Do you find starting your own business exciting, terrifying, or maybe a little bit of both? It’ll be an uphill struggle to get your new venture off the ground – that much is certain. But the reward for your efforts will be worth it: Owning your own business and having something to call your own!
If you’re itching to start the Business Planning process, that’s great! It shows that you’re motivated and ready to take things from point A (your current situation) and lead them in a brand-new direction. Read on for ten useful tips on how to start your Business Planning process.
Business Planning Tip #1: Know Why You’re Starting a Business
Before you get all wrapped up in the logistics of your new business (and even before you’ve begun to start writing down your business ideas), you must know why you’re starting a business in the first place. You need to have a reason strong enough to weather the many ups and downs inherent to entrepreneurship. If you don’t know why you’re starting a business, or if it’s not something you’re incredibly passionate about, you might want to rethink your plans. After all, starting a business is a huge commitment – you need to be fully committed and willing to put in the time and energy it will need to succeed.
Business Planning Tip #2: Write Down Your Business Idea(s)
After you’ve figured out why you’re starting a business, the next step is to write down your business idea(s). What do you want your business to do? What service or product do you want to sell? You’re beginning to create a roadmap for your future business by putting these ideas into writing. In addition, writing down your business idea(s) forces you to think critically about your business and what you want it to do. It’s easy to get so caught up in the excitement of getting started that you overlook the fact that you need to have a clearly defined idea. By putting your ideas in writing, you’re actively working to ensure that you have a solid foundation on which to build your business.
Business Planning Tip #3: Define Your Niche and Product
After you’ve written down your business idea(s), the next step is to define your niche and product. What are your business and product going to be? What service or product do you want to sell? The niche and product that you select for your business will go a long way toward determining your success or failure. It will help you to decide who your target audience(s) are and what need(s) your product or service will fill in their lives. By deciding on your niche and product before you move on to the next step, you’ll be able to make better use of your time and avoid spending it on pursuits that won’t benefit your business.
Business Planning Tip #4: Research Your Market
After you’ve decided on your niche and product, the next step is to research your market. What do your customers want? What are their pain points? What are their needs? And, perhaps most importantly, how can you fill their needs? You want to get a good idea of your potential customers and their preferences to determine how to best position your product or service. If you’re planning to start a business in a highly competitive market, you’ll need to do some more in-depth research and/or come up with a truly unique and innovative product or service.
Business Planning Tip #5: Define Your Target Audience(s)
Now it’s time to define your target audience(s). Who are your potential customers? What are their demographics? Why will they purchase your product or service? Figuring out the who, what, and why will help you to determine how to best position your product or service. You don’t want to randomly select a target audience based on what you think might sell. Instead, you want to carefully select the group(s) that would most benefit from your product or service and would be willing to pay for it.
Business Planning Tip #6: Get To Know Your Competitors
Next, you want to get to know your competitors. Who are they? What are they doing? What is their business model? You want to know everything you can about your closest competitors – including their products’ and business models’ strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, you want to know how your products and services compare to theirs and how they can improve upon them. This will help you to assess your own strengths and weaknesses, which will come in handy when you get to the marketing stage of your business planning process.
Business Planning Tip #7: Write Down Your Marketing Strategies
After you’ve done some research on your market, competitors, and potential customers, you should write down your marketing strategies. How will you reach your customers? What strategies do you plan to employ to ensure your products and services reach the people who would benefit from them most? Are you planning to invest in paid advertising? What about inbound marketing strategies? Will you be attending conferences and/or hosting events? You’ll want to carefully select the marketing strategies that will provide you with the best return on investment.
Business Planning Tip #8: Decide On Your Startup Costs and Revenue Forecast
Once you’ve decided on your marketing strategies, you should sit down and decide on your startup costs and revenue forecast. How much money do you need to get started? What are the bare minimum expenses you’ll need to operate and thrive? What kind of revenue do you expect your business to bring in? These are important questions to ask yourself, as they will help you figure out how long your business will take to become profitable and how much money you’ll need to get it up and running.
Business Planning Tip #9: Create Your Basic Operating Plan
Now, it is the time where you should create your basic operating plan. What does your business look like on a day-to-day basis? What are your goals for each month, quarter, and year? How do you plan to achieve those goals? What does your employee/management position structure look like? What does your office space look like? These are all important questions to ask yourself and write down so that you can have a clear vision of what your business will be like daily. Answering these questions will help you effectively plan for your business’s future and ensure that you’re fully prepared for whatever might come your way. At this point, you have a solid foundation on which to build your business. You know why you’re starting a business, you have a solid idea of your business, and you have a general idea of how you’ll achieve your goals. Now, you just need to put your ideas and plans into action!
Business Planning Tip #10: Decide On Your Business Name and Branding
Once you’ve created your basic operating plan, you should sit down and decide on your business name and brand. What do you want your business name to be? What do you want your brand to look like? This is an important step in the process of starting your business, as it will determine how your customers see you and make them feel. Your brand will be the face of your business and will make a lasting impression on every person that comes into contact with it. By carefully selecting your business name and brand, you’ll be able to effectively convey the core message and value of your business to potential customers. A strong brand will go a long way towards helping you to attract the right customers and keep the wrong ones away.
Starting a business is a big undertaking – there’s no doubt about that. It’s a long, hard road that will take a lot of time, energy, and effort to get your company up and running. However, the rewards for your efforts will be worth it. You’ll get to call your own shots, work in a field you love, and make a real difference in the world.
Written by Dr. Thommie Burger, Founder of Symmetry Hub Growth Partner JTB Consulting.
Established in 2006, JTB have successfully written more than 12,500 Professional Business Plans for clients across 25 countries. As a leading Business Plan Company, JTB delivers correctly structured Business Plans with exceptional quality every time.
Request a personalised business plan quote from JTB here.