Entrepreneurs can write a business plan in just 10 simple steps. This critical step doesn’t need to be complicated, but it is worth your time. No matter what type of business you are starting, each section of your business plan ensures you are aligned and productive, and planning to achieve your new business goals!
Your business plan is your blueprint for success. No matter how small your business is or how detailed your concept is, if you are starting a business, create the plan. How Entrepreneurs Write A Business Plan walks you through how to create your plan in just 10 simple steps, covering these areas of your business:
Elements of a Business Plan
· Executive summary
· Target Market
· Sales & Marketing
· Financial Plan
The business planning process is necessary but should not be stressful or overwhelming. Use our template, someone else’s or create your own. You do not need a complicated form. You do not need to spend money. You need 30 minutes of your time.
You can jump right in and capture details, or start with a simple list, but create your plan. Ensure your priorities, your productivity, and your personal development are all in alignment. Your daily priorities – your reason to get up and go to work – all stem from your plan.
The definition of business plan: A business plan is a document defining a company’s objectives, and how it will achieve them. In your case, it’s Your company’s objectives and how YOU will achieve them.
How? We’ll get to that. But know right off the bat: A failure to plan is planning to fail.
DO NOT accept this fact when it’s too late. You’ve heard the sayings, “you don’t know what you didn’t know,” and “hindsight is 20/20.” Old sayings are sayings for a reason. Learning the hard way wastes a lot of time.
How much detail and fact you have to work with depends upon where you are in the development of your product or service. An entrepreneur just starting out may have some details to work with, though much of the plan will be expected – or predicted. A good business plan changes over time. You don’t need to have an existing business or cash flow in order to write your plan.
You will make some assumptions. It’s fine. You need to.
It’s your dream business. Your products and services are needed by consumers, right?
Consider the type of business, your business description, business goals, your projections,
and write a business plan.
“Today is your opportunity to build the tomorrow you want.”
– Ken Poirot
STEP 1: PREPLAN
Preplanning is an actual step where you, as the business owner, take the time to consider and think! You need to understand the necessity of having a plan. Know what you want to include. Gather your thoughts, gather your details, and buy in. Know where you are going.
As you write your business plan, you’ll notice how the sections relate and intertwine. You can change it up however you want, whenever you want.
- Steps 2-10 are suggested. However, if you prefer to add a summary of who makes up your company as step 3, as part of the executive summary, or as part of the opportunity and eliminate step 9, do it!
This is YOUR company. This is YOUR plan.
As a successful entrepreneur, your business plan captures your reality and your expectations. It’s what your small business structure, but also developing elements including your marketing plan and growth plans.
STEP 2: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Your executive summary briefly captures the opportunity at hand, your target market, the competitive landscape, and how you will approach sales & marketing and operations. It also captures expected milestones, as well as your management plan and your financial plan.
Again – as an entrepreneur just starting out, much of this will be expected or predicted. You will make some assumptions. We all know the old saying about making assumptions, but in this case, it’s necessary in order to build a plan of action. No worries!
STEP 3: OPPORTUNITY
Describe your opportunity in terms of a mission statement which shares the need have you identified and the solution you offer. This section is an overview of your business opportunity. Your opportunity section captures the purpose of your company, your point of difference, and answers why consumers need or want your product and why now. Step 3 is completed by your vision statement which tells us how the world will look like after your product has changed it.
STEP 4: TARGET MARKET
Share your market analysis and include who needs your product, and who is actually purchasing your product, and when.
For example, A newborn baby may need diapers, but a parent or caregiver will make the purchase decision and the actual purchase. Defining your target market is the beginning of your strategy. You’ll want to include your findings on how you expect your target audience to change, expand, develop further and why.
STEP 5: COMPETITION
Identify your competitive landscape. Knowing your competition sets the stage for how you will market and sell your product. A successful business is Not without competition! ‘And don’t forget – competition may also come from unexpected sources.
For example: Perhaps there is no direct competitor. Perhaps no one sells your exact product and meets the exact need. But suppose it’s expensive and there’s a downturn in the economy. Basic necessities of shelter, water and food will scoop up that share of your consumer’s wallet.
Describe your competition today, and if you expect your competition to remain the same as time goes on. An effective business plan allows for change and contingency plans. Share whether your conclusions are due to expected economic influences, seasonality, a result of your planned growth into additional sales channels, or other contributing factors.
STEP 6: SALES & MARKETING
Describe your business plan in terms of how you will market your product and how you will sell it. Develop your business strategy , starting with your initial reach, progress with how you will engage your target market, and how they will actually make the purchase and receive it. Include whether it’s an impulse purchase, a long-term complicated decision, and if you expect repeat purchases. Part of selling your product involves their ability to actually purchase and receive it, right? It also involves feedback and possible returns. Consider these factors, especially as you move onto step 7.
You do not need creative assets in this section. You will also develop a sales plan and a marketing plan at some point. This section of your business plan should outline and summarize the overall strategy.
STEP 7: OPERATIONS
This part of your new business plan will outline how your product is created, costs involved, how long it takes to create, and how it will reach the end consumer. Share expectations on shipping, if returns/refunds are expected, what %, why, and how the customer service process will be managed. Your operations plan and the process itself will relate back to consumer engagement as well as future sales and marketing decisions and tactics.
STEP 8: MILESTONES
A well thought-out business plan will lessen anxiety and unreasonable expectations by defining short-term and longer-term goals.
Short-term goals may be 3-6 months or 1 year, which can then determine the timing of longer-term goals. You need to determine the actual timing based on your business needs. If your business concept involves long-range planning needs, the goal timing will obviously be adjusted. Use what you currently know as facts and the current business environment and build in assumptions. Again, as your business grows and changes, you will update your plan.
For now though, know this section contains your business goals – the when and the how. Provide an overview or include a deep dive into your SMART goals with specific objectives and steps….. Again – this is YOUR document.
· When you will start selling
· When you expect to reach a certain sales goal in dollars or units
· When you will kick of your first marketing campaign with a brief description
· When you expect your sales will pay back for your investment and generate a profit
· Any pertinent milestones
STEP 9: COMPANY
Describe who is part of your company and where you are located. Include an organizational chart if you have one and your leadership structure. At this earlier stage in your business venture you may have a number of employees and/or have formal and informal advisors. Early on, this section will be light and can be included simply as part of your executive summary. If you are expecting immediate growth and/or seeking funding, share your expected framework.
STEP 10: FINANCIAL PLAN
Write this section last, but by no means is it the least important! Your financial plan is a high-level overview of how you are currently funding the business and how further support will move your business forward. You, as the business owner, and potential investors absolutely want to know where your funds are coming from, what is coming in from expected sales, and what is going out as your cost of doing business.
Achieving a return on investment is critical – obviously!
Your business plan gets you through the early stages of prioritizing and figuring out what to do next. Your business plan can serve as a guide through mid-stages of development and growth when you are overwhelmed. It also leads you to determine the legal structure of your business, and helps you plan for investments such as additional staff.
Your plan is a basic 1st step. Your plan will guide your next steps.
It’s a living document helps guide you today and in making sound decisions about your future. So download a form, use ours, or make your own.
There are many beautiful options, lots of fancy words, and you can pay for them and pay for assistance in creating your plan. You can. ‘But you do not have to or need to.
Again – no mystery here. No magic. Nothing to buy. No special way to do anything.
JUST DO IT.
As time goes on – as soon as it’s written actually – your plan will help uncover the holes in your assumptions. You will then fill them. You will then hit additional, unforeseen hurdles. However, you will be backed by a solid sense of who you are and what this business is about – so you will objectively prioritize and get over the hurdles – thanks to your plan. The time spent planning is worth it. YOU are worth that investment.
Get moving. You have a business to build!