Thinking of starting a business but have no idea where to start? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, given the new economic and cultural realities of our time, more people than ever are beginning to see the appeal of creating their own work.
However, what most people fail to do from the onset is create a plan. Without proper business planning, you will lack the clarity and confidence required to establish and maintain a successful business. A business plan is like a road map with a final destination, providing clear direction on what you want your business to become and how to get there. Business plans should not be written and forgotten about. That’s how you get lost. They should be consulted regularly and updated as needed. After all, you might find short-cuts along the way or reach your goals faster – these achievements should be reflected in your plan. Setting and meeting small or short-term goals can serve as check-points on your road map to success, measuring overall advancement and validating the plan’s long-term viability.
Business plans can take on specific roles and be designed for specific purposes. Start-up businesses, for example, may require a plan to reinforce their vision, build confidence and prove the feasibility of their concept. Some common business plans include:
Start-up Business plans – details the new business, describing the company and its product or service. This plan addresses market demands and outlines financial cash-flow projections.
Internal Business plans – evaluates a proposed project and describes the company in its current state. This plan addresses how the project will effect operational cash-flow and resources.
Strategic Business plans – focuses on the business’ vision and mission statement. It definite critical success factors, strategies for achieving objectives and an implementation schedule of short- and long-term goals.
Operations business plans – used for internal business needs and focuses on elements related to the companies’ operations. It includes implementation markers, deadlines and employee responsibilities. This plans evaluates businesses operations and addresses any shortfalls or changes required for smooth progressions.
Growth Business plan – most commonly used for funding, either internally or externally. When seeking funding, a plan will outline the amount required in order to fulfill certain requirements, where the funds will be targeted, and a timeline for repayment.
Every plan, no matter its intended audience or purpose, should include 3 basic components:
- A set of goals to align the team towards the same end result. These can be presented as mission and vision statements, or simply as a purpose for the company.
- A purpose. This can range from seeking capital to addressing a new product’s feasibility to strategizing the viability of expanding into a new market. This is the body of the plan and it contains the details necessary to ensure the plan’s success.
- A financial foothold. A new business is almost always seeking a loan, an investment or even an understanding of its own in-house cash-flow. Understanding your financial foothold will allow you to determine the feasibility of your proposed project.
Like any big project or road trip, a cohesive and thought-out plan is required to reach the final destination. This requires time, research and reflection. It’s a processes that can’t be rushed and must be approached from all perspectives. So if you’re hoping to start a business, we recommend you sit down and start sketching your map.