If you have decided to go into business for yourself, do not jump in without some careful thought. You need to come up with a plan, and then you need to present it; either to a loan officer, potential partners, or to the buying public. The following are tips for developing a business plan:
- Start by making a quick draft of your intentions and goals. It will help to solidify your objectives in your own head, which at first may simply be buzzing with good ideas. It may take you weeks to do this, but once you know where you are headed it will continue to grow and perfect itself more easily.
- Find the business plans of other companies that are selling a similar service or product. You can tell by their success rate which plan was the most effective. The internet is a good tool to use.
- Ask as many people with business sense as possible for their thoughts. They may not come up with better ideas, but they may point out the flaws in yours.
- Be prepared to explain to possible partners and investors why your product or service is better than others already out there. Show examples of how your ideas will make it easier, cheaper, or safer to use.
- Detail your qualifications (or those of your management team if you have one), and show them that you are capable of producing, servicing, or marketing your product.
- Don’t try to impress with your language. Using simple terms, describe your objectives, your product or service, what you intend to charge, and how you can compete with the competition.
- Be realistic about start up costs, break even timelines, and profits. Investors want to know how much you need, what you need the money for, and how long it will take to get up and running, and when you can expect to bring in profits.
- Have a marketing and sales plan ready for those who ask. Show every step you will take to achieve the sale of your product or service.
- Know the sales statistics for the area you are targeting.
- Make sure that the plan you present, be it written or oral, is professional. First impressions matter.
Don’t forget that your business plan represents you, so don’t promise unrealistic goals. Target one area that is tried and true, and worry about expansion when you have been proven right.