Steve Jobs said, “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.”
Starting a business is an exciting venture! It takes a lot of time, dedication and perseverance. The emotional and financial payoffs can be memorable.
Every business needs a business plan no matter how large or small it begins. Writing a business plan isn’t a difficult task. To write a good business plan takes a lot of thought and consideration. There are many templates available to help you get started. Think beyond the blank lines to how you can customize your business plan so that you can really make it your own.
There are countless things to consider as you prepare to write your business plan that will have a major impact on the final result.
If your business plan includes forming a board of directors, it’s wise to factor the cost of a BoardEffect board management software system into your plans to help your business get off the ground based on sound good corporate governance principles.
Here are a few things to give you some food for thought before you get started writing your business plan:
Key Considerations for Startup Businesses
It’s been said that timing is everything, and there’s certainly a lot of truth to that when it comes to deciding the best time to launch your business. Starting a business is incredibly time-consuming in the early months, so it’s wise to consider whether your lifestyle will allow you to dedicate the necessary time to pursuing a successful startup.
Think about what is going on in your life and how that may (or may not) change in the next few years. If you’re getting married, having a child or dealing with a debilitating illness, it might not be the best time to launch a startup.
Finances play a big role in timing a startup business. Do you have the funds to start a company? Do you have a plan for how to obtain startup funding? Will you be quitting a job that currently pays the bulk of your bills?
If you’re ready to go, complete your business plan, make those important decisions and stick by them!
Be sure to bear down on your budget. Large chunks of startup money whittle away quickly. Think through your startup and maintenance expenses thoroughly so you know what to expect. Get advice from other business owners and account for every expense and every penny.
If you lack discipline, starting a business might not be for you. You’ll need to form a budget and stick to it. Set goals for the day, week and month until you settle on a good flow. Establish benchmarks and put in overtime as needed. Don’t forget to think about work/life balance so you don’t burn out before you get started.
Sharpen your social skills. Build on your current network or get started building a new one. Talk up your new business at every opportunity.
Be sure to tie up all loose ends at the end of each day. If you don’t know how to do something, take the necessary steps to figure it out. Be flexible. There may be more than one way to do something. Don’t be afraid to step outside of the box and try something new.
Parts of a Business Plan
Writing a business plan is as easy as following directions or making a recipe. A business plan has distinct parts with specific instructions. The following is an outline for a standard business plan.
The Executive Summary
The Executive Summary is a one- to four-page summary that spells out the key points that you will describe in each section of the business plan that follows. The Executive Summary should stand alone as its own separate document.
The Business Overview heads up the first page of your business plan. This part of the business plan describes your business. It should include your business’s legal structure, a short history of how you formed your business, the type of business and the location. The Business Overview should also include a description of the means of how you will do business, whether it’s a brick-and-mortar store, the internet, mail order, a subscription box or something else.
The Operations Plan provides a brief explanation of how the business will function. Describe the physical setup, who will fulfill various responsibilities and who will tend to certain tasks.
The next section is the Market Analysis. Provide a brief overview of the market as a whole. Graphs, charts and infographics may be useful to paint an accurate picture of your business, at it will be in the scope of the industry. Clearly define your target market and how you plan to reach them.
Products and Services
In this section, you will provide a description of your products or services. Classify and categorize them and provide a succinct description of each.
Sales and Marketing
This is the place to outline your pricing and sales information. Describe your reasons for why you believe these are the best price points and what will attract your target audience to your products or services. Describe your plans for the marketing and advertising efforts that will lead you to your target audience.
Figure out who your direct and indirect competitors are and analyze their strengths and weaknesses. Describe your plans to gain an edge over your competition.
Describe in this section who your top leaders will be. Provide biographical information on all key staff.
Outline the amount needed to start and maintain the business. Project how much will be required to maintain the business for the next two to five years. Describe how you plan to use the funds and whether you have a plan for additional funding. The costs for your board portal go in this section as a business expense. Carefully think through all business costs, including business supplies, business expenses, salaries, insurance costs, promotional expenses, marketing and any other financial information.
Write up income statements with financial projections for at least two or three years.
Finally, attach all supporting documents to your business plan. Include biographies of key managers, articles or media on the company, and any other relevant documents.
A board management software system such as BoardEffect is essential to a successful business. The portal is highly secure and provides unlimited cloud-based document storage for all of your startup documents. It’s a valuable tool that will help you keep your company in legal compliance and assist you in getting off the ground on the best possible footing. BoardEffect commits to adding innovative solutions as your business evolves to support business growth now and in the future.