Starting a business is exciting and can be a lot of fun, but it’s a big undertaking, and you have to take it seriously if you want your business to succeed. Once you’ve decided on a business idea, it’s time to make a plan. What do you want your business to DO? What are the goals you’ll have to reach along the way? Creating a business plan means defining clear objectives and building a strategy for accomplishing those objectives.
Things to think about:
The first thing you’ll find at the start of a business plan is an executive summary. The executive summary explains what your business is, what it will accomplish, and why it will be effective. You may also want to include information about your qualifications or motivations for starting the business.
Even though you want the executive summary to be the first part of your business plan, you should wait until you have everything else figured out before you write it: it’s the summary of the rest of your plan.
The company description part of your plan is where you talk about the market your business will be part of, how it’ll compete with other companies in the market, and your ideas of where you’d like your business to be in one, three, or five years.
Organization and Management
Here’s where you lay out the structure of the business. What are the departments? Who are the managers and what are their roles? What are the needs of each department?
An ideal organization and management structure will be well-defined, efficient, and include highly qualified staff.
Marketing & Sales Analysis
If you have a business in mind, you should already know what product or service you want to offer. Before moving into market analysis, make sure you have clearly defined your offering and make sure it’s in demand. Once you have that covered, identify the target demographic. Who is (or would be) the most interested in your product or service? How will you reach them?
Now that you know your target demographic, you’re ready to map out your marketing plan. What does the market currently look like? How will your business fit into that market? How will you reach your target demographic? Who are your competitors, and how will you win customers?
The financial plan might be the most critical part of your business plan. What do your finances look like today, and what are your short- and long-term financial goals? How will your business advance those goals?
This is an excellent place to examine your pricing structure (be sure to take into account possible changes that may happen in the next few years). Make sure you can cover your costs and that your rate is competitive.
How many customers will you need to start? What are the financial requirements of staying in business through the first year? When and how will you be able to grow your customer base and your revenue?
There’s a lot to consider when mapping out your business plan, but if you take it one step at a time, you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way.