If you run your own business, no doubt you have had ‘writing a business plan’, on your to do list for some time. But who has time for that, when you are trying to get your business off the ground, right? Wrong. According to many sources, 90% of internet start-ups fail. You can lessen those odds by writing a plan. After all, “failing to plan is planning to fail”.
This is why I have created an easy to follow summarised business plan, which you can do in four hours. If you need to raise capital or are asking a bank for a loan, you will need a more comprehensive plan. You can do that later. This will get you started and focused. It is also something you can share with suppliers, customers and potential partners who you’d like to invite come on board with you. So no more excuses.
Description. Write one paragraph which answers these questions: Who are you? What do you do? Where do you do it?
The vision. What will this business be in five to ten years’ time?
Brand promise. Write one paragraph. What will your company do for its clients?
Values. What are your core values that your business will stick to? Choose three and keep it short.
Objectives. Describe your business objectives. They should be long-term, e.g. in three years from now. They need to be SMART. ( specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) Choose three . (We only have four hours remember)
Market research. This can be a two or three paragraphs but need to cover the following. What do you know about your industry? Who are your competitors? Who are your target customers? What is your unique selling point? What methods are you going to use to deliver your brand message.
Sales. How are you going to generate leads, get in front of customers and close the sale?
Housekeeping. This is one or two paragraphs explaining the operations of the business. Include an organisational chart showing who is involved and where they are in the organisation.(No time to make a chart? Write a list instead) Include any business processes you may have. How are you going to measure quality satisfaction?
Financial plan. You should have three tables. 1. List of your start-up costs. 2. Revenue projections for three years. 3. Cashflow projections for three years.
Now, when I say you can do this in four hours, it’s a bit like Jamie Oliver’s meals in thirty minutes. Before Jamie starts his clock, his kettle is pre-boiled and his kitchen equipment is laid out on the counter before he even starts cooking. So get your grande skinny cap ready, laptop is on charge, kids are out of the house (if you work from home) and you make sure you have no distractions. Don’t answer email. Just sit down and write this plan. And in four hours, it will be done. You will feel so relieved to have crossed it off your list and you’ll have a plan to get working towards. You will also have just increased your chances of business success. Congratulations!