When you are starting a business, a simple business plan will help you get organized. You want to think through how you will set up and run your business.
A business plan does not need to be scary. You do not have to be a numbers person or even have prior business experience. What you do need to do is organize your business thoughts in a way that helps you to go from zero to one.
Business plans can be quite complex and sophisticated. As your business grows, so will your business planning. That is, however, a champagne problem- meaning if you are growing and you need more complex business plans, you are doing well.
If you are looking to find investors or borrow money to start your business, then your business plan will need a greater amount of detail. StartUpLoans has a great Business Plan template that will be essential if you are looking to borrow money or find investors. Please also review our Research Your Business guide that has a simple one page SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities Threats). A good SWOT analysis should inform your business plan.
At MachFast.com we believe in making life easier for small businesses. Hence, focusing on a 1-page business plan will enable you to organize your thoughts and use the 1-pager as a foundation for growing your business. You can alway make life more complex for yourself.
The basic questions below will get you going. Do your plans make sense? Always reach out to business mentors, your friends and family and various startup support organisations. If you can afford an accountant, seek out their views.
Top 10 Business Plan Questions
1. What are you selling? (simple description)
Write down a very brief description of your product or service. If you can not describe your new business in a few words, you are in trouble. How will your customers, suppliers, business partners, investors and others understand what you are doing. To be sure if you are a rocket scientist, then your description may be a bit more technical. However, you are going into a commercial business not a theoretical ivy tower. Make sure other people can easily understand what your business is about.
2. Is your product/service solving a problem that is worth solving?
Is your business produce or service the best thing since sliced bread? Have you invented new mouse trap? Are you solve a real problem that exists or do you have a solution that is looking for the problem? Please articulate clearly why the problem needs solving and why you can make a great business out of your solution. By the way, you do not need to be next Amazon. If you are thinking of starting a design business, you have to figure out how to differentiate yourself from all the other possible options that your potential customers may have.
3. What is your solution in detail or what is your Unique Selling Proposing (“USP”)?
Write down and read out-loud all the special and unique descriptions of your business. Do they sound unique when you read them out-loud?
Who is your target market?
Do you know your target market? Who will buy your services and products?
4. Who is the competition?
Are you entering a hugely competitive space? If you are starting a restaurant in your town, how many restaurants are on the street? What is their foot traffic? How will you compete against them? Do you have a ‘competitive moat’ – that means that your particularl business approach is hard to replicate.
5. How will you sell & market your product/service?
Do you need a physical space? Do you need to understand digital marketing? Are you selling through distributors?
6. How will you make money? (or what will your revenue look like?)
Don’t forget, you are starting a business, not a charity. Write down how you intend to make money. How much will you charge for products and services? When will you become profitable?
7. What are your anticipated business expenses?
Cash is king. Never forget that rule. Write down all the expenses that you can predict (both business and personal). Don’t forget, you will need to eat.
8. What are your key milestones?
What are your early goals? What happens if you reach them? What happens if you miss them?
9. Who are the key stakeholders for your business? (e.g. your co-founders, employees, suppliers, associations, on-line platforms)
Write down all the people that you may need to interact with early on to get going.
10. Who are your mentors?
Business mentors are often overlooked. When you are starting a new business, business mentors are invaluable. Do you have a business mentor? If you do not, find one through friends, relatives, local chambers of commerce, networking, startup accelerators, business associations. Business mentors are great sounding boards as they have walked the walk and talked the talk.