You have the business idea, now you want to launch and grow your startup - but where do you go from here?
In the early stages of starting a business, it can be hard to see your way through. Getting started with planning, managing finances, and profitably can be intimidating. But with a solid business plan, it all becomes very possible.
In this blog, we will discuss three tips for starting to pull together an effective business plan.
Want to make sure your business plan is right from the start? Seek guidance from an experienced business mentor.
1. Start by creating a SWOT analysis
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Think of ‘strengths and weaknesses’ as characteristics of your business internally, and ‘opportunities and threats’ as issues affecting your business from the outside.
Conducting a SWOT analysis will both reveal your advantages and areas where your business is lacking. It will also pinpoint your most promising areas for growth — knowledge you can then turn into an actionable, effective business plan.
To do a SWOT analysis, divide a sheet of paper into four quadrants labelled Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. List your observations under each category. To generate ideas, reflect on questions like these:
- Strengths: What will my business do better than the competition? How will I ensure my products or services are high-quality?
- Weaknesses: Where might my business fall short? What constructive criticism have I received? What’s missing in my marketing, sales, or general operation plans?
- Opportunities: What more can I offer? What other markets can I target? What technologies could help me serve my customers better?
- Threats: What economic or industry trends could hurt my business? What are my competitors doing to attract more customers?
2. Understand the key elements you need to include in your business plan
A business plan is a clear roadmap for achieving meaningful goals. It will help you define and hit measurable targets. It is also a “living document” to be shared with partners and investors, and will help you ensure your business stays profitable.
Be prepared to include these key elements:
- Executive summary: A simple overview of the business and its overall mission.
- Opportunity: An explanation of the ‘gap’ your business can uniquely fill within the market.
- Execution: An elaboration on what you will actually do to fill the gap, including marketing strategies and specific business goals.
- Team summary: A list of key potential partners, along with their roles in helping you reach the identified goals.
- Financial plan: A forecast of how much money the business will need, and a breakdown of how it will be used. Use this to define ‘success’ and check that your business remains profitable.
Pro tip: Don’t start from scratch, use a business plan template as a guide. A template can streamline the entire process of creating a thorough business plan. It will also illuminate key areas of research for market analysis, such as your audience, competitors and purchasing trends.
3. Create a high-level business plan
Even before you know every single detail, a ‘lean’ business plan is a useful starter guide. It will reveal the finer points you will need to fill in. The bullet points will direct your research efforts and enable you to cover various parts of your plan, like sales strategies and financial forecasts, more fully later.
A high-level business plan will provide clarity and purpose for your next steps.
It can take a long time to get off the ground, but a solid business plan will ensure you are headed in the right direction.
To get your business off to a great head start, you will need a good business plan. It is a clear-cut framework for starting and scaling your company. In the plan-writing process, you will fully realise your strengths, identify where you can improve, and engineer a real strategy to make your business idea succeed.
If you are still unsure about your business plan, seek support from a business mentor for startups today, and get professional guidance from someone who has been in your shoes.