If you’re really serious about making money with your new business, you must take the time to write a good business plan. A business plan is a roadmap that covers all the aspects of your business, and is vital if you’re planning on applying for a small business loan.
A business plan is also something which intimidates many new business owners who have no clue as to what to put in their business plan. Depending on the nature of your business, your business plan can be an elaborate write-up and analysis topping 100 pages, or it can be a narrative of 10 – 20 pages. What are 7 “must-haves” for your business plan?
1. Mission Statement
A mission statement is where you state your purpose for starting this business. Perhaps you’re starting a dog-treat bakery to sell home-made dog treats because you feel there are too many harmful additives put in pet food. Or, perhaps you’re starting a hypnotherapy practice because you strongly believe in the power of the mind to heal, change bad habits or increase motivation. Your mission statement doesn’t have to be long, but it does have to reflect your reasons for starting your business. If all you can think of is “I need to make money somehow,” then you might want to consider a different business.
2. Describe Your Business
This is where you describe in detail all the aspects of your business. Are you a service-oriented business (therapist, hair-stylist, consultant, etc.)? Do you sell products? Give a description of your products. Do you use a wholesaler or dropshipper? Do you manufacture the products yourself? What makes your business unique?
3. Short-term and Long-Term Goals
This is where you state your long- and short-term goals. For the short term you would list your goals for the next few months to a year. You might have as your goals finding a business name, applying for a business license, taking some SBA classes to learn more about running a business, securing office space, or whatever you might need to begin your business. You might also include the income you expect to earn in your first year of business. For your long-term goals you might want to pick a three-year to five-year goal. Your goals could include future product lines and any future marketing plans. It might include opening new stores, offices, or starting new websites.
4. Potential Customers
This is where you list who your customers will be. Who will buy your product? Who needs your services? What are they looking for? Why do they need your product? This helps you focus on the type of marketing you need for your customers.
5. Competition Analysis
This is where you analyze your competition. How can you know your chances for success if you don’t know what you’re facing in the way of competition? In the example of the hypnotherapy practice you would want to identify all the hypnotherapists in your area. You would also want to include psychotherapists or alternative-health professionals who may also appeal to your potential clients, as well as hypnosis CDs offered on the internet. This can help you spot the areas where the competition is less. For example, if you’re a hypnotherapist and find the competition is stiff for weight-loss or smoking cessation programs, try to find a niche which is less competitive.
6. Financial Analysis
It’s important you take a realistic look at your finances. You need to write down all the money you pay out each month for personal and expected business expenses, versus how much you realistically expect to bring in each month. Remember to list everything: ISP charges, computer upgrades, office rent, electricity, products to sell, housing, medical expenses, charge cards, etc. Make sure you will be able to afford the business and your current lifestyle. You may find that you will need a small business loan to cover your expenses until your business is able to pay all your expenses. Or, if your business is one you can start on a part-time basis, you may find it’s smart to take on a part-time job while building up your business, with the hopes of making your business full time in the future.
This is where you list all the places where you’ll be able to advertise or market your new business. This could include a blog, website, articles in newspapers, articles in online article sites, press releases, appearance on cable-access television, offering free presentations at local groups and organizations. Don’t overlook anything. You’d be amazed how much business you can get by giving a free presentation at a local homeowner’s association meeting or local chamber of commerce. Take advantage of local Toastmaster’s group for gaining experience in public speaking.
Be sure to refer to your business plan from time to time to make sure your business stays on track. It’s okay to make changes along the way as you find what works and what doesn’t work. If you are using your business plan for a business loan, you may want to hire a professional business plan writer who can review your plan before submitting to funding sources.