A business plan is a great starting component to your new business venture. It can help provide direction and be a valuable insight for potential clientele and your target audience in to who you are and your business.
So, what is a business plan?
A business plan is a formal but living document of your business' goals and plans for reaching those goals, including descriptions on how you plan to achieve the endgame.
Some people consider this the roadmap to success for a business or organization. If you also consider it a roadmap, then how would you layout your map? Each business plan is unique and comparing one to another is simply unproductive; what one business' journey to success looks like might not be the same for everyone. Keep this in mind as you think about your resources, your dreams, and even your support system.
Now, let's get started!
The layout of a formal business plan:
- Company Description
- Market Analysis
- Organization & Management
- Service or Product Line
- Marketing & Sales Strategy
- Funding Request
- Financial Projections
- Executive Summary
Some of these steps can be skipped for informal businesses, particularly those that are online, freelance, or work from home -- most especially if you are not needing investors. These steps that you can skip are numbers 6 and 7 and therefore are not included in the workbook. If you are needing investors, I have included resources in the workbook that you might find helpful in order to include these components of the business plan.
Steps 1-5 and 8 remain as essential for any business plan and are the focus of today's post and the free workbook that is included. Step 9 is primarily for those that need investors and are proving their worth to potential investors using graphs, tables, etc to support steps 6 and 7.
Things to Keep in Mind When Creating Your Business Plan
Your business plan needs to be realistic. You're trying to determine how you will logistically, financially, and resourcefully make your business successful. Therefore, not only do you need to set realistic goals and realistic points, you also need to be specifics. How are you going to market to your customers? How will you finance you operations? How will you even define success?
Being honest about weakness, your competition and their successes, and any obstacles is important for you to identify. By taking a good hard look at these things, you can create strategies to sidestep or overcome them.
Example: you own a woodworking shop and have a limited budget but you have a good amount of time and pretty decent photography skills. This means marketing will be super easy for you because you will take attractive pictures of your products and can market the crap out of them on social media and other avenues like blogs, Etsy, Cartel, Shopify, etc.
Think big or go home.
What if you do end up being super successful? How will you manage it? If you're that woodworking shop, how will manage the influx of orders from all that wicked awesome marketing you did? Don't forget to think about next steps.
Now, why call a business plan "living"?
Because it's suppose to change and grow as your business changes and grows! What marketing strategy worked for you last year might not work for you this year -- especially as there are major paradigm shifts in business and marketing trends. How you logistically keep up with orders and goods will also change as the price market changes or as your process changes even by your own doing.
Therefore, it's important to revisit your business plan periodically just to stay on point with your businesses' current present and future path.
What's in the workbook?
We have outlined on eight pages steps 1-5 and 8 with prompts to help guide you as you create your own business plan. We also help guide you with your marketing and sales strategy. As aforementioned, there are also resources provided should you need to work on steps 6 and 7.