Start With A Business Plan.
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What is a Business Plan and Why Do You Need One?
When many of my clients first think of writing a business plan, they envision a long, extensively detailed document with masses of data and financial forecasts. While that may be the requirement for people seeking outside funding, a startup business plan doesn’t have to be that complicated to be effective. Think of it as a blueprint for how you intend to build your dream business, so the plan can be as detailed or simple as you need, depending on the complexity of your business. By mapping out your goals, action plans, and financials, you will significantly increase your chances for success.
Why create a business plan?
The most common use for a business plan is for new and existing businesses to get funding from a bank or loan organization. But regardless of if you intend to raise capitol or only operate your new business from your pocket a business plan is a critical first step. [G3] I tell my clients to think of it as if they are planning a vacation. First, you need to have an idea of where you want to go; then you need to determine how much money you will need. Once you've completed these two critical steps, you should then start deciding what you will need to pack, along with other pertinent details. Could imagine thinking you wanted to spend a few weeks in Maui on the beach but instead the flight took you to Wyoming, and when you unpacked your suitcase you have Bermuda shorts and a swimsuit to wear in the 30 below temps?
Sounds crazy but no more crazy than launching a business with no plan of how what, or where.
I personally revise our business plan annually to get organized for the next year. It's a way of taking stock of progress, examining what's working, and laying out goals and plans for the year to come. Almost all very successful business owners will tell you that they create business goals and action plans on a regular basis, sometimes as often as once a month since markets can change quickly.
So if you are considering starting a new business or finding that your current business is off track, a business plan will help you become more strategic, stronger, and more profitable.
What are the key components of a business plan?
Most business plans comprise of the following parts. If you are creating a proposal for a business loan, you'll need more precise requirements. But for small business planning purposes, these components should be sufficient.
1. Description of your business model and target market.
What kind of business are you implementing and who are your target customers?
2. Unique Value Proposition.
What do you have to offer that makes you different from everyone else? Why should people buy from you?
3. Business goals.
What are your specific, measurable goals that you want to achieve and when?
4. Marketing Plan.
What marketing strategies will you put in place and what is their timeline?
5. Action Plan.
What are the tasks you need to complete and when?
6. Financial forecast and budget.
How much is all of this going to cost on a monthly basis, and what kind of revenue do you expect? How long will it take to break even and make a profit?
When should you create a business plan?
A business plan is a living, breathing document that will grow and change along with your business. When first starting a new business, your business plan helps determine if you have a sound, financially viable idea. At the beginning of each year, it helps you to plan out your goals and strategies.
However, remember that you need to revisit your business plan regularly. As market conditions shift, laws or regulations change, or you don't see the results you expected, it's time to adjust your plan. Use it as your road map and refer to it often as you plan each week, but don't let it restrict you.
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