For any aspiring entrepreneur, building a successful business plan can seem daunting. Many small businesses ask themselves: Do we really need a plan? Well, if you have a business or want to start a business, you NEED a business plan! “Winging it” never worked for any successful business. Even well-established businesses need a business plan, or need to drastically modify their business plan when the situation changes.
The first step to building your business plan is determining your goals and objectives for your business. Imagine where you want to be in a few years. Do you want to remain a small business, or are you more adventurous? Also, consider your personal goals and objectives. How much work are you willing to put into your business? Is this a business that will provide a livable income, or more of a hobby? What tasks and jobs are you willing to delegate to your employees?
Second, determine what you bring to the customer. What distinguishes your business from your competitor? You must come up with the key attributes of your business that will draw customers to you again and again. Without proper brand development and recognition, your customers will glaze over your website and you won’t have appropriate levels of business to sustain.
Third, consider your budget. How much money will you need to start up your business? Are you going to take out a business loan, or find investors? Do you want to allow investors in on your important business decisions? Also, consider what happens as your business changes and grows. How are you going to spend income? Are you going to re-invest in your business? Finally, how much income do you need to support your personal lifestyle?
When you have these essential elements, you can consider your business strategy. Basically, this is a plan of how you’re going to market, design, and operate your business. In any business plan, you will usually open with an Executive Summary and Business Description. After that, you get to the “meat” of your plan.
The third section of your business plan is your Marketing section. Consider your target audience and how large your customer base may become. Then, consider how you will reach your market (how feasible it is to actually contact your customer base). Will you use website only? Or perhaps television and paper mediums? This will help define your pricing, distribution, promotion and marketing methods. Once you have this section completed, you can see how you measure up with your competitors. You should aim to outperform and outlast your competitors, and draw their customers to your base.
The next two sections are the overall design and operations plan of your business. How will you design your business’ brand? What are your most visible attributes? Also, how many employees do you want, and how will your business flow? Will you delegate tasks or handle most of it yourself? A lot of this section is highly personal and gives you a chance to show your passion about your product or service.
Finally, you must come back to your finances and determine what is feasible for your business. Also, try to examine what your future financial goals will be as the market changes and your business grows.
With a business plan, you can ensure your business has a solid foundation in reality and what you can feasibly expect from your venture. This is essential to business success and will maximize your profits!