Starting up your own business can be a very exciting, yet at the same time, nerve-wracking experience. Especially for first-timers, it is very easy to become overwhelmed with all the things that would need to be accomplished. There is the matter of coming up with a feasible and practicable idea, an identification of an accessible target market, a practical financing scheme, and of course, profitable execution.
Businesses, however, are not founded on good intentions alone. Before a budding entrepreneur can even begin to call himself as one, he should be able to draw up a concrete business plan.
It’s All in the Planning
The business plan is a very integral component of your entire endeavor. Without it, you might as well be building your business on thin air. It’s not just a matter of putting down your ideas on paper, however. In writing up a business plan, keep in mind that it will be serving you a dual purpose:
1) Road Map to Success – The business plan is primarily intended for you to have an express statement of what you would like to happen with your intended business. It should be able to stipulate your objectives, limitations, and if possible, a step-by-step outline of how you will go about the execution of your ideas. Therefore, your business plan must be as specific as possible, providing you a crystal clear manifestation of a solid business intention.
Expect that there will be times when things stray from your plans. While preempting these sudden setbacks from occurring at all costs is nothing short of impossible, you can at least mitigate the possibility of it happening with your business plan. As it is a road map of sorts for your enterprise, it is important that you are able to refer to it so that you can avoid straying too far from your goals. Always go back to your business plan when you encounter a crossroads in building or running your business.
2) Enticing Investors – The other purpose of the business plan is to help you sell your idea to someone who can back it up with financing. This is one of the more immediate dilemmas that start-up entrepreneurs face when starting on a project. They think their idea is going to be a sure winner, but they don’t have the financial resources to get things up and running.
New entrepreneurs tend to be rather uncertain in how to attract investors. The popular perception is that socializing and extending one’s network is a great way to get people on board their ideas. While that is one other possible way of meeting potential financial investors, it is your business plan that will cement the deal with them.
In the same way that you would base your decision on the feasibility of the ideas posted on your business plan, financial investors will also be basing their decision to provide you with the financial support you need on this plan. That is why it’s important that your business plan would be able to provide them with the pertinent information they need to discern whether or not your business idea is a feasible one, even at first glance.
Given how important the business plan actually is to your success, it follows that you should be able to construct one as perfectly as possible. To help you come up with a better business plan, take note of the following elements that are crucial to its content.
Company Profile – You wouldn’t get into business with some random person you don’t know; neither would investors. Introduce yourself, provide information about you and your company — what are its immediate goals, and what are the visions and mission that propel you forward with your objective. Who are you and what makes you different from the rest?
Marketing & Sales – Now, it’s time to introduce your product or service. What is it about, and who are you targeting? Outline your plans as to how you would want to operate the business, and what you would want to achieve with it. How do you intend to entice your target market into buying into your offering? Are there any exclusive benefits they can derive from it? What is its story?
Your business plan should be able to provide your market analysis to the potential investor. This is one of the things that they will look at to determine whether or not your plan is actually a workable one. Make it as specific as possible, with projections of possible progressions and expected setbacks. You don’t have to paint a picture perfect scheme; investors just want to see something realistic they can invest their money on.
Business Structure – You cannot manage a business without a proper structure. The way you organize your management will also be a reflection of how organized the execution of your business plan will be. It may not necessarily be set in stone, but at least you should have a good, solid foundation you can work on.
Executive Summary – Remember, your potential investor should be able to have a crystal clear idea of what you want to happen with the business in a glance. Assuming that they won’t have the time or patience to go through your documents and graphs explaining your target market or financial breakdown, your executive summary should at least provide them with a snapshot of your proposal.
Remember, the business world is highly competitive. It’s a battlefield out there, and simply put, you wouldn’t want to be caught unprepared.
About The Author
Rabie Fares is the founder and CEO at Associare.com. The company is recognized as one of Australia’s premiere networking companies, helping entrepreneurs and investors meet.