Business planning is an on-going process and will continue in various forms after the start-up phase.
When you first launch a business, you need to prove your idea’s feasibility. Feasibility refers to analyzing the ways you will achieve success given your current resources and capabilities.
A typical feasibility study describe your objectives, research, opportunities, risks and expected financial performance within a certain time frame.
Prove you can both execute the idea and sell your product or service to the point of profit. This will serve as a strong base for your first business plan.
Begin the planning process by reviewing what you are good at and what you love to do. Start a business in an industry that you are passionate and have a basic understanding of. Evaluate your access to these three main resource types:
- Time: How much time do you have to dedicate to the business per week? What other priorities do you have?
- Money: Do you have access to cash savings? What is your credit rating? How much personal spending can you cut back on for the sake of your startup?
- Knowledge: Review your knowledge and experience. What value are you adding to the industry? Who will support the execution and maintenance of the business? Who is on your team? Your team may refer to formal employees, friends and family who volunteer their time, sub-contractors, mentors, coaches, and professional service providers.
Next, contact Square One for research reports relative to your idea. Learn more about research report access here. Organize your research so that a reader will be convinced of the problem you are solving or the opportunity available.
Now, develop 2-3 specific, measurable long term business goals. Examples include:
- Achieving a particular revenue, customer or unit sales level in your first (or second, or third) year of business
- Opening a particular location or releasing a particular product
- Hiring a team or securing financing
Finally, develop strategies and customize your plan. Typical business plans and proposals include the following sections:
- Executive Summary
- Business Introduction & Description
- Market Analysis
- Marketing Strategy
- Human Resources Strategy
- Operations Strategy
- Financial Projections
- Exit or Succession Plan
Ensure you are providing relevant, accurate information. Think about who will read your business plan. Are you seeking external financing or simply want to share a vision with your business partner?
Furthermore, think about how you meet industry expectations. Service-based businesses may need to include service standards or booking systems, whereas manufacturing businesses may need to include a detailed floor plan or safety protocols.
Your business plan should have key document elements such as a cover page that reflects your company’s brand, a table of contents, page numbers, and an appendix for images or diagrams. Your plan could also include a statement of confidentiality or a non-disclosure agreement.