In the article “Creating a Successful Startup Business Plan,” featured on the Lincoln Journal Star’s website (and published in www. carwash.com), author Catherine Conlan shares information on how new businesses can thrive with well-written business plans.
A good plan will keep you focused on important goals and help keep you on message as you talk with potential investors, business partners, employees and customers,” writes Conlan in the article.
As noted in the article, here are some tips to consider when developing a plan for your new business:
- Realize your plan’s audience. Consider your audience before starting your plan. Understand who will be reading this business plan and the information that they need to know the most. Especially if you are not seeking outside funding, your plan can be as simple as a one page document.
- Do the research. Get to know your potential customers in the area as well as the surrounding competition. This knowledge can help you devise a strategic plan in many ways, including pricing, staff needs, marketing, etc. Use all of the resources available to you, including social media.
- Stick to the basics. Understand the important parts of a business plan, including an executive summary, financial statements, SWOT analysis, etc. and stick to that outline. Business plans are not a new concept and there are plenty of examples available on the internet and through business consultants to model your plan after.
- Revise often. Remember that your company’s business plan is a living document and should be revised on a regular basis. With ongoing modifications to your plan, you can ensure that your business is reaching its goals.
- Do Your Research: Market research should be part of the start-up business plan. This can be done by engaging in talks with potential customers to understand your niche in the marketplace.
By knowing the competition, one can address details of product development, future milestones, holes in the market and get better idea of the business growth potential. Social media is a great way to examine potential customers and competitors and get a handle on the market as a whole.
The plan must convey an understanding of an ideal customer and how to make money. Without these elements the plan is incomplete.
- Cover the Basics: In terms of format, “business plans start with an executive summary and end with the financial statements. In between, the document should address plans and expectations for marketing and sales, operations, staffing and so on.
Other important topics to include are goals for sales, market share, revenue, profit and its attainability; a plan for reaching those goals and data to back up your plan; supporting information about the organization and finally, the exit strategy.
- Expect to Revise Regularly: A business plan for start ups is a living document and tweaking and pivoting the business idea is a continual and iterative process.
Revisiting the plan at least once every six months or more often if your business hinges on new or changing technology is important