A brilliant business idea is only the first of many steps on the road to success. Ultimately, your success will be decided not by the idea, but its execution. Taking the time to step back, think objectively and plan for its implementation is a crucial process for any start-up, no matter how big or small.
Any robust business plan should cover off the following areas:
- Business Overview – A key summary of the business. What does your business do and how does it make money.
- Marketing – Who is your target market and how will you reach them? Remember to be specific and realistic.
- Business Environment – An objective view of the business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This defines the key forces that will impact on your business both internally and externally. Then, how will you take advantage of, or overcome those key items.
- Operating – What are the details of the products and services you are offering? Including pricing, distribution, resources and technologies used, business location, insurances and registrations.
- Financial – What financial resources does the business currently have and what are your forecasts for the next 1, 2, 3 and 5 years. This should cover the projected profits or losses, the expected cash flows and the balance sheet.
- Goals and Objectives – What are your overarching goals for the first 12 months and the first 5 years. Set specific, realistic and measurable targets, then document the key points of action required and the timing of when these are to be completed.
Once your plan has been thoroughly documented, review it, revise it and review it again. Seek out your most trusted advisors and have them objectively review it so you can revise it some more.
An all too common mistake new business owners make is to fall into the trap of ‘confirmation bias’, where the strong emotional attachment to the business results in the adverse findings being ignored or brushed off. Now is the time to be realistic and identify as many of these negative drivers as possible and to document how you will overcome them.
Remember at all times to do your research, use the free tools and templates available and to seek as much external expert advice as you can.
by Isaac Manley