The biggest issue most entrepreneurs face when planning their business is where to start. There are so many different aspects of running a business that some prospective entrepreneurs just don’t know where to begin. So they don’t! Or they start and quickly get overwhelmed and end up back at square one. That’s where building a solid business plan comes in. “Failing to plan is planning to fail”—heed the advice from this old saying and you can leave the failing to the ones who don’t plan!
The task of organizing your thoughts and information doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as you think. Grab your keys and head to your local office supply store to start your journey of organization. All you need is a large binder and some tabs for dividing your information and you’re well on your way to starting your business!
There are so many things to consider within the planning process of your business that the binder system is very helpful. You will literally be keeping “tabs” on your competitors, your target market, your pricing, your advertising, your anticipated monthly expenditures, and so on.
Seek out the professionals
You don’t have to be an expert in every field; you just need to know an expert in every field. Not familiar with business plans? Find a business start-up advisor who is! Struggle with numbers? Find an accountant who doesn’t! It’s better to have an expert’s advice than to learn things the hard way. Sometimes trying to take on things outside of your professional skill level can add time constraints to your start-up or, worse, give rise to legal issues that you may have overlooked by not consulting a professional to begin with.
It’s time to begin piecing your business plan together. Working through that plan provides your business with the necessary tools to do much more than just obtain funding for your journey. It provides a means of measuring your business success along the way.
Identify your target market
Evaluate your target market. Who are your potential customers? What products and services are they looking for? Your target market will help you narrow down what will make your business successful, such as how much these individuals or groups are willing to spend and what your best advertising strategy will be in order to target your market. For example, Facebook ads may be appropriate for some groups, but brochures or newspaper ads may be a more direct point of contact for others. If you don’t spend the time upfront to really analyze your market, you could spend countless dollars and hours reaching out to the wrong audience.
Analyze your competition
You need to identify your competitors and create a contingency plan that will work best for the risks they pose. You may consider a competitive pricing structure and look at advertising strategies that work best for similar businesses. Most importantly, you can use this vital information to help find ways to create a unique, stand-alone business model that has little to no competitive impact on similar businesses.
Prepare your financials
Don’t let preparing your financials intimidate you, because you have already done most of the work. By using the pricing strategy you have compiled within your marketing plan, you are now able to confidently estimate your sales projections. And by forecasting how much you will spend in variable and fixed costs throughout the year, you will know where your expenses lie. These two factors can help chart just how your first few years will roll out. You are now sitting in the driver’s seat! Once you do the math on your dream plan, you will be well equipped to launch your business.