it's saturday! while most normal people have saturdays off, entrepreneurs know there is no such thing as a day off! anyways, who wants to be normal?!so let's get down to business...if you're already in business or just starting out, you'll have heard chatter about how important business plans are. you'll likely have heard the comparison to a road map. it's a good one that's why it's used so often.who needs a business plan?
* financial institutes require a formal business plan before they invest in your company
- short answer: everyone wanting to succeed in business! *
- long answer: everyone who wants to reach their goals on a reasonable timeline and budget and measures business success by how large the profit margin is. *the plan really is like a road map. i live in canada and if i wanted to get to florida, i could probably do it without a map but i would spend a lot on gas, probably have to ask a lot of people for directions and it would take a lot longer to get there. that actually sounds like a nice vacation to me and i'd be happy to run a business like that but it's much less secure and the bank doesn't want my illustrations as payment for the mortgage! i don't understand why!with a road map, i could find the most efficient way to get there saving on gas, hassle and time (and the bank is happier). this is what a business plan does for the business. it shows you clearly the route you should take... now the downside of this realization is that you are the one who has to draw the map! the upside is that you can draw new roads and find secret bridges too!getting startedyou'll need to have a clear vision and some solid goals before you start. admittedly writing the business plan is daunting and i found making myself notes in a journal helped a lot. once i started writing i had to refer to my notes to remember what the heck i was doing!start by keeping these questions in mind:
- why did i choose this business?
- what do i want to accomplish with my business in the first 2 years?
- what opportunities or needs can my company address?
- who is drawn to my company? what makes them tick?
- who are my competitors and what makes me different from them?
- who do i need to include to make my vision work?
- is my industry in an upswing or downswing? (gaining in popularity or fading out)
- where can i advertise to reach my customers?
- how will i pay for all of this?the business plan puts a lot into perspective when it's all on paper. this is the most valuable part of this tool in my opinion. once you've completed it, you'll see exactly where you stand within the competition, how you differ, who purchases from you, how much you'll have to sell to break even, what your best advertising options are and more.while researching and writing your business plan, you'll become hyper aware of your competition and target market. don't let your findings discourage you - use this to your advantage! stepping out of our comfort zones lets us see missed opportunities left by others content in their comfort zone. keep moving forward and never get too comfy!in the coming weeks we'll break down each section and i'll share my results and journey with you. that's why i've been a bit behind in blogging... i'm about 3/4 of the way through and it's been tough but a great learning experience. i hope to benefit grately from it!