Starting a new business is a daunting process ? especially when you?re doing it alone. Drafting a business plan will allow you to work through incomplete ideas, identify and address areas you may not have considered yet, create a map so you know what to do next, and increase credibility for bank loans or investor funding.
While you may think you?ve got your business concept down pat, going from a concept in your mind to ideas jotted down on a napkin to actually running your business isn?t as easy as it might seem. Many people get so caught up on how to start the process that the business itself never materializes.
Following this solid eight point plan, based on guidelines from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), will help you get down to business, literally:
1. Executive Summary. The executive summary is a snapshot of your business plan as a whole and touches on your company profile and goals. This summary is often developed as you complete each of the remaining seven points to your plan.
2. Company Description. The company description provides information on what you do, what differentiates your business from others, and the markets your business serves.
3. Market Analysis. Before launching your business, it is essential for you to research the industry, market, and competitors. What?s working and what?s not working for your competitors? How will you distinguish yourself? Is there anyone else in your market? If not, there may not be money to be made.
4. Organization & Management. Every business is structured differently, so it?s important to understand how your company will be organized and managed. What entity will you use? Who?s in charge of what, when? What kind of business succession plan needs to be put in place?
5. Service or Product Line. Tell the story about your product or service. Describe what you sell and how it will bring value to your potential customers.
6. Marketing & Sales. Describe how you plan to market your business and explain your general sales strategy.
7. Funding Request. If you are seeking funding for your business, make sure to include everything asked for in the plan. Any omissions may put your request at the bottom of the pile, or worse yet, in the garbage can.
8. Financial Projections. Providing financial projections to back up your funding request is critical. Find out what information you need to include in your financial projections for the bank or angel investor.
It?s likely that you may not even know the answers to these questions. That?s okay. We can help you to refine your goals, map out your plan, and provide the kinds of details needed to make your venture a success.
Are You Prepared to Include the ?Wow? Factor?
You may think your business plan is great; but don?t forget that most people think the same of their own business. The Wow Factor becomes especially important when you?re all competing for funding.
Make sure your plan has a ?Wow? factor by:
? Explaining in very clear terms why your business plan is unique;
? Being clear about what you have to offer that?s different from your competitors (skills, experiences, relationships, etc.); and
? Defining how your business caters to a unique niche in the market, which areas are being ignored and what potential opportunities exist for your business going forward.
The bottom line is that you want to make your business plan stand out far above the rest – your plan needs to be well thought out, organized, and unique. Even if you don?t need outside funding, complete the business plan so you have a roadmap and the knowledge that you haven?t missed an important consideration.
Let?s Continue This Conversation
If drafting business plans is something you haven?t done before, the task may feel daunting and you may be tempted to jump ahead. Don?t. I?m happy to help you think through the process and develop a strong business plan. More importantly, I can work with you to make sure you have protections in place so that your business gets off to the right start. And, even if you?re already knee deep in your business, I?ll help you get all of your ducks in a row. Give me a call or shoot me an email so we can get you on my calendar.