Every business needs a business plan.
Think of it as a game of chess - know the rules, the board, your opponent, and play to win.
Many entrepreneurs dread the thought of creating a business plan - so many of the templates & guidelines are complex & convoluted.
Yes, it can be daunting, but not if you follow this guide. You don't need a 50-page thesis - this guide covers the important aspects simply & effectively. If you have a high level of commitment, you can do this - check your level of commitment here.
Download the template here, and work with me as I guide you with the Actions.
After creating your plan, you'll have the What, When, Where, Who, Why, & How of your business. How soothing is that? This is what you need to progress your business goals with confidence.
Why you really do need a Business Plan
- As a guide to establish & grow your business
- To clarify your ideas & direction, and set your goals
- To share with others for feedback & input
- To formalise your thoughts & ideas
- To discover & solve potential problems
- To serve as tangible proof that you're serious about your business
- For investors / banks, if you decide to apply for funding.
What is your Product / Service?
- Retailer who creates value by mediating between the manufacturer & the consumer (buy in bulk, repackage into smaller volumes for sale, market the products, etc.)
- Information products creator who creates value by providing information & electronic forums for members to explore topics through interaction (eBook sellers, bloggers, membership site owners, etc.)
- Service provider who creates value by exchanging services for payment (barber, dry cleaner, therapist, coach, etc.)
- Essentially - what form does the thing take, that you sell?
- Action: create a description of your product / service in 140 characters or less.
What tools / materials (resources) do you need?
- Skilled people
- Action: create a list of what you need.
What partners will you involve, and what will they contribute?
- Business partner
- Marketing agency
- Shipping partner
- Supplier (services / products)
- Action: list your partner resources & contributions
Who will support you outside your business?
- Business Coach
- Mastermind Group
- Entrepreneurs Group
- Accountability Partner/Goup
- Action: list your support sources.
Who & where are your customers - how will you find them, how many are there?
- Consumers, or businesses
- Once-off buyers, or repeat clients
- Demographics - what age range(s), gender, lifestyles, income group(s), etc.
- Location - local, regional, national, international, global
- Special Interest Groups - joggers, card-players, beer-drinkers, science fiction readers
- Professions - lawyers, doctors, brick-layers, chefs, make-up artists
- Firmographics - if selling to businesses, the business types, ranges for their headcount, revenue ranges, product or service types
- How will you reach them - ask for referrals, pay for advertising, website, fliers, engage through public speaking events
- Action: Create a customer profile for your ideal customer(s), & how you plan to reach them. You may decide on different approaches for the different types or groups.
Who are your competitors, & how big is the market?
- Find out via Google / trade magazines / subscription sites / forums
- Government statistical data
- Research companies
- Action: list direct & indirect competitors, and note your point of difference - your Unique Selling Proposition (what you will compete on, for example quality, price, location, service, range, value, etc.)
What are your marketing opportunities?
- Sales affiliates
- Physical store
- Action: list your marketing opportunities.
What is your marketing plan?
- Price - how will you price your product / service
- Positioning - how does your product / service fit into the existing market
- Promotion - what channels will you use to attract & engage with customers
- Profit - what is your margin
- Place - what are your outlet(s)
- Action: List your price, positioning, promotion, profit, and place, with details.
Operations/Execution - who will do what, and when?
- Who will obtain or produce your product
- Who will deliver your service
- Who will invoice & handle payments & returns
- Who will handle the marketing & advertising
- Action: list all the operational activities with details, & assign a person to execute each one.
What is in Your financial plan?
- What is your required start-up capital
- Will you boot-strap, apply for funding, make a loan, or crowd-fund
- What is the cost of producing your product or service - materials, labour, time, manufacturing, distribution, shipping, etc.
- What are your business expenses - overheads, marketing, staff, travel, etc.
- Action: list your Capital Expenses (start-up costs, as well as once-off purchases of business assets), Fixed Costs (what you have to pay every month, whether you sell 1 or 100 units), and Variable Costs (costs related to each sale). Fixed Costs + Variable Costs = Business Costs.
- How much do you have to charge to earn a profit (business costs + your time costs = what you need to earn each month)
- Action: list your Fixed and Variable Costs + your Time costs to show your required income.
Do you know your Risks & Issues?
- What are the things to look out for
- What might happen to derail your business plan
- What may become a problem in future
- Action: list your Risks and Issues, with notes on how you plan to handle them.
How will you measure your ongoing success?
- Write down a goal and time-frame, for example, 100 repeat customers in 6 months' time, or $1,200 gross income per month by the end of the year, or 25,000 subscribers in 1 years' time, or 4 sales per week in 3 months' time, or 1 additional product in your portfolio in 3 month's time.
- Action: list your conditions for success within a specific time-frame, with some details; continue your forecast to 2 to 3 years.
Still with me? Good - now for your Action Plan!
- You now have a robust, executable Business Plan.
- Look at each section, and identify what actions you have to take to make it happen; for example, if you need product suppliers but don't have any yet, list an action in your Action Plan to "Source Suppliers", or if you want a website but don't have one yet, list "Source a Web Designer", et cetera. You get the idea.
- Go forth and Execute!