Creating a business plan is one of the first steps in starting your own small business, but it doesn’t have to be an arduous process! This step-by-step guide will walk you through how to create a business plan and cover everything from how to make your budget to how to use your goals and metrics to evaluate whether your business is succeeding or failing over time. Best of all, the whole process can be completed in just seven steps!
7 Steps to creating a business plan for your small business
Define your business
The first step of the process is defining your business. What does it do? Who does it serve? Who are its competitors? These are important questions to ask and answer before moving forward. A simple way to define a product or service is asking Who am I? For instance, if you’re opening up a dog walking service, then the answers would be I’m the person who walks dogs. The next question to answer is, What problem am I solving? For example: If someone needs their pet taken care of while they’re away during the day, but they don’t have time to do it themselves. Step 1 – Define your business. Step 2 – Estimate how much it costs to run your business in one year. Step 3 – Create a rough draft of what the final plan will look like. Step 4 – Write about what investors might want from you when reviewing your proposal. Step 5- Determine which kind of organizational structure best suits the needs of your company (i.e., LLC, C Corp., etc.). Step 6- Fill out all legal documents needed for registration with state authorities as well as federal authorities (i.e., IRS).
Do your research
Knowledge is power and it can also be the difference between success and failure. You need to do your research before taking any action related to starting a new business or making changes in an existing one. Do you know what your target market wants? What’s their price point? Who are they? How do they use the product or service you’re trying to sell them? These are all questions that need answers before going ahead with any of these steps, and the more thoughtfully you answer them, the easier it will be. The first question would be Who is my audience? It sounds like a simple question but when it comes down to targeting demographics, this question may not be as straightforward as you think. For example, if I wanted to create marketing material for people who have just had children, I would want to ask myself questions like: What do these people want right now?, Where do they get information on products? and What channels are they most likely looking at?. Do your research before deciding on who your audience is!
Write a mission statement
A mission statement is the fundamental document that defines the organization’s goals, values, and what it hopes to accomplish. The purpose of this statement is twofold: first, it will help you make decisions as you build your company. Second, it will help you attract and retain employees who share these goals and values. Below are seven steps on how to write a mission statement that helps you achieve both of these purposes. 1) Define Your Company Goals Write down the five-year goals of your company. These should be ambitious yet achievable – in other words, they should not be too easy or too difficult for your company to do within five years’ time. And remember: there are no wrong answers here!
Set goals and objectives
- Set goals and objectives. What are you setting out to do? What is the purpose of this business?2. Prepare your company’s story. Who are you, what do you stand for, and what’s the difference between you and others in the same industry?3. Choose a name that tells your story and that people will remember! 4. Craft an elevator pitch – a short speech that tells your story in 30 seconds or less 5. Define your target audience 6. Identify 3-5 key success factors: what will make this company successful 7. Create an operations manual 1. Set goals and objectives. 2. Determine costs of goods sold 3. Develop time frame and timetable (estimate) 4. Evaluate risks/opportunities 5. Update marketing strategy 6. Create financial forecast
There are 7 steps to developing strategies:
Step 1. Sit down and brainstorm all the reasons why you want to create this business. What are the goals? What is this business going to do? How will it make money? Who is going to work on it with you? What skills does your team have and what do you need help with (e.g., graphic design, accounting)? Where will the office be located?
Step 2. Create a mission statement that clearly describes what your company does and who it is for.
Step 3. Develop an elevator pitch that communicates the key points about your company in just 30 seconds or less, which can be used when promoting the company or when people ask what it does. Develop a written marketing strategy so everyone on the team knows how they should market the company online, at trade shows, etc. Develop brand guidelines so everyone has a unified voice in social media posts, email blasts and more.
Develop strategy documents that include clear plans for revenue streams, budgets, growth targets and more.
Create a financial plan
It’s important that you create a financial plan before you start the business. Your first step is going to be determining how much money is needed and when it needs to be raised. You’ll also need to figure out how much revenue you will need in order to break even. This can seem like an overwhelming task, but it will be worth the time and effort put into it. A good idea would be putting together a list of all expenses, including fixed costs such as rent, utilities, insurance and other costs that are not dependent on how many products are sold like advertising or marketing materials. Once you have created the list, evaluate them in order of importance and determine whether they can be reduced or eliminated altogether. For example, if you don’t use any form of advertisement and there isn’t any possible way to cut back on the rent, these should be items which require most attention during this phase.
Put it all together
Now that you have all the pieces, it’s time to put it all together. Create an executive summary and introduction. Outline your company description and mission statement (what is the main purpose of the company?). Write out your goals, objectives and strategies. Outline what you will be selling or providing, pricing strategy, competition analysis, marketing strategy (if any), channels of distribution (distribution channels), and sustainability. Finally, create a marketing plan that includes steps for maintaining an ongoing marketing campaign and outlines all necessary costs including startup capital. It also helps to map out a timeline so you know when certain tasks need to be completed by in order to meet deadlines. Put it all together in one comprehensive document and make sure each area addresses specific needs related to managing and running your new company successfully.
In conclusion, there are seven steps that you can take in order to create and finalize your own business plan. You can do this by thoroughly thinking about what you want the company’s products or services to be. You can also think about how much money it will cost and how much you’ll need to raise. After all of this has been done, it is important that you have a firm idea of the strategies and tactics that the company will use for their marketing. The other essential part of any business plan is the financial forecast which provides an overview of where any earnings or losses are going. Finally, once everything has been put together on paper then it is time for revisions and edits so as not to miss anything before presenting it!