If you have a business great idea that you are passionate about and you dream of being your own boss, then before you take the leap to pursue your dreams, you want to ensure you've laid out an initial plan to build a successful business.
"When it comes to your business, you can't achieve any success without some type of plan."
This means documenting your idea in detail by creating an initial business plan before you quit your job (steady consistent source of income), and before you commit to investing any of your hard earned money or spending any of your precious time executing your new business idea.
Doing this exercise will help you begin your research, determine what it will take to set up and give you a rough idea of what it will cost. Creating a business plan will also help you document your ideas to share with your mentors or inner circle group of like-minded people to give you feedback. This will help you really think through whether your business idea is worth pursuing or not.
If you are in the process of starting a business or have already started a business and do not have a business plan, you need to create one now. Having this plan is essentially your roadmap and when it comes to your business, you can't achieve success without some type of plan.
The best part of it all? It costs you nothing but a few hours of your time to get started. Below are some topics that you should include and some questions to get you thinking as you create your business plan.
Keep in mind that your business plan doesn't have to be a 100-page document, you just need to make sure you properly lay out what it is you are trying to accomplish and do any necessary work to fill in the gaps around the questions you are unable to answer immediately. Basically, you want to get clear on your idea.
Some key things to consider including in your business plan and questions to ask yourself in each section of your plan include:
The executive summary
- What is your business intent, what is your business about?
- What gap does it bridge?
- What problem does it solve?
- Why is your business needed?
** This section, usually a one-pager, will be easiest for you to complete once you've built out the main sections of your business plan highlighted below.
Your target audience & avatar
- Who is your general target audience?
- Where are they located?
- What are their age and income?
- What will make them interested in your business?
- Why should they buy from you?
- Who is your ideal client (avatar)? What do you know about them? How will you attract them?
Products and services
- What products and services will you offer?
- Are your products and services inline with the problem you created your business to solve?
- How will you price your products/services?
- Where do you plan to offer them for sale?
Operations & business model
- How do you intend to run your business?
- How do you intend to structure your business - Sole proprietorship? Partnership? LLC? Corporation?
- Who do you need on your team?
- What account types do you need?
- Where is your competition located?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
- What is their current selling point?
- How can you differentiate yourself from them
- How can you make your offering better than theirs?
Start-up Costs and financing
- What are your initial costs? i.e. Business registration fees, branding costs, website development costs, product research, product investment etc
- What are your operating costs?
- What is your source of funding? Do you need investors?
- Are you prepared to spend the time and money required to get your business off its feet?
- How soon do you intend to turn a profit?
- Have you calculated your break even?
Marketing and advertising plan:
- How do you intend to market your product?
- What avenues will you pursue?
- What outcomes are you hoping to gain from your marketing efforts?
Other elements to consider
- Do you need to get any training or certifications in order to run your business?
- Where do you see your business in 12 months, 3 years? 5 years?
- What kind of help will you need to hire?
Keep in mind, your initial business plan will be fluid and will possibly change - a lot. As you put your ideas on paper and as your business comes to life, you may start to realize other factors, and better determine what you want and don't want in your business or come up with completely new ideas.
Taking this first step and drafting your initial plan will give you some great insights and get you on the path to small business ownership.
Having a solid business plan is essential to the success of your business - Failing to plan is like planning to fail so it's important that you start your plan today.