A business plan isn’t scary, it isn’t some complicated document that you need to dread, in fact when done properly, your business plan can be the single most important element to get your idea off the ground and turn it into a profitable business. Your business plan is a series of mini road maps that help structure your finances, marketing, sales projections and the day to day running of your business. It doesn’t matter whether you don’t need financial help or whether you’re asking your bank for a loan – every business needs a well thought out business plan.
Nothing Is Set In Stone
Your business plan is a map, it’s there to guide you and it’s not a strict set of rules that must be followed. If you find yourself being blown off course you can refer back and it will help you get back on track. As your plan is going to be initially written before you’ve even started your business it’s going to be adapted and amended as you go along. You cannot predict the future.
The first thing you need to do is make sure there’s a market for your new business and make sure you can feasibly turn a profit. You might have the best idea in the world but are people looking for it? Is someone already offering it for a better price than you can afford to offer or with a more comprehensive service? Preliminary market research doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, if you’re using social media like Facebook ask your friends if they’d be interested in your service or product and if so what they’d expect to pay. Find your friends with the biggest circle of friends and ask them to push it out to their friends. The trick is to keep your questions simple, concisely explain your product or service, ask them if they think there’s a market for it, if they’d be interest in purchasing it and what they’d expect to pay for it. This should give you enough of an indication as to whether you have a viable business idea and it will also supply you with a list of potential new clients.
Towards the start of your business plan you need to lay out your business objectives. This shouldn’t be a twenty page dissertation. It needs to be as short and to the point as possible but lay out what you expect to achieve and when you expect to achieve it by. You need to make sure you cover the finances (what you expect to make and what you expect to spend), the people and the operation side of things (who’s going to be working for your business, where are they/you going to be working, what fixed assets do you need to start up?) and the marketing and how you’re expecting to promote your new product/service. These cannot be wild predictions; they need to be backed up with as much solid evidence as possible especially if your business plan is ultimately going to help you secure funding.
Now you know what you want to achieve you need to think about how you can realistically do it. Who is going to do what? How much is it going to cost them? What training is going to be needed and where will the time and money for that come from? Ideally when starting a new business your time needs to be split into three sections, looking after your existing customers (this means the first ones through the door get a lot of your time and helps establish your high levels of customer service), the second third needs to go in finding new business (you can’t spend all your waking hours just looking for new clients, there are other important tasks that need to be done) and the final third needs to go on your business itself (things like the admin, balancing the books, training or reaching your new market and looking for new opportunities to push your product/service).
Jess writes for Teneric business plans where you can find help and guidance for almost any business.