How to create a great business plan, in a few easy steps!

“A dream will always be a dream, without a plan.”

Elaina Mitchell
CEO & Founder of E. Mitchell Designs

There’s an amazing business idea brewing in your head, and you haven’t taken the jump to make it happen…just yet. I’m here to remind you that starting a business is HARD WORK, but worth every bit of blood, sweat and tears you’ll pour into it! Starting a business is your chance to show the world what you’re passionate about, and make a living (or a lot more) doing it!

If you’re serious about starting a profitable and successful business you’ll need to create a business plan…and we’re here to help!

Having a business plan will help you land investors and paint a clear picture towards the path to success for your new business.

We’re going to go over a few easy steps to creating a business plan. Now, I say “easy” because I’m going to explain these steps in a super simple way…but, let’s not get used to putting the words “business” and “easy” together in the same sentence.

Ready to get started?

WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR BUSINESS PLAN

So, you might be wondering…what exactly is a business plan, and what should it include? 

Business Plan Definition: a document setting out a business’s future objectives and strategies for achieving them. (via Google Dictionary)
 

SBA.gov recommends that a business plan include:

  • Executive summary - a snapshot of your business.
  • Company description - describes what you do.
  • Market analysis - research on your industry, market, and competitors.
  • Organization and management - your business and management structure.
  • Service or product - the products or services you’re offering.
  • Marketing and sales - how you’ll market your business and your sales strategy.
  • Funding request - how much money you’ll need for next 3 to 5 years.
  • Financial projections - supply information like balance sheets.
  • Appendix- an optional section that includes résumés and permits.

There you have it. Now you know exactly what a business plan is, and what to include when creating yours.

Now that we have that out of the way…I’m curious, are you a coffee drinker?…

You might want to grab a big cup right about now, because we’re about to dive deep into the important steps to developing a killer business plan, and I’m going to need your full attention, because this is what success is made of.  I’m ready, if you are!

#1 Set your foundation | Establish a purpose

Studies show that people want to get “behind” a business rather than just buy their product or services. So, let the world know what your ultimate purpose is as a business or brand. 

New Report Reveals 86% of US Consumers Expect Companies to Act on Social, Environmental Issues

(The  2017 Cone Communications CSR Study)

When setting a foundation for your new business or brand, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is your business, brand or product?
  • Why should someone be interested in your business or product(s)?
  • What makes my business, product or brand unique?
  • How does your business or product help people?
  • What problem is your business or product solving?
  • Should consumers be proud to support your business or brand? Why?

Answering these questions first will not only help you identify the purpose behind your new business or brand, but it will also give you a head-start on developing a strong mission statement in the near future.

Your purpose is essentially your foundation as a business or brand. Everything you build for your business or brand, based off of that foundation,  will be a lot stronger because you took the time to establish it from the beginning. 

Once you finish developing your new business plan, you’ll want to start exploring branding options. Knowing your purpose (your foundation) will also help during this process and be a vital piece to a strong and successful branded business image. You’ll also have a better understanding of what markets to target when developing a marketing plan for your business plan. 

"Identifying a purpose is vital to understanding your role as a business and business owner."

#2 Research! And then, research some more!​

If you’re going to do business, you should know absolutely everything about that business. Your goal should be to be able to answer ANY question that may come your way regarding your business, product or brand. 

Of course…there are some things that you have to learn with time and experience. 

Some important things you can, and should, research are:

  • Who are your competitors?
  • How do your competitors market?
  • What is your target market?
  • What is your cost for business/services?
  • Prices for products or materials needed for your business
  • Laws or restrictions in your state or county pertaining to your business or services

#3 Create a company profile

Your company profile will be a summary of your business, and it’s “identity” to the public. The first two steps above were the foundation to this step.  Some information to be found in your company profile are:

  • History of your organization
  • Your purpose as a business or brand
  • What products or services you offer
  • Your target market and audience
  • Your resources
  • How you’re going to solve a problem
  • What makes your business unique

#4 Keep records | Document everything

As a business owner, learning how to properly document, and organize information, data, etc. is vital! From the very beginning of your business journey, you should keep records of the following information:

  • Business transactions
  • Passwords and login information to all business accounts
  • Contact information for anyone associated with the business
  • Filing deadlines or renewal dates for any necessary legal paper work associated to the business
  • Money spent on the business
  • Money earned from the business

Learning to keep track of this important information from the very beginning of your business ventures is so important! 

This step will help you create the Management and Organizational sections of your new business plan. This step will also help you finalize your Financial Projections and Funding Request sections of your new business plan.

See? You’re already steps ahead of most with “business dreams”, because you’re actually taking those dreams and making a plan…and we’re really proud of you for that move.

Just a few more steps and you’ll have a brand new Business Plan to show off to potential investors and even friends and family! Let’s finish this up…

#5 Make a major marketing plan

Because you took the time to cover the first four steps to creating a successful business plan, this next step won’t be too hard. 

It’s time to think about what demographics and areas you’re going to target when you decide to start marketing your new business, brand or product. This group of people will be considered your “Target Market”. 

Target Market: a particular group of consumers at which a product or service is aimed. (via Google Dictionary)

Once you figure out your target market, you can begin to construct a killer marketing plan.  Some important things to consider when creating a marketing plan are: 

  • What type of marketing do you plan to do? Digital, print, commercial, etc.
  • How much money do you plan to invest into marketing?
  • Who will create the necessary materials for your marketing plans? (ads, flyers, etc.)
  • What areas will your marketing efforts cover? (geographically)
  • What type of return on investment do you expect from your marketing plans? (ROI)
  • What platforms will you use to effectively market your business or product(s)?

#6 Explain WHY you care

The “why” behind your ambition to make this business idea a reality is such a powerful tool to use in not only your business plan, but all of your future efforts. Never forget your “why”!

Not sure of your “why”? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are your passionate about and why?
  • When did you decide to create this business?
  • What prompted your decision to create a business?
  • Why are you going to be different than your competitors?
  • What is your ultimate goal for your new business?
  • What have you been through in life that has prepared you to be a business owner?

Maybe you have yet to really think about your purpose or reason behind your business venture. Now is the time to dig deep and find that fire behind this “idea”. WHY is it going to be successful?

The answer to the above questions are going to be your fire. That fire is going to keep you warm when this business life gets cold and lonely (and it will). Never let that fire die. 

#7 Stay focused!

The last, and probably the most important, step to creating a killer business plan, is to STAY FOCUSED! Your success depends on it. 

All of the components of a business plan might seem a little overwhelming at first glance…but I challenge you to dive in and stay focused on the bigger picture. Completing this first step to creating a business, by outlining a business plan, is going to help shape you into the business owner you were born to be. 

I’m excited for you!

Now, go after those dreams!