Owning your own business sounds like a dream. Yet, sooner or later, the requirement to go through the Business Planning process will be knocking at your door.
Starting your own business is exciting, terrifying, and maybe a little bit of both. Getting your new venture off the ground will be an uphill struggle – that much is certain. But the reward for your efforts will be worth it: Owning your own business and having something to call your own! If you’re itching to start the
Business Planning 101
Already started the business planning process? That’s great! It shows that you’re motivated and ready to take things from point A (your current situation) and lead them in a brand-new direction.
Business Planning ― Tip #1: Know why you’re starting a business
Before you get all wrapped up in the logistics of your new business (and even before you’ve begun to start writing down your business ideas), you must know why you’re starting a business in the first place. You need to have a reason strong enough to weather entrepreneurship’s many ups and downs.
If you don’t know why you’re starting a business, or if it’s not something you’re incredibly passionate about, you might want to rethink your plans. After all, starting a business is a huge commitment – you must be fully committed to it and willing to put in the time and energy it will take to succeed.
Business Planning ― Tip #2: Write down your business idea(s)
After you’ve figured out why you’re starting a business, the next step is to write down your business idea(s). What do you want your business to do? What service or product do you want to sell? You’re beginning to create a roadmap for your future business by putting these ideas into writing.
In addition, writing down your business idea(s) forces you to think critically about your business and what you want it to do. It’s easy to get so caught up in the excitement of getting started that you overlook the fact that you must have a clearly defined idea. You’re actively working to ensure you have a solid foundation to build your business by putting your ideas in writing.
Business Planning Examples ― Tip #3: Define your niche and product
After you’ve written down your business idea(s), the next step is to define your niche and product. What are your business and product going to be? What service or product do you want to sell? The niche and product that you select for your business will go a long way toward determining your success or failure. It will help you to decide who your target audience(s) are and what need(s) your product or service will fill in their lives. By deciding on your niche and product before you move on to the next step, you’ll be able to make better use of your time and avoid spending it on pursuits that won’t benefit your business.
Business Planning Examples ― Tip #4: Research your market
After you’ve decided on your niche and product, the next step is to research your market. What do your customers want? What are their pain points? What are their needs? And, perhaps most importantly, how can you fill their needs? You want a good idea of your potential customers and their preferences to best position your product or service. If you’re planning to start a business in a highly competitive market, you’ll need to do more in-depth research and/or develop a truly unique and innovative product or service.
Market Research is vital. But what if you only have a limited budget? Let JTB guide you in our article Starting Up? Have a Limited Budget? Use These 5 Market Research Techniques.
Business Planning Examples ― Tip #5: Define your target audience(s)
Now it’s time to define your target audience(s). Who are your potential customers? What are their demographics? Why will they purchase your product or service? Figuring out the who, what, and why will help you to determine how to position your product or service best. You don’t want to randomly select a target audience based on what you think might sell. Instead, you want to carefully select the group(s) that would most benefit from your product or service and would be willing to pay for it.
Business Planning Is Critical for Funding ― Tip #6: Get to know your competitors
Next, you want to get to know your competitors. Who are they? What are they doing? What is their business model? You want to know everything you can about your closest competitors – including their products and business models’ strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, you want to know how your products and services compare to theirs and how they can improve upon them. This will help you to assess your strengths and weaknesses, which will come in handy when you get to the marketing stage of your business planning process.
Business Planning Is Vital for Success ― Tip #7: Write down your marketing strategies
After you’ve done some research on your market, competitors, and potential customers, you should write down your marketing strategies. How will you reach your customers? What strategies do you plan to employ to ensure your products and services reach the people who would benefit from them most? Are you planning to invest in paid advertising? What about inbound marketing strategies? Will you be attending conferences and/or hosting events? You’ll want to carefully select the marketing strategies that will provide you with the best return on investment.
Business Planning Is Unavoidable ― Tip #8: Decide on your startup costs and revenue forecast
Once you’ve decided on your marketing strategies, you should sit down and decide on your startup costs and revenue forecast. How much money do you need to get started? What are the bare minimum expenses you’ll need to operate and thrive? What kind of revenue do you expect your business to bring in? These are important questions to ask yourself, as they will help you figure out how long your business will take to become profitable and how much money you’ll need to get it up and to run.
Business Planning Is an Investment ― Tip #9: Create your basic operating plan
Now, it is time where you should create your basic operating plan. What does your business look like on a day-to-day basis? What are your goals for each month, quarter, and year? How do you plan to achieve those goals? What does your employee/management position structure look like? What does your office space look like?
These are all important questions to ask yourself and write down so that you can have a clear vision of what your business will be like daily. Answering these questions will help you effectively plan for your business’s future and ensure that you’re fully prepared for whatever might come your way. At this point, you have a solid foundation on which to build your business. You know why you’re starting a business, have a solid idea of your business, and have a general idea of how you’ll achieve your goals. Now, you just need to put your ideas and plans into action!
Business Planning Is Money Well Spent ― Tip #10: Decide on your business name and branding
Once you’ve created your basic operating plan, you should decide on your business name and brand. What do you want your business name to be? What do you want your brand to look like? This is an important step in starting your business, as it will determine how your customers see you and make them feel.
Your brand will be the face of your business and will make a lasting impression on every person that comes into contact with it. By carefully selecting your business name and brand, you’ll be able to effectively convey the core message and value of your business to potential customers. A strong brand will go a long way towards helping you to attract the right customers and keep the wrong ones away.
Starting a business is a big undertaking – there’s no doubt about that. It’s a long, hard road that will take a lot of time, energy, and effort to get your company up and running. However, the rewards for your efforts will be worth it. You’ll get to call your own shots, work in a field you love, and make a real difference.
A Little Bit Extra ― How to Choose a Business Plan Writer in your Business Planning Journey. We look at some Business Planning Ideas.
“How do you choose a business plan consultant/writer in South Africa?”
You may need to interview several different business plan consultants before deciding. In Gauteng alone, a handful of reputable business plan consultancies and a considerable number of other firms merely offer a generic/template/software-generated business plan service with no guidance, support, strategic advice or consultation. Therefore, it is more important to ensure you have positive answers to the following questions at this stage. Deciding on the cheapest business plan consultant may cost you much more in the long run. Business Planning is an investment. Perhaps one of the most important in your business journey.
Business Planning Ideas ― Why Do I Need to Hire a Business Planner?
A good business plan writer has experience working in and working with a broad range of businesses. The accumulated business experience and knowledge of a business plan consultant make the consultant valuable.
A good business plan consultant is experienced in many different types of businesses and industries while also having very specific experience in running companies, financing a company and, most importantly, in the marketing and sales of a company. In other words, a good business plan consultant has broad and specific business experience and typically 15 years or more of accumulated business experience. Having an MBA or CA qualification isn’t enough. To be an effective consultant, the business plan writer must have solid real-world experience with many companies and industries.
Business Planning Ideas ― Will the Business Plan Writer I Choose “Write” the Business Plan for Me? What do Business Plan Writers Do? Can Someone Write Your Business Plan?
Be wary of companies that promise they will merely, easily, and within a short time “write a business plan for you.” A reputable business plan company will develop a business plan in close consultation with you. Unfortunately, numerous so-called business plan “experts” in South Africa will ask you to provide them with very little information.
Then they write the entire business plan without meeting or speaking with you. This type of process will produce a poor-quality business plan. As a client, you are the expert in your business and should walk side-by-side with the business plan consultant throughout the entire business plan writing process. This consultative process will ensure that they produce a business plan that will be effective and improve your chances of success.
Business Planning Ideas ― I have Limited Cash Available! How Can I Afford the Services of a Business Planner?
How can you not? Even though sufficient cash may not be available before starting your company, you cannot make many mistakes before you find yourself quickly out of business. Therefore, spending money on the services of a business plan writing company shouldn’t be seen as an expense but rather as a time to invest in your company’s strategic direction and market positioning.
Business Planning Ideas ― Should I Take a Cautious Approach when Choosing a Business Plan Writer?
Like any supplier you evaluate, you should ask yourself the question:
“What is important to me”?
The business plan consultant should be with you at the beginning, middle, and end of the business plan writing process. While this personal approach may take a bit longer, the extra time spent on your project will make a noticeable difference in your confidence and the quality of your business plan. And, when you sit down face to face with a potential investor, you will be fully conversant with all aspects of your business plan.
When someone tells you, they can complete your business plan in a few days or merely gives you a business plan template suggesting that all you should do is insert your data where noted, what you are looking at is the proverbial money down the drain.
Like any prospective customer is cautious before buying from you, you too should do a thorough Market Analysis and Due Diligence.
Be very careful! Some companies operate this way as it is easy to make quick money. Be extremely cautious of “generic” or “template” business plans, whether you find these generic templates in your Google search, in a bookstore, in cheap business plan software or from a business plan consultant. Numerous so-called business plan writers take this approach and charge you next to nothing for such a service. There is no such thing as a generic or template Business Plan.
Make sure you partner with a reputable business plan company that takes an approach to ensure that the final product is “your” plan and not a “generic” plan produced by a business plan software program or inexperienced business plan writer.
Business Planning Ideas ― Will the Business Plan that a Business Planner Write Guarantee Investment Funding?
All South African investors and financiers require a sound and feasible business plan for funding approval, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee capital funding. Every investor will evaluate several criteria when making a business loan or investment decision.
They typically consider the validity/viability of the business- and financial model, the entrepreneur’s experience, market potential, solid market research, use of funding, ability to repay the business loan, the entrepreneur’s personal credit history and the collateral available to secure the loan. As with a job interview, the responsibility remains that of the client to “sell” the business plan and venture/concept to potential investors.
Business Planning Ideas ― Why is it Important to Use a Business Plan Writer? Is it Worth Writing a Business Plan?
Business planning is vital, and a specialist utilises many different outlooks to develop a business plan focused on your company. The business plan consultant gets the opinions of your colleagues, co-shareholders and management team and uses the experience gained across various markets and industries to write a unique business plan that will address your exact requirements.
Most new entrepreneurs have specific technical knowledge about their intended business venture, product and service. Unfortunately, these entrepreneurs aren’t always fully conversant with a company’s management, business planning principles, market research, financial projections, sales, marketing, etc. An experienced Business Planner can be of extremely good value as they will partner with you and guide you on these aspects, providing you with useful information and an opportunity to learn new skills and obtain new knowledge.
Business Planning Ideas ― Is it Important for the Business Plan Writer to be Local?
With video conferencing, Skype and email widely available, there is no reason to limit your search to local business plan consultants. If you have no fear of throwing a wider net in search of the best business plan consultant for you, you can use this technology to connect with individuals you may never meet in person during the process. For example, why not put a Gauteng-based business plan consultant in competition with a Cape Town-based business plan consultant; if you are comfortable with virtual collaboration methods (Zoom, telephone, email, etc.)?