Congratulations! You’ve started a business and you’ve come to the right place to learn what to do next. The steps you’ll take from here are all defined and will, when completed, create a comprehensive business plan. Let’s get started!
Question: What product or service are you bringing to the market?
Analyze these questions and answer them thoroughly and thoughtfully: Is the product or service you’re providing one that is truly needed? Is it essential, useful and profitable? Will your product or service bring something beneficial to consumers? Are you committed to your product or service?
Question: Who is Your Customer?
Before starting any business, you’ll want to understand who will buy your product or service. You will want to meet the needs, problems or wants of your customer with solutions that are satisfactory and complete. Ask the following questions to define your customer:
- Where do my customers live or work?
- What price will my customers be willing to pay for my products or services?
- What age range is my customer?
- What lifestyles do my customers have – busy professional, young adult, stay-at-home mom?
Answering these questions will give you a sense of your customer, what that customer needs or wants and what the customer is willing to pay for it.
Question: Who is Your Competitor?
Just as you’ve defined your customer, you’ll want to understand your competitors, if any. Ask these questions to learn what is valuable to know about your competition:
- Who are my competitors and where are they located?
- What unique or special value do my competitors bring to customers?
- How large are my competitors’ businesses?
- What are the pricing models of my competitors?
- What are the marketing strategies used by my competitors?
Answering these questions will give you a sense of your competitors, what they offer and how they price their offerings. Use this information to add to your understanding of your clients.
Define: The Mission and Objectives of Your Business
You’ve answered tough questions and created detailed answers. Your next task is to define the mission and objectives of your business. Why does your business count? What is the purpose of your business and why do you care about it?
Define: Your Financial Projections and Funding Needs
Every professional business plan contains sufficient financial projections which include both expected income from sales revenue and expenses associated with launching and running the business. This will help potential investors understand the financial needs and potential of your business. When calculating your financial projections, consider the cost of marketing, product development, and other necessary investments.
Define: Your Marketing Strategies
Developing a solid marketing strategy is essential for the success of your business. Combine both online and offline marketing strategies and techniques to reach potential customers. Spread brand awareness by using social media callouts. A comprehensive marketing plan considers digital advertising, public relations campaigns, social media outreach and traditional print materials. Use any or all of these, as desired.
Detail: Your Operational Plan
Setting your operational plan in place is dependent on the products or services your company will provide; however, some basic elements are always in place. You’ll want to secure a location for your company and ensure it meets the requirements of the business. Purchase office equipment, computers, software programs, and furnishings. Supply employees with needed work-related tools and equipment. Hire and train employees and set protocols in place.
Obtain any licenses or permits needed and purchase insurance to cover buildings and any vehicles. Cover your employees with worker’s compensation insurance and review safety protocols with all employees. Engage a bookkeeper or accountant to keep financial records and create payrolls, as well as pay quarterly taxes in a timely manner.
Complete: Your Business Plan
Place all elements of your business plan, including your target audience and competitor research, the mission and goals of your company, financial projections and funding needs, and your marketing strategies into one comprehensive plan. If you do not have a comprehensive plan, use this business plan template for a startup business. Utilize this plan as needed to secure funding, gain investors or stakeholders or borrow funds for expansion.
You just started a company and you’ve now completed a comprehensive business plan as your first step to long-term growth and success. What comes next? You’ll put your business plan to very good use. We wish you every success!
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