So you want to start a business? Amazing! Few things are as exhilarating as being an entrepreneur and taking charge of your own destiny. If you have a big idea and it’s a burning passion deep inside you, that’s a great start. Now you need a business plan.
First, realize starting a business is not for everyone. Just like working in a big complex corporation is not for everyone. Running your own business provides a lot of flexibility and you have more control. However, it is A LOT OF WORK. And you have to do it all yourself or find reliable resources.
Not to dampen your enthusiasm, but starting a business is not something you do and figure it out as you go. There are many fundamental realities you have to think through. For more insights check out this article for hard realities you might face.
To successfully turn your dream into reality, here are the important business plan components and six questions you can answer to develop your plan:
CREATING YOUR BRAND
What is your unique proposition compared to your competition?
You have to creatively articulate what you have to offer. Then make sure that it's something that people really want. You also need to ensure that somebody else isn’t already doing it better than you can.
Start by writing a value proposition or positioning statement that succinctly communicates your brand promise.
Why are you excited about your business? What problem are you solving? What need are you fulfilling? What kind of emotional connection do you want to have with your consumers?
Research what your competitors do well and where you can do even better. Be sure this is a business category with growth potential and then go get it.
IDENTIFYING YOUR AUDIENCE
Who is the ideal consumer for your product or service?
It’s very important to get as specific as you can about your ideal customer. Identify not just their age and gender, but type of personality and lifestyle they have.
The more narrowly you can describe them, the easier it is to find and serve them. Very specific targeting is key to success. Define your niche.
MARKETING + SELLING
How will you find these consumers and market to them?
Are you ready to hustle? Before you start a business, you need to consider how you will build awareness for what you are offering. How will you deliver your message to the audience you have defined? How will you drive sales?
Google yourself. Are you proud of what’s coming up? You need to build platforms so you can stay visible and people can find you.
You should consider at minimum: a Website, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin.
Who can you leverage in your network to help you find customers? A formal salesforce or some sales support may also be required. Marketing and new business are critical to success.
SERVICING YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS
How are you going to handle legal, financial and marketing functions?
Even if you are the one creating product or offering the service, you are not likely going to be able to do it all alone. You need to determine what you can do and what you need to outsource.
Who will design your logo? Build your website? Do you need help getting all the legal handled to set up your LLC or C-Corp? How about getting a Tax ID? You are going to need a business bank account. Don’t forget about the back office administrative tasks like invoicing and accounting. Will you need insurance? Who is going to handle IT issues?
This is a BIG ONE. Be sure you think all aspects of your business support needs through.
MANAGING THE MONEY
What is your financial model and how will you generate revenue?
You don’t have to be a financial expert to put some numbers down on paper. You want to ensure your business can be profitable. What will you charge and what are your expenses?
Consider how much money you will need to get started? Will you need investors? Do you need office space or a warehouse? Do you need to invest in inventory?
How much money will you need to make a year? After you pay all of your costs, is this a realistic financial goal? Do you have enough money in savings to get you through your ramp up year?
CONFIRMING YOUR COMMITMENT
Are you ready to stay passionate and determined no matter what?
Finally, know that starting a business takes a lot of guts and grit. You need the right growth mindset. You need to know there are things you don’t know and be resourceful in figuring them out. Confirm your commitment.
There will be great days. Days when you make your first sale. Days when you get great reviews. Days when you can’t believe how lucky you are. And then, there will likely be days where you feel like you have no idea what you're doing. At times, you may question your decision. Expect enormous victories. Get ready for gut-wrenching defeats. Remind yourself your WHY. You can do anything if your why is strong enough.
Straight Talk Summary About Starting A Business
I wish it was simpler, but you need to write a formal business plan when you start a business. You need to know all of the answers to the six questions above. Starting a business is an enormous opportunity. Success requires a lot of planning and due diligence as well as ongoing passion.
Be sure to run your business plan by friends or family with some knowledge who will tell you the truths you need to hear. Then find someone with professional expertise. Learn. Revise. Test. Then launch.
Best of luck building your business plan and chasing that dream. Go make our world a better place by starting your business and sharing your unique gifts.
Eva is an enthusiastic, results-oriented go-getter. She is currently Chief Inspiration Officer of her own career coaching consulting company, Vita Creativa. Prior to being SVP, Brand Development at 20th Century Fox and four years of consulting with every major entertainment studio, Eva successfully navigated a 20-year dream-come-true-career at the Walt Disney Company. She wrote a book about that experience called FROM THE OUTHOUSE TO THE MOUSE HOUSE, CRAP YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR A DREAM COME TRUE CAREER. To relax, Eva enjoys yoga and champagne as needed.