For the first few years after you start a company, your business plan will serve as a roadmap for the entire enterprise. It will be a document you turn to repeatedly, whether to woo potential partners and investors or to make significant business decisions.
If you want to lay the groundwork for a stable business, it's essential to get your business plan right. Here are a few critical questions your plan should answer:
What need are you addressing? A solid business plan will go beyond an outline of what the business does and clearly state why the business exists. The services you offer or products you produce are undoubtedly important, but they do little to tell potential partners and stakeholders why your business is valuable. What will be the driving force behind customers or clients who work with you? What business need are you addressing that will keep people coming back? It's best to back up this question with research to show that the need for your business exists.
What makes you different? There are very few original ideas. In general, if you are trying to fill a market need, so are others. Startups are always coming on and off the radar. The ones that succeed are those that can serve a crucial need uniquely. Understanding how you're different means identifying your competition. Find out what major players are already doing, and analyze their strong points and their weaknesses. You should be strong where others are weak and you should have a number of business processes that set you apart from the crowd.
Who are you talking to? When someone asks about the audience for your business plan it's easy to say, "anyone and everyone," but the fact is that's neither true nor practical. No matter how useful your service or product is you won't be able to sell it to everyone. If you fall into the trap of focusing on everyone, and not a specific group, your business plan will be too feeble and ineffectual to grab anyone's attention. Define your key demographic based on locations like age, gender, education, geographic location, employment status, marital status, etc. Market research is essential for this step.
How will your business make money? The obvious answer here is, "sell." But it's not that simple. How are you going to sell? Where will you sell? Do you plan on being based in a brick-and-mortar store or online? Do you have a value for your services or products? What kind of overhead are you looking at? Making money means making a profit, and to do that you need to understand the cost of running a business, along with the price of your product.
A good business plan puts you one step closer to achieving your entrepreneurial dream. Don't forget to contact registered agent services and look into the benefits of incorporating your business as you move forward with your company.