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9 Simple Questions to Start Your Own Business

The Afternoon Business Plan

Since leaving my job 5 years ago, I’ve had numerous coffees and phone calls with people who are looking to break out on their own. They range from people wanting to do side hustles, businesses to support a lifestyle, and some who are ready to grow an empire.

I found myself asking similar questions in each meeting so I created this guide to help you write out a business plan without feeling overwhelmed. It’s simple, yet when completed, you should have a good story to tell.

I call this “The Afternoon Business Plan” because this is meant to be completed in an afternoon. If you can’t answer these questions during that time, you’re not ready yet. The questions are simple so use the white space to write your ideas.

Make a day of this! Eat breakfast at your favorite cafe, take a walk in your favorite neighborhood or a new one for inspiration, listen to your favorite podcast, and warm up your creative mind. Even better - come work on this with me as your guide in Lisbon, Portugal during a Workbreaker experience!

Hope this helps and good luck!


1. What do you want to do?

2. Who are your customers?


Emily Chen

“Find an underserved market you are passionate about serving. Take the time to talk to them, tailor your offerings, services towards supporting them the best you can. 

The business development and everything else will really take care of itself when you niche down, do good work and say No to the wrong projects so the right projects can find you. The more crowded the market, the better it is to become an expert in a certain area. 

Finally join or build a community of clients and complimentary service providers who you care about and can support each other — with referrals, advice, etc. No one really makes it alone. 

Emily Chen, United States

Founder, EMC Studio

Sylvia Cardim De Melo

“I started a branding agency, which isn’t a new concept or a disruptive idea. However, when I created it, I wanted to make sure I focused on the “why”, for myself and my clients. It’s easy to get stuck on what we don’t have, instead, focus on the opportunity of why you deserve to exist and build your brand anchored on that.”

Sylvia Cardim De Melo, Brazil

Founder, Strawberry Brand Studio

3. What makes you unique?

Abundance is everywhere! Don’t stress out about being the only one that does what you do. You don’t have to be the next Netflix or Uber. If you’re a designer, a fitness trainer, or business consultant tell us what makes you different enough that someone will want to hire you.

4. What problem are you solving?

5. How will you make money?

6. Do people know who you are?

Dan Phan

In other words, how big is your network? Do you have a big social media following or will you have to spend money on marketing? If you were to announce today that you’ve launched a business, how will people find out about you? As a business owner, your most valuable asset is your network.

“I spend at least one hour each day on LinkedIn responding to messages, creating my own content, and building my network. My marketing budget is limited, so marketing myself as a subject matter expert in my field is a way to create conversations with potential customers and no cost.”

Dan Phan, United States

Founder, Workbreaker

The power of brand: Let’s get one thing straight: when people say “your brand” they really mean “your reputation”. Think about how people will feel after reading your social media posts, meeting you in person, visiting your website, and buying your product.

Your brand isn’t just your logo. It’s how they feel about you with every interaction. Think about people that you admire and brands that you trust. Do what they do.

7. Who will help you?

8. How will you finance your business?

9. What aren't you willing to sacrifice?

Jené Roestorf

“Be clear with what is non-negotiable in your life. Start with what you value, whether that be family time, your home, or lifestyle. When you define what’s important to you, you’re able to say yes to things that matter.”

Jené Roestorf, South Africa

Founder, Luxe Botanics

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