I don’t know about you, but I have a plan for almost every area of my life (most of the time)! However, for whatever reason, sometimes I self-sabotage
and do not make a structured plan for very important projects, etc. Those of us who are highly creative individuals often find it quite tempting to
dive into the more creative parts of our businesses. However, it is crucial that every business has a solid foundation and that is grounded in a well
thought out and strategic business plan. Don’t start yawning, this does not mean it has to be a cumbersome, dry, and boring project. You can still
be creative in putting together your roadmap to success!
Absolutely, business plans can be intimidating. Just hearing someone say those words is enough to put me on high alert. I guarantee you, it’s not nearly as complicated and taxing as it seems. Think of a business plan like piecing together a beautiful puzzle. You just need to have the right pieces in the right place! Sometimes, it's easier still if we change the name of the document so that we better understand it, even though it still contains the same needed information. Calling a business plan a Strategic Business Blueprint somehow make it seem more like the puzzle analogy we used above. A blueprint is a map of different puzzle pieces that fit into the right places making up a project. Your business plan is the same thing.
Don’t fret about knowing which pieces you need. Although every strategic blueprint er....business plan varies according to your specific niche, market, and your intentions for your business they all include the same pieces. To get you started, below you’ll find the essential parts that must be included in all strategic business plans. Enjoy the process—Happy planning!
Before you can get into ultra specific components of your business things like budgets and marketing strategies, you need to provide a general overview. This summary should include the need to know facts to make your business run.
Are you a sole proprietorship, a partnership, an LLC, etc.? What are your mission, vision, values, and purpose? Where is your location? How do you conduct business? Do you have a physical building or are you solely an online business?
There’s no need to feel overwhelmed by these questions. Take a little time to do some initial research, jot down some notes, and you’ll have your answers in no time!
2. Products and Services
Of course to be a business, you must offer something (product or service) to customers. Your business plan should also describe what you offer.
To keep organized, it’s a wonderful idea to categorize your products and services. You’ll be grateful you took time for this step because it’s a proactive way to prevent stress later.
Be sure to write a brief description of each service or product. This step assists in creating a comprehensive business plan and it simplifies things as you complete other sections.
3. Sales and Marketing Plan
Now that you’ve outlined your products and services, you need to describe the pricing structure for them. How much will you charge and how do you justify your prices? You may want to include the research you’ve done that indicates why your customers will be willing to pay that amount.
Setting your price structure is just one step. How do you intend to reach your customers? You will detail your strategy in the marketing portion of your business plan. Whatever your marketing tactics are, you map them out in this section!
4. Market Analysis
You must know exactly whom your customers are in order to effectively reach them. This is where your market analysis comes in. “Market analysis” is an essential piece of your business plan.
To begin, you’ll want to describe the current condition of your particular industry. This requires some research to discover key indicators like the size, trends, and projected growth.
Another important component of your market analysis is identifying your target customer. What gender do you reach? What is their age range? What are their defining characteristics and behaviors? Where do they get their information? This will assist you in appropriating your marketing efforts.
5. Competitive Analysis
We all know there’s a lot of competition in the business world. It’s critical to know exactly who your competitors are. This section describes these current competitors and a variety of facts about their businesses. How do they excel? What could they do better?
You’ll need to take some time to think about what truly sets you apart from these competitors. You must determine what differentiates you from the rest in your industry. Are your products of a higher quality? Do you specialize in a unique market? Do you have more expertise? Once you’ve answered these questions, you can outline how you outshine your competitors!
6. Financial Plan/Budget
Now you’ve reached the section that everybody dreads--the budget. This should contain all financial information that is relevant to your business.
If you’re using your business plan to approach an investor or bank, first clearly establish the amount you require in order to start and maintain your business. Describe any ongoing business expenses you anticipate.
Your budget should detail the money that’s going out and what’s coming in. What are your projected revenues? What’s your breakeven point?
Lastly, you’ll want to outline your plans for using the funds to benefit your business. Investors aren’t likely to give money to every business that approaches them. You’ll want to prove that you’ve thought long and hard about the best places to spend your money.
This section will involve some frustrating number crunching. Grab your calculator and confidently conquer this part! Like it or not, finances are bottom line and the engine of your business.
Agreed, creating your business plan can be intimidating. It’s also an incredibly exciting part of your business journey! Look at the business plan as the first step on your exciting adventure. You’ll be one large step closer to success!
P.S. Don't forget that we are here to help. We sit down with every potential client and take a deep dive into their unique business and specific goals to determine if we're a right fit for their project - at no charge. Overwhelmed and out of time? Grab a spot on our calendar for a chat, it's free.