Having a great business idea is exciting, and you begin to daydream about this idea flourishing as a profitable and popular business. But before all that can happen, you need a solid business plan.
According to the US Small Business Association, having a business plan is central to how you start, grow, and sustain your business. Creating your new business plan takes work, research, and more work and research. Once the plan is in place, however, the chances of your business idea flourishing as you imagined is more likely.
In this post, let’s take a look at the five steps you need to follow in order to create a great business plan for your great business future.
Research the industry, your competitors, and your customers
You need to know the ins and outs of the industry you are entering, what competitors do, and what customers expect. This research should be as detailed as possible. Document experiences and interviews from leaders in the industry. Go to your competitors and analyse their services, what they do well, and where you think you can improve. Finally, read review websites for customer experiences. All of these things will help build the groundwork for your business because you will know the direction to head.
Build a strategy from your research
After your research, you can devise a business strategy. How will your products and services differ from others in the industry? How will you approach customer service? You also want to consider marketing, operations, hiring, and investments for the next five years of your business.
Take note that this strategy may need to evolve over time as your business gets rolling, so do not be hesitant to make alterations to your business strategy.
Calculate all expenses
Now you can get out the calculator and calculate all costs related to your business. Sketch out your current financial situation, you projected costs, investments, and overheads. Put these into a financial model that can produce a first-year cash flow statement for you. This will give you a fair idea of how your first year of business will go.
Put it all to paper
You have done the research, devised a strategy, and calculated the costs. Now it is time to put it all together in an official, but still draft, business plan. This is the fun part of the business planning process, since you can put all that hard work from earlier into a document with your personal touch and which displays your dream.
Revise and redraft when necessary
After drafting the business plan, let it sit for a little while before revisiting it for revisions. You have put in a lot of work thus far, so give yourself some time to rest. You always want to do revisions with a fresh mind.
Fix wordings that may be confusing, redundant, or irrelevant to your business plan — you want to make sure your business plan focuses entirely on what you plan to do and achieve. Then, go through and fix any grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes. A professional business plan ought to read like a professional document.