When you decide it’s time to get your business started, you’ll find the first piece of advice given by most experts is to “get a business plan written”.
And they’re right; that is the first step to turn your business dream into a reality. But many people find it the hardest step to make.
No wonder. When you look at most business plan advice handed out by these experts, they tell you to pull together all sorts of information that might seem kind of irrelevant to you.
For example you might be asked to explain the revenue model, the management structure and your five year strategy.
You might also be encouraged to put together predictions of how much you will sell over the next three years. It’s called “forecasting” and essentially it’s asking you to try to predict the future!
If you haven’t started a business yet, how on earth could you know all of this detail? Of course you couldn’t. What you’re putting together there is not really a business plan. It’s a fantasy business document. And it’s not really there to help you.
A traditional business plan isn’t for you. It’s for the banks or any other investors that you are hoping will sink money into your new venture. A business plan is a way to demonstrate that you know what you are doing and that investors will get a return on their investment.
However lost of people who start their own business don’t need funding. If that’s you, then you still need a business plan – but you need a business plan for you and not for the bank.
There are essentially only four things you need in your business plan:
This is about setting a realistic goal for your new business. It’s vital to have something to aim for, and a way of measuring when you have achieved it.
The easiest goal in a new business is a financial one, such as “I will turn over £50,000 in my first year trading”. You may not be financially motivated, but money is the best measure of how well your business is doing. You should pick the items that best motivate you.
Often a spread of targets work best and will ensure you are working on all the most important elements to successfully establish your new business. For example you may aim to do these things within the first 12 months:
Once you know what you want to achieve, you need to plan how you will do it. Even if you will be working on your own it’s important to consider what systems you will need in advance. The clearer your thinking can be about this, the faster you will be able to move.
Consider what the realistic day to day demands of the business will be and plan the solution. At all times be realistic – you might dream that you’ll be able to meet with 10 clients a day, every day… but in reality it is highly unlikely you will have the energy to achieve that every day.
Remember that your business plan is not to impress other people; it is a realistic document to help you achieve your business goals faster.