While it is tempting to dive right in when you have a great start up idea for a business, a solid business plan can be the difference between just an idea and a successful business. Failing to create a detailed business plan is where many entrepreneurs go wrong.
The importance of a good business plan can not be over-emphasized. It allows you to set goals and determine how to realistically measure them. In the process of creating one, you develop an understanding of your market and the competition that is based on facts, not just hopes.
Here are ten tips to help you get started with your business plan.
- Review The Competition
As an entrepreneur or company, you should not only center your business plan around your business. You would need to use your business plan to address the competition and how your idea differs positively from what is already existing. What can you do far better than your competition?
Next, you could talk to potential customers. Do they value what you are proposing to offer them as much as you think they do? You would need to sort these out importantly before moving on.
- Be Innovative
Your business plan should highlight ways in which your startup would be original and groundbreaking. Despite the competition, you would need to carve a niche for yourself out there. This sets you apart from others positively.
By making a conscious effort and making innovation a part of your business plan at the startup, it becomes a critical component, and hence intentional, which helps in the long run.
- A Plan B
While it is good to have a wonderful plan, there is no point sticking with a failing plan, especially when there is no contingency plan. You should also know when to draw the line and/or shift product focus. It is highly unlikely that your business plan will go according to the exact plan, hence the need for a contingency plan. This is especially true and important if your business operates on the Web or builds software.
- Prepare For Success
“When I started my business, I was in no way prepared for the success and level of growth we obtained”, said Elle Kaplan, CEO of LexION Capital Management. “I should have planned bigger and prepared for faster growth versus being surprised and having to rework my plan”.
You should also prepare for unexpected success. Your business plan should account for those scenarios.
- Social Media
No business plan should be without a section dedicated to the use of social media as part of their marketing efforts and channel for advertising. Social media remains a dominant force in marketing and customer engagement and a business plan needs to highlight how the company will use social media to its strategic advantage.
A good and effective business plan needs to look beyond the normal way that companies generally view customers. A typical business plan would discuss the company’s target market usually in terms of demographic information such as age, gender, location and income level. However, businesses should consider looking even further to define their customers by factors such as lifestyle, needs, desires, and even customer values. This makes advertising even more effective and the target market more predictable.
- Efficient Employees
If a business is going to have employees, it must make sure that they have good knowledge of the business technicalities, as well as the skills required to be as effective as expected.
As a business owner, you would also want to spell out how you are going to keep them engaged and focused on their responsibilities. You must also show them that their well being aligns with that of the company. You could also spell out rewards for meeting some established metrics for everyone’s performance.
Often times, after drawing up a wonderful business plan, most companies and business owners have the tendency to just go back to doing things the way they have always done them. One of the key challenges for businesses is actually implementing their plan. Every business plan should include a guide to implementing the ideas in the business plan.
Every business or company has to ensure that the work force sticks to the plan. Working out a good business plan will not be of any effect or do much good if the companies and employees are not committed to following the points included in the business plan.
Many organizations fail to achieve their goals because of a lack of understanding and buy-in to the plan. The business plan should include a signed commitment by the leadership team. This is effective in the sense that it ensures that the leaders understand and will support the business plan.