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An Easy-to-Understand Guide to Creating a Business Plan

An Easy-to-Understand Guide to Creating a Business Plan

As Winston Churchill once said, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.” While this is undoubtedly true, the plan itself is extremely important as it must contain certain things if you’re going to achieve a high level of success. Things that will blow your competitors away. Things that will help you earn high enough profits to take care of you and your family both now and in the future.

If you’re relatively new to the business world, it can be easy to be overwhelmed with terms like “market analysis” and “executive summary.” So overwhelmed, in fact, that you decide to not even make a business plan. However, it doesn’t have to be that hard.

In an effort to put the business planning process in simple to understand terms, here are five things that yours absolutely must have if you want your business venture to be a complete and total success:

Your Differentiator

Your business plan needs to highlight your USP, which stands for Unique Selling Proposition. In other words, what makes you different (which ultimately means better) than your competitors? Do you have lower rates or faster service? Are you more customer friendly or do you use a higher quality of materials?

You need to recognize and be able to spell out what you can do for clients that the others in your field do not or cannot do. Essentially, you have to give people a reason to choose you over your competitor – or they won’t.

This is no time to be vague as the minor details are generally what make the biggest difference. After all, if you don’t know what makes you special, no one else will either and your business will pay as a result.

The Basis of a Solid Marketing Strategy

In order to become successful, you have to first become known. So, you’ll want to create a marketing strategy that gets you noticed. This is actually a process, but one that is very beneficial if you follow all of the steps.

First, you want to define who your target market is. What does your ideal client look like? Are they male or female, old or young, educated or poor, single or married? The more you can visualize this person, the easier it will be to talk to them in a way that they will understand.

Second, find out what keeps your target market awake at night. Specifically, what problem are you going to solve for them? How can you be a benefit to them?

Third, you need to know where your target market spends a lot of their time. For instance, are there social media sites they are more inclined to use or are they avid television watchers of specific channels? Identifying their exact hang-outs tells you where you should be directing a majority of your marketing efforts.

Once you have all of this information you can create a marketing strategy that is more effective and geared toward the person most likely to do business with you. You’ll have a clearer image of how to get yourself in front of them in a way that they respond to.

The Steps You’re Going to Take to Grow Your Business

It’s not enough to think about what you want your end result to be in regard to your business, but you also have to know what steps you need to take to get you there. You’ve got to outline each one individually so you have a clear and concise path to follow. If you don’t, you’ll reduce the likelihood of actually getting where you intend to go.

Sometimes it helps to look at the steps in reverse order, that way they aren’t as overwhelming. Taking this backward approach also forces you to take an analytical look at your business without being inundated by emotion or feelings of “I can’t do this.”

Start with a vision of your successful future business and think backward about the steps you had to take to get you there. Break each one down as far as you can so that you don’t miss a step that could inevitably affect your success. Think about your budget, personnel, supplies, building needs, and anything else you’ll need to run a highly successful business and apply them accordingly.

How Your Business Will Be Structured

Creating a successful business is like building a structure. Every piece (boards, nails, and such) has to be in its proper place in order to be solid and strong. To achieve this requires that you put the right people in the right place within your company.

To help you do this, you’ll want to answer the following questions:

  • What positions do you need to create in your company to run as fluidly as possible?
  • What duties will each position be responsible for?
  • What type of qualifications should each person have for each role?
  • Where will you find the people who will fit the roles best?
  • What is your hiring and firing process?

Deciding the structure of your business and who to put where can mean the difference between creating a business that flounders under the pressure and one that withstands any element it is subjected to. In other words, the more you know who you are looking for, the easier it will be to spot them when they appear before you.

Specific Financial Projections

Setting specific financial projections gives you a gauge by which you can measure your success. For instance, if your financial projections are close to the $1 million mark and you’ve managed to barely clear $100,000, then you know that something is off and readjustments need to be made.

How do you project your financial future? You look at market trends to develop a basic idea of what you can expect, but you can also delve into your competitor’s public records to get a clearer view too. This is extremely important if you will be requesting money from a financial institution or investor because they’re going to want to know how you plan to make good on the money they give to you.

Developing a business plan definitely takes time and effort, but as long as you have all of the key elements it is time and effort well spent!

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by Christina DeBusk // Freelance writer, author, and small business consultant committed to helping entrepreneurs achieve higher levels of success.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.