How to Write a Great Business Plan
Before you venture out on your new adventure, you want to make sure that you have a business plan. While you may think you’ve got a great concept or idea, you’ll need to make certain that you’ve considered all the aspects of your business, from overhead, to sourcing talent, to your estimated expenses and projected revenue, and your audience and marketing. Jumping in without these plans in place can soon land you in over-your head, and completely underwater.
Do Your Research
Before you put pen to paper and begin writing, you need to make sure that your idea or product is marketable. Find out who your competition is, how much they are selling their product for, and whether you can compete with their pricing and overhead. You also want to identify your market, find out what drives them, and where to find them. Are there any environmental or financial regulations you’ll need to follow? You may realize that your great idea isn’t so great after all, and that there’s more to it than you thought. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to give up, but maybe your research will have told you what is missing from the market, so that you can capitalize on it.
Describe your Business
This needs to be as detailed as possible. Don’t just say “I plan to sell paintballs.” You need to think about all the things you just researched. “I plan to manufacture small batches of biodegradable paintballs in my garage to sell to people that play casually in my local region.” Or it might be “I plan to open a factory that employs 40 people to mass-produce paintballs for wholesale to stores and paintball venues nationally.” While both of those technically would fall under the first basic statement, they are very different business ventures, with different needs. You need to be as specific as possible and identify and define your goals and objectives. Answer the five w’s and know the who, what, where, when and why of your business.
Seek Outside Help If Needed
There are so many aspects to starting and running a business that it’s difficult for many people to handle it themselves. Whether you need an attorney to help you determine legalities, or if you need to consult with an accountant to see if it’s feasible, do it. It’s much better to spend a small amount up-front to make sure all your ducks are in a row than to deal with any crisis that might arise because you didn’t do your homework. There are even consultants available who specialize in writing business plans, and getting your business up and running. It might be a bit pricey, but it might mean the difference between hitting the ground running and just hitting the ground.
Get to Work
Once you’ve done your research, gathered your data, and given yourself a clear vision for what you want to see, you will need to begin writing your business plan. There are many templates available online including Honcho’s “Business ready in a day” site, and even sites that can walk you through the process step-by-step. Make sure you cover every base.
Test it Out Before You Take it Live
If you’ve never done this before, you might want to have someone review your plan. There are several online sites where you can liaise with a contractor to review your documents like Upwork or Freelancer. Find someone with experience in writing business plans to look it over and tell you if they think it needs work and pay attention to any questions they might have for you. This will help you rework your plan accordingly and set your business up to get through the next 3-5 years.
Don’t rush it, and remember that it can be revised and amended as needed.
With a background in business administration and management, Tess Pajaron currently works at Open Colleges, Australia's leading online educator. She likes to cover stories in careers and self-growth.