O.K so you’ve set your initial goals, so now what?
If you already have a business idea… great! All you have to do is get to work, right?
Wrong! Most people who just take an idea and start out cold don’t last very long. You need to think carefully about your business – what you are going to sell, how you are going to sell it, who are you going to sell it to and how much for? Where will you get your supplies, how much will they cost, what other costs will you have? What records do you need to keep, will you need staff, what laws and regulations must you comply with? How much do you need to take out of the business to live on, how much do you need to put in to get it off the ground, how much do you need to retain in the business for future investment, how much do you need to keep back to pay taxes?
In other words, you need a plan ….. a Business Plan.
The Business Plan
There are four key sections of the business plan, they are:
In this first section you lay out a summary of your idea for the business, background information on how the idea came about and a resume of the key people involved in the business – showing skills and abilities matched to their roles within the business.
The Marketing Plan
Here you include all your market research information – in other words, what makes you think you have a market for what you will be selling, what competition is already out there, what makes you so different? You also need to set out details of your product (whether goods or services) including the features of the product, the benefits it gives to the buyer and the price. You should clearly state how you will identify possible customers and how you will promote the product to them, including your sales message (i.e.why should they buy?), the method you will use to transmit the message (i.e advertising method), how you propose to close the sale and keep the customer happy (customer service methods).
The Financial Plan
This is where you detail the specifics of how you will fund the business including; start-up costs, operating costs, marketing costs, production costs etc. It should inlude profit projections and cash flow projections for at least the first twelve months and preferably for three years.
The Operational Plan
How are you actually going to run the business? How many staff do you need?
How will you control quality?
What systems and processes will you use to ensure you keep everything on track?
If all of this looks very daunting, it can be! But getting it right will contribute greatly to the future success of your venture. To help you to put your plan together, I have included a skeleton business plan for you to simply fill in the relevant sections by answering key questions. You will find it in the downloads area of the resources section of the website.