“Going into business without a business plan is like going on a mountain trek without a map.” – Kevin J. Donaldson
If you’re serious about finding success as an entrepreneur, then right from the start, have the intention to grow it in the right direction — and for that to happen, you would need a solid business plan.
Know your business inside and out.
A business plan gives you a bird’s eye view of your business as a whole and, when appropriately developed, lets you connect the dots of each important aspect, so you get an idea of how to manage your business better.
Be mindful every step of your entrepreneurial journey — don’t waste time figuring things out as you go; instead, proactively identify potential problems, formulate solutions, and create efficiency.
Your business plan is the structure of the vision you have for your business.
However, formulating a business plan can be intimidating. But the good news is, although it’s going to be challenging initially, you’ll eventually get the hang of it as you go along.
So to make things easier for you, here are 5 essential steps that you can take to craft the business plan of your dreams:
Step 1. Identify and Focus on Your Niche
Your business can’t do everything for everyone—not everyone will resonate nor even listen to your message. The first key to achieving business success is to focus and identify your ideal client—the market that finds value in what you do.
Research on the different types of audiences—examples of important points are their profession, age bracket, what they like to do in their spare time, and what they have in common.
Build on your findings, find your target audience to let them know how you can help solve their problems.
Step 2. Do Market Research
Once you’ve decided on a focused niche, it’s time to do some fact-checking.
Market research is an essential step to building a viable business. Understanding the market you’re about to enter is a great way to know if you’re choosing a worthy market to serve.
2.1. Market Demand
Is there still a demand for your product or service? Excellent sources of information for this would be your successful direct competitors and industry statistics.
Sample (if you’re an events planner):
In the last three years, Sunshine Design and Events handled an annual average event count of 200+ events, with 85% of them being wedding events and 15% general gatherings in the Seattle Area. The data clearly shows that there is a significant market demand for wedding planners.
In terms of their pricing: their starting price is $15,000 for 20-60 people and $35,000 for 61 people and above. By averaging the prices with the number of event counts, we can estimate their revenue to be $5,000,000. ($25,000 x 200)
2.2. Direct Competitors
You must identify who your direct competitors are. It’s ideal to list down your top 4 that is closest to you geographically and niche wise. You will need this information for the SWOT Analysis in the next step.
Step 3. Do SWOT Analysis Followed by A Plan of Action
3.1. SWOT Analysis
Reflect and get to know your business’ SWOT: strengths, weaknesses, external analysis, and threats.
Your strengths are your and your business’ positive aspects, both tangible and intangible.
- What are you good at?
- What positive resources do you have in your business?
- Examples are: (intangible) attributes of your employees and (tangible) your equipment or assets.
- How are you better than your competition?
- What are your unique skills?
Your weaknesses are the factors that put you at a disadvantage. These are areas that you should further enhance.
- Do you have enough resources?
- Is your business located in the right place?
- What aspects should you improve to be at par with your competitors?
- Do you sign your material?
- Are your skills good enough?
Your opportunities are positive external factors that can help your business prosper in the future.
Lastly, your threats are the negative external factors that may be your source of headaches in the future.
3.2. Plan of Action
Use the results of your SWOT Analysis as a reference to create your plan of action:
Sample (if you’re a gym owner):
Service-wise, we will focus more on instructional and recreation exercises for our audience, like pilates, boxing, and Zumba sessions. We will only hire instructors with at least 2 years of experience and certifications to maintain the utmost quality.
We’ll enhance our online presence by consistently publishing value-adding content for our audience, investing in high-quality visuals, and using SEO strategies.
Step 4. Craft Your Ideal Client’s Persona
It’s only when you get to know your audience when you can create marketing strategies that let you position yourself as an industry leader in their minds, making you stand out among your competitors.
Create at most five personas for your ideal clients. Portray different fictitious characters that you think will match well with your business. If you need to adjust your offer to suit your market’s needs, then do it!
Step 5. Set Your Goals
Your goals are your guiding light, a key source of your motivation. Set them up the S.M.A.R.T. way, a.k.a. specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound.
Bonus tip: Always Review Your Online Presence
Not many people realize the importance of polishing one’s online presence—the slightest lapse of judgment or forgetting to delete an unwanted post can cost you your dream job.
It’s essential to have a trustworthy and clean digital presence because that’s how many people connect with you, possibly potential recruiters and customers. Make sure your personal brand stands out with a beautiful signature logo.
Delete comments or shared posts that could harm your image, and be mindful when moving forward.