Ah! The lure of entrepreneurship!
Being your own boss, working at your time, running your own business and creating your own brand… it is a wonderful dream and not one without challenges!
So where does one start?
If you are perhaps toying with a promising business idea, bouncing it off friends and your likely audience is a good start…. But have you converted your idea to something more tangible? Have you put it down on paper? Have you put together a Business Plan?
What is a Business Plan
It’s a document setting out the goals of the business, the methods/ strategies of attaining those goals and the time frame for the achievement of those goals. It also describes the nature of the business, background information of the organization and people involved, its financial projections, and the strategies that would be implemented to achieve the target.
Why is it Important to have a Business Plan?
For Your Funding Needs
Funding your brilliant ideas need investors – be it Private investors, Banks, Venture Capitalists or even Government Institutions. All of them would need to see a proper Business Plan to understand and analyse if your project is worth their investment. Hence a detailed Business Plan covering all financial and non-financial and growth related aspects of the business need to be presented for their consideration.
But apart from the obvious reason of selling your “promising” idea to investors as you seek funding from them, there are several other areas where you would feel the need and necessity of having a good Business Plan handy.
For Detailed Research and Exploration
A lot of new ideas can emerge and solidify into strategy once you get down to putting your plans on paper to create that Business Plan.
As you research and work on the various aspects of the business plan, delving deeper into opportunities or execution, there is likely to be more clarity and understanding of your strategies and the best way to implement them.
Thus building the plan allows you to have a better grasp of the resources required- be it human resources or materials and machinery needed for operations.
A detailed research of the market, the target audience and competition is also a part of the business plan. Having such data and information handy can be helpful in devising marketing strategies to catch the attention of the audience or pricing strategy that makes your product attractive without compromising on quality.
To Be Better Prepared
Spending time and effort on creating a good Business Plan basically prepares you better for facing potential problems and challenges that might come up as you get started. Such preparation can equip you better to deal with those challenges and roadblocks.
Business Plans can also sometimes be used very effectively as an internal document to align diverse teams and provide direction to employees within the business.
You think that your plan is awesome and will surely succeed. But do others think so too? Having a proper Business Plan will allow you to bounce your idea off others (and some of them may be people with experience and knowledge) and seek their honest feedback. In case the feedback that you receive is not all favourable, there is still time to reconsider and reorganise before you spend your precious time and money on the project.
Ways to build the plan
There is a lot of guidance and resources available over the internet that could come in handy while conceptualising and putting your business plans down on paper. However, the smarter and more efficient way to go about it is to use one of the software programmes available that can guide you step by step and help you create a Business Plan that works. They can help in all aspects ranging from developing the business idea to financial planning and marketing strategies.
The objective of these programmes is to create a plan based on your ideas that can get the business started, get funded and create a timeline for generating revenue for the business to take off.
Some of the more popular programs available on the net are LivePlan, BizPlan Builder, GoSmallBiz.com, Enloop etc. It really makes a lot of sense to check them out!
Most of these programs come for a small fee per month but considering the impact that using such software can have in terms of helping you build a comprehensive and effective business plan and the time you save is really worth the cost. Moreover, some of them even have a free trial period or throw in a money-back guarantee in case you are not satisfied with the outcome.
What to Include in the Business Plan
The business plan document should start off with a one page executive summary that would give the gist of your plan touching on critical points such as the purpose of the business plan, the nature and scope of the business along with a few financial projections. It must be an interesting read and be able to urge the reader to delve into further details.
The next section focuses on the opportunity, addressing questions like what problem you are trying to solve and the target audience and competition along with the projections about growth potential in the near to medium term.
More details of the actions that you would take to leverage the opportunities that you foresee, how you plan to reach the target audience, your pricing plans, sales and marketing strategies and how you plan to attain the projected growth is discussed in the Execution section.
Some details about the structure of the company and the management team, the founders and the key team members along with expansion and future hiring plans would also need to be spelt out in the company and management section. Highlighting how your company/ team is different from others and some data to support your claims can be impactful.
No business can run without a financial plan – so this is a very important piece to put together. Forecasts about sales and revenues and cash flows need to be disclosed along with the justification behind such projections. In case you are looking for investor interest, it is important to be able to clearly spell out how much money you are looking for, what it would be used for, and how you plan to pay back.
The final section of any Business Plan is usually the Appendix. All additional supporting and reference documents- be it product images or additional information on your competition could be put together in the Appendix.
A few pointers to keep in mind while creating your Business Plan….
- Do lots of research to create a good and effective plan
- Leverage one of the business plan building softwares available
- Use simple and clear language/ expressions while building the plan
- Be sure to identify your target audience and address their pain points
- Highlight what differentiates you from others and how your product is unique
- Be realistic about your financial achievements and goals
Preparing a Business Plan can be very helpful for any businesses as it starts off. It can be a good guiding force that the new entrepreneur can refer to when met with challenges in the early stages of growth.
However, writing a business plan need not be limited to the budding entrepreneur alone. Many running businesses can also benefit by revisiting and modifying their Business Plans according to the changing needs of the business over time.
So, if you have new plans, it’s time to formalize them into a Business Plan before you get started. Or even if you are already running an online store, you could always revisit it and take a fresh look as you and the business seek to reach new heights!
Once the Business Plan is ready, you could check out
for funding ideas.