Congratulations, it’s official: You are a first-time business owner! During Black Business Month, no less—you should be proud! And you’re in good company, too. According to census data captured earlier this year, over 1.2 million African Americans were self-employed in February 2022, up from 1.1 million two years earlier, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, the Harvard Business Review claims that 17% of Black women in the U.S. were in the process of starting or running new businesses. Black business ownership continues to be on the rise and shows no plans of slowing down.
The first few years of business are the most important, and without the right systems and plans in place, it will be hard to gain the traction to stay in business for the long haul. As a smart business owner with dreams the size of Montana, you don’t want to waste time spinning your wheels and miss out on key opportunities.
You might be thinking, “OK, I’m ready to take the leap and start a business—now what? What are the tools that I need to help my business thrive?” Don’t worry; I’ve got you. As a Founder myself for the last 10 years and helping new entrepreneurs get organized, I’ve learned the systems you should have in place to support and sustain the growth of your business. I’ve gotten it down to a science, and I’m going to give you the tea about Evernote’s business templates and the top templates I recommend when you’re just starting out.
A template to create a business plan
To build a sustainable business that will stand the test of time and grow with you, you’ll first need to start with a business plan. Whether you are a service provider, offer a product, or are raising funds from investors, you’ll need to be able to give a clear and complete picture of your company. Your business plan should be a simple breakdown that includes your mission, vision, business goals, a detailed description of the products or services you offer, and financial projections.
The Business Plan Template by Evernote provides a simple breakdown of these categories for your business. Writing a business plan can be so dense and intimidating, but this template makes it so easy to tell the story of your company and how you talk about what you do. I find that many business plan templates out there can be unnecessarily overcomplicated, leaving new business owners stuck and confused about what they actually need.
With this template, you can actually customize the sections of your business plan, only including the categories that make sense for your business. You can clearly show how your company will perform and why it will be successful, bringing as much detail as possible for each level of your business so that it’s easy to understand by people outside of your industry. Once you’ve laid out your plan, you can share the document with others using the share feature for collaboration and feedback.
A template to craft a marketing plan
The Marketing Plan is the next template I recommend for your business. If the idea of marketing your business makes you squirm, the ease of using this template to organize your marketing strategy and ideas will take the edge off a bit.
A quick look around this document and you’ll see it’s fully developed from soup to nuts. It helps you draft out your marketing ideas, outline the goals to support them, as well as the timeline to track progress. I love the versatility of this template because not only can you use it if you’re working with large marketing teams, it’s just as effective if you’re working solo as you build your business.
As a solopreneur, this template helps me draft my ideas for specific campaigns and customize them to my target client persona. When I first hired a marketing coordinator this year, I could easily share my marketing plan with them right away, so they knew exactly what my company’s positioning was and which strategies I wanted to develop.
A template to simplify your social media plan
To take it a step further in your marketing development plan, I suggest Evernote’s Social Media Plan template. This template is for you if you’re a content creator or otherwise want to boost your online presence with social media.
I used to use Excel to map out my social media content which took me hours to create. I had four different spreadsheets for each of my social media accounts, so you can imagine how overwhelming it was to keep track of all the schedules. But with Evernote’s template, I can put all of my accounts in one document. Hallelujah—simplicity!
This comes in handy when I want to plan out my content in advance. I can use this template to map out my weekly Instagram Lives, LinkedIn newsletters, and my podcast. This template allows you to plan content as far out in advance as you’d like so you always know what’s coming up in the schedule. Personally, I always aim to plan at least one week in advance, which keeps things flexible in case I need to move the schedule around at a moment’s notice.
A template to reflect on your successes
Finally, the Gratitude Journal template is definitely one of my faves. I’m a big believer in weekly gratitude practices, especially in my business. I’m so fortunate that every day I get to do work that I love, which has not always been possible.
We live in a world where there are so many people who are struggling to survive in their jobs and are just trying to get through the day. When you’re powering through the week, taking some time to pause is essential to refuel your energy and really take stock of what you’ve accomplished.
It used to be really hard for me as an entrepreneur to slow down and see everything that was going well in my business and truly celebrate that. Now I can open up my gratitude journal every time I need to pause in my business and reflect on my wins, my progress, and how grateful I am for them. I don’t think we do enough of this, especially as busy business owners hustling to get to the next level, to take time out to focus on gratitude. I recommend adding this template to a self-care business toolkit where every Friday at the end of a work week, you can reflect on what you’re grateful for.
All of these templates I mentioned above can be lifesavers for your business. Especially if the goal is to better streamline and organize the many moving parts of being self-employed. Remember, following your dreams will only be as successful as the structure you give it. Integrating these tools and templates will help ease the stress so you can focus on what you do best and thrive as a business owner.