output will be so much better and to such a higher standard if you dress professionally rather than not dress at all. Think about what you would do if you were in the same position a few years down the line or if a client wants a spur of the moment business meeting. Are you going to go to work everyday in sweatpants and your favourite jumper?

2 – Keep Active & Move

While an everyday job may not require a lot of movement, a work at home job requires even less. At least when you work in an office you have to get up every day and commute there. This might be a factor in why you’ve decided to start your own business but it isn’t healthy to move from your bed to your office with very little transition. This links to point one – if you feel good and healthy on the outside, you’re going to see the benefits in your output.

3 – Keep Organised

If you have started your own business and your working on your own then you NEED to stay on top of everything. Without a boss, you are responsible for everything you do; you’re the CEO, CFO, financial department, media department, communication department and housekeeping. There’s a lot to keep track of and you need a system to make sure things don’t go wrong.

4 – Don’t Become a Recluse

Always keep social! While you might think friends and family are the distractions mentioned above, bear in mind that still need feedback from the world. Of course stay concentrated on your job when you need to, but don’t let your business take over your personal life. Set boundaries and time frames – you wouldn’t stay at your desk job from 7 am to 10 pm so why would you do it at home?

If you keep these simple pointers with you, there’s nothing stopping you from accomplishing your goals and having a super successful business in the future. A home office can really set you apart from other people with the same idea and can help you ensure that you get what you deserve.

Here’s some tips about how to design your home office.

Does A Work At Home Business Need A Business Plan?

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Business plans are one of the most vital parts of planning a small work at home business. If you have an established company and don’t have a business plan then you are in the very small minority. There are questions that I always get asked when it comes to small businesses and business plans: I’ve tried to answer them in the clearest way possible.

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What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is essentially all of your thoughts, ideas and plans for your business written down into an easy to read and freely accessible (by you) form so you can easily refer to it and refer potential investors or banks to it as well. It can allow you to grow your business in a planned and understood way as well as give your development some direction so that you don’t end up making changes to your business that you didn’t plan and didn’t want.

In short, a business plan helps you to keep track of all the moving parts of a business and helps you to understand exactly what you want to accomplish and how you plan to get to these goals, as well as what you’ll do after.

Does A Small Work From Home Business Need a Business Plan?

There is a small percentage of small business owners that have established their work from home business without using a plan, but why would YOU, a prospective small business owner, risk everything and then leave the outcome to chance.

The point of a business plan isn’t to trip you up or to pin you down to a certain plan for the next 4 years. Instead it works to clarify exactly what you want to achieve and helps you to think how you’re going to achieve small business success.

The main difference between a business plan and a plan that is formulated to give some idea of how a business hopes to work is detail. A business plan works like a sidekick to make sure you’ve thought through every eventuality and are ready to face problems should they come up.

A business plan, especially for a small business, needs to be organic and dynamic and able to adapt to certain stimuli. Yes, a large banking corporation can survive an undulating market, but how will your small business fare if your market suddenly decide to move away or your product loses demand.

Will a Business Plan Be Useful For My Small Business?

Many small businesses, likely yours, will at some point need a cash injection to help them out. This is common practice and usually comes in the form of a bank loan. The problem? Banks don’t readily give out their money to every small business owner that needs a loan. This is where the business plan comes in to its own.

A business plan is essentially your business on paper, and when you do it right you can reassure banks not only that you business will be a success (they don’t really care about this) but that you will be able to pay back your loan with interest.

A business loan isn’t like a personal loan for a new house or new car; there a far more hoops you have to jump through. A business plan can help you cut through all the red tape and make is 10 times easier to get your much needed start-up funds.

Does A Business Plan Constrict My Business Growth?

The short answer is: only if you let it. Like I’ve said above, keep your business plan dynamic, it will more than likely need to adapt to some unforeseen problem or change that not even the best business owner could have predicted.

A business plan is not set in stone and is not the written future of your business for the next 4 years. It is simply a device to allow you to plan where you want to go and how you’ll get there.

You can also read what I think about having a marketing plan.