In this post, you’ll discover how to make a business plan for your business.
If you’re like many entrepreneurs who are in our community, you want to have a thriving business.
Yet, when it comes to starting one, there’s an essential thing you need that will give you the clarity and action steps to take to success.
A business plan. Do you have one?
You’re not alone if you said no.
Today, it’s easier than ever to start your own business. All you need is an Internet connection, a laptop, and the ability to write and market yourself.
But there’s one other thing that is essential when you go into business for yourself—a plan.
Whether you’re setting up a coaching business, running an e-commerce brand, or creating your own brick and mortar store, you have to have a plan.
Now, I will admit – for most clients I work with, you really don’t need to get super fancy or crazy complicated with it. We can simplify it enough to make it impactful for you to actually take action on.
So, if you’re a coach or course creator or agency owner, definitely go through these steps but some of these won’t be as required. That’s ok.
(P.S. if you’re a big creative and the whole logical left-brained thing freaks you out, definitely check out my friend Jennifer Lee’s Right Brained Business Plan book).
However, if you’re for example looking to get funding or looking for investors for your company – you will ABSOLUTELY need to have an official business plan created. I recommend going through each fo these steps to successfully flesh things out for your business.
If this sounds intense, don’t worry —it’s easier than ever to create one in a few steps.
Let’s take a look at how to make a business plan, what you need to do to get your plan ready and what it should include.
Pre-Planning— What do you need to do before making a business plan?
Before you get started writing the plan, you need to sit down and closely examine your business and even yourself, personally. This is not something that’s meant to be written in an hour (at least not if you want it to be a serious plan).
Here’s what you need to do before you even put pen to paper:
Do your homework
I can’t stress this one enough. Start by looking at examples of other people’s businesses. See what they’ve done that you think could work for you.
A lot of people are afraid of looking at their “competitors” thinking that they want to stay in their own lane. And trust me, I’ve said the same! Yes, you need to focus on your own growth, your own marketing, your own business…
… BUT, if you don’t know what the plan is, what you should charge, how you’ll be bringing in money, and how to strategically create your differentiation for your brand?
Well, you’ll be shooting in the dark. Throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping something sticks.
We’re smart entrepreneurs. We don’t do that.
You’ll need to research your own industry. You should become an expert in how your competitors are running their businesses, so you can emulate their successes and learn from their mistakes.
There’s no need to make your life harder than it has to be (it’s already not the smoothest since you’ve decided to go on this entrepreneur path, am I right?!)
You also need to know your product inside and out. How are you going to plan for success if you aren’t even familiar with what you’re offering the public?
Define your purpose
Why are you writing this plan?
Are you just getting started and want to establish yourself?
Maybe you’re looking to draw outside investors?
Or perhaps you’re interested in revamping or retooling an existing business venture?
Each of these could be what you have in mind for your business, and each will require a different approach to your business plan.
Define your company
Next, you need to sit down and write a quick description of the company. Make sure to define your story and your company history as well as what services you offer or products you sell.
You also need to identify your target audience, so you can determine how to best market to them. You need to be clear about the right people to market to, so you don’t end up marketing to everyone cause that doesn’t work.
Finally, you need to define what makes your business different from others in your field. This is something you will need to pull from later when you are writing the full plan.
Plan on pulling together all of the facts and figures that you are going to need for defining your business. That means profits, losses, marketing expenditures and the like. All of this will go into some aspect of your business plan.
The Plan Itself— What should actually go into your business plan?
Here’s something that may come as a surprise to you—the federal government has already created an outline to help you write your business plan.
The Small Business Association has developed nine parts that should go into a business plan. Now, this is not a mandatory requirement that you absolutely have to do word-for-word. Think of it as a guideline that you can adapt to meet your own needs.
🔥 Executive Summary—This is where the pre-planning information will come in handy.
In this first section, you will describe your company, explaining what is does but also why it’s going to be successful. (Be positive here…You WILL be successful.) Also make sure to explain what product or service you’re offering to the public.
A well-crafted mission statement should also be included in this section along with demographic information such as the background of the executives and the number of employees. You’ll also want to include physical assets such as the business location.
Finally, you can include the financial data you researched, especially if you’re using this plan to seek financing for your business.
🔥 Company Description—Here, you’re going to go beyond the basic details of your business like the number of employees.
You’re going to delve into what makes your business different from all of the others.
You need to list all of the individuals and groups that will use your products or services. (For example, a web design business may specialize in helping computer novices who are looking to get their first website created and posted online.)
This is where you really need to be positive and try to sell your company to the reader as the best in your field by emphasizing your assets (such as experts in your field or production equipment that is more advanced than your competitors).
🔥 Market Analysis—Here’s another place where that research will come in handy. You’ll need to know exactly what the prospects for your industry are and how well your competitors are doing in terms of market share.
You need to know what type of marketing your competitors are doing. (Are they using websites or still trying to get business with TV spots, print ads, and billboards?)
Here’s your chance to formally analyze what they do well and what they get wrong, so you can make your plan better than the other guys.
🔥 Organization and Management—Here’s where you’ll need a visual representation of your business hierarchy.
You’ll want a clear outline of the business’s chain-of-command and who is supervising those below them on the ladder. Explain each person on your team’s experience and what he or she will bring to the business.
Finally, you will want to explain the legal aspect of your business (Are you privately owned, publicly traded, etc.?).
🔥 Service and/or Product—Now, explain exactly what your business will provide.
Define your product line or the services that your company can offer to customers.
Here, you want to include anything specific, such as techniques or products, that separate you from the rest of your competition. For instance, are you also the patent owner of the products that you sell? If you run a cleaning business, is there a special cleaning technique or equipment that you use?
All of these will help differentiate you from your competitors and if you have none of these things, it may show you where you can improve in your business development.
🔥 Marketing Strategy—How are you going to sell your business to the world?
A good marketing strategy will have multiple prongs including traditional marketing plans and online marketing.
This should also include your plans for SEO and social media marketing. (In this day and age, those two are absolute must-haves that any business truly needs to succeed.) The more specific you can get in this section, the better off you will be.
🔥 Funding Request—Like I said before, not every business plan will include each one of these points. But for a lot of businesses, the plan’s purpose is to seek out investors or to secure capital for expansion.
So, here’s where you make your sales pitch.
You need to have a five-year plan of how much money you will need and exactly where this will go. If you plan to expand your staff, include why this is needed and a breakdown of expected salaries.
If you need to buy new equipment, you should specify what you need and why as well as how much you’ll need to pay for the equipment. As with any request for funding, the more specific you can get, the better off you will be.
🔥 Appendix—OK, just like your real appendix, this one is totally not necessary, so don’t feel bad if your business plan doesn’t have one.
The appendix is where you collect all of the documents that will support the earlier parts of the plan. You should include your financial statements, permits and licenses, and any legal documents that can give your earlier statements credibility.
Every journey needs a roadmap, right?
I mean, if you were going to go across country, you’d definitely take a map. (Many of us won’t even go across town without the GPS!)
So it makes sense that you need a map or guidebook to help you drive your business to success. Taking the time to write out a business plan is something that you need if you want to have a successful business.
As I said, it’s not a plan that you can throw together in an hour. But if you take the time and put forth the effort, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of your creation.