The essentials to creating an effective business plan for entrepreneurs

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Being an entrepreneur often entails a few things: Being open-minded and passionate about your specific niche, having many market focused ideas and being eager to take action and start a business when your idea is validated through research. 

We get it; it’s exciting when you get that idea and you want to launch into it straight away, some ideas can instantly feel perfect, and inspiring from the get-go and draw your whole heart and focus. 

There is a shared testament amongst entrepreneurs; the famous words that encapsulate Nike; one of the biggest brands on the planet – to ‘just do it’ opposed to sitting and thinking too much about your course of action. These are fair and wise words, yet it pays to take time to plan. Harvard business review confirms that entrepreneurs who write business plans are more likely to succeed. 

So here is our guide to the essentials of creating a timely business plan for eager entrepreneurs keen to bring their dream to life.

Do I really need to write a business plan?

Part of the beauty about the success stories you hear about entrepreneurs who have found success in their businesses by adding value to the market;  is the unique nature of everyone’s story. The nature of entrepreneurship promotes a diverse culture where anyone with enough drive and some smart business skills can find success. From this has derived many fruitful and inspirational journey’s that began without a business plan, and thus many entrepreneurs don’t believe that creating their own is worth their while.

So YES! It’s critical to write a business plan before you begin. Leverage the people around you that are business-minded to assist you. Nothing is stopping you from leveraging your network to enable this.

Why a business plan is important

Constructing a business plan is worth the time it takes. While it doesn’t guarantee success, planning is often the difference between success and failure in any aspect of life, it’s no different when it comes to business. 

Writing a business plan can hold many benefits for all kinds of start-up ventures. In making one, it’s important to focus on creating a blueprint for a successful business that you can base your venture off. It should validate the following:

  1. There is a market demand
  2. Is it a blue or red ocean?
  3. Can we/i fulfill that demand

Your objective with a business plan is to treat it with the scientific method in mind. We also reach you this during week 1 of the online creator institute. This would include the background research component of our exercise.  As the primary stakeholder, this will protect your most valuable asset time in the long run. 

It isn’t just important to understand your idea, but an entire foundation of the industry you are seeking to enter into and the target markets you are positioned to add value too.

Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly; if you are  seeking financial backing from investors – you must have a business plan! Potential investors will want to see that you have a framework around your venture and realistic measures of your success.

Put simply, as far as I’m concerned, there are only upsides preparing a business plan and no real downside. So spend a day or two working on one before you spend a year working on a business that the market doesn’t want.

What should a business plan include?

An effective well-rounded business plan that will perfectly support your business should have most if not all the following sections. 

There’s a lot to cover, but we’ll keep it simple and explain the essentials and you can take it from there. It’s important when trying to remain as objective and logical as possible.

Executive Summary

The first part of your business plan should touch on multiple features of the business to capture the profile of the venture and brand. Importantly, this section contains a concise outline of the company’s purpose and goals for the immediate and long term future,  a description of the products and services provided, an analysis of the market, and reasoning on the viability of the business. If the business plan is created for the intent of raising funds from investors then it should include an overview of financial needs.

Objectives

This section builds off what was addressed in the executive summary in regards to short and long term objectives. It should detail a number of short and long term objectives for the business that can be used to measure and record its success. 

Accompanying this should be a description of the keys to success that will be required for these objectives to be achieved.

Products and services

This section again builds from the executive summary. It needs to showcase a relatively detailed description of how your products or services will be acquired, provided, and delivered. Analysing manufacturing and resource requirements or storage and delivery needs is important, even if it’s just an estimate.

It should also address what makes your product or service different from your competitor’s and outline any trademarks/patents/copyrights that you will need to proceed. 

Market Opportunities

It’s critical that you possess an understanding of the market you are entering and in this section, it’s key to convey this understanding into words for clarity and to convince yourself and others you know what you’re into. 

This will require some research, but it’ll put you in a very strong position when it comes to determining the best market positioning for your business. A good business plan analyzes and evaluates customer demographics, purchasing habits, buying cycles, and willingness to adopt new products and services. The aim is to thoroughly understand the characteristics and purchasing ability of potential customers in your market.

Sales and marketing

Creating and outlining a well-thought marketing plan that is backed by research to generate sales is essential to your businesses success. With limited funds at the beginning of your business’ life, it’s critical that this is invested carefully to provide optimal results.

Competitive analysis

Every business is going to have competition and it’s important to research all competitors and potential competitors within the market you are trying to enter. This can be time-consuming but it is deeply beneficial to conduct a SWOT (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to the best of your ability on both this competition and yourself in order to evaluate your position in the market and how to best infiltrate the market.

Financial analysis

Financial projections and estimates help entrepreneurs and investors or lenders objectively evaluate a company’s potential for success. If a business seeks outside funding, providing comprehensive financial reports and analysis is necessary.

Most importantly, financial projections based on your research tell you whether your business has a chance of being viable.

Once you have written your business plan and are ready to take on the following challenges of starting your business – head to www.onlinecreatorinstitute.com to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge to drive your success.