November was National Write a Novel Month, and while many small business owners could write several books on their experiences, strategies and advice, we’d like to suggest channeling your writing energies into a great business plan. And NOW is the perfect time to get writing! December is National Write a Business Plan Month.
We know it can seem tedious to stop and write a business plan. You are an entrepreneur and want to jump ahead and start doing the actual work. You have ideas in your head of how things will transpire when you start your company and you don’t want to “waste” time writing out all the details of how it will work. BUT, a well thought out and well written business plan can save you money – and make you money.
We suggest starting with a basic business plan that you can then expand upon once you begin doing the work and working through your plan. Here are some of the key areas to address in your business plan and why they are important:
All business plans start with an Executive Summary. This should be a complete snapshot of your business plan including your mission, vision, goals and how you plan to achieve your set goals. While you may be tempted to write this first, DON’T. Trying to write a summary of your business plan will limit your creativity and scope. We suggest taking time to write all the independent sections of your business plan first, edit them, and then finish your plan by writing your Executive Summary LAST. Also, you’ll likely be able to cut and paste most of the content for your Executive Summary from the other parts of your plan, making it a relatively quick part of your plan to finish.
This important section will really make you do some homework. In this section, you must explain what your industry is – both quantitatively and qualitatively. In other words, how big is your industry and what are your competitors doing? This section isn’t about the details of your company. This section is about your competition and your place in the market. By defining your industry and how other businesses are faring, you’ll be able to present your company as a solution to a problem or the answer to a need as you’ve defined in your industry market analysis.
This is the section where you can now describe your business and how you will differentiate your business from any other similar companies in your industry. In this section you’ll also want to specifically identify your target audience/clients. You’ve already talked in broad strokes about your industry’s audience in the market analysis, but now you want to get specific. Are you targeting a specific age group or other demographic, a certain geographic area of clients, etc…? The more specific you can be about how your company fits in its market and who its audience/clients are, the more likely you’ll succeed at acquiring financial support from investors or banks who will understand your plan and also see the need for your business in the market as you’ve defined.
Management and Organization
A good business plan will not only list an organization chart and job descriptions of all its employees, but also a plan for growth. Human capital is one of the greatest assets of any organization. Great people in the right positions yield great work product. Many startups suffer from overworking their staff as they grow, reluctant to bring on more people because they either don’t want to afford the additional expense, and/or they haven’t thought about the new jobs they need to create for additional staff.
If you are a business looking to make a plan for scaling up your operations, or perhaps you are already a start-up looking for strategies to address growth, let us help you. Our experts at Salt Lake Staffing can help you maximize your human capital by addressing your staffing needs with clear strategies. Whether it be bringing on a specially trained engineer for a temporary project, starting a customer service department with competent, caring professionals, or finding the right programmers to develop the next phase of your product line, Salt Lake Staffing will find you the best people to fit your company’s culture.
Marketing and Sales
This important section is all about how you are going to sell your business. Ok, not literally sell it to another owner, but rather, how are you going to sell your product/service to that audience you described earlier? How are you going to connect with clients and engage people in your business? And don’t just list social media platforms here. Seriously.
Start with the big picture. Who from your staff will do the marketing for the company? Are there separate sales people? How are you going to launch your business? Are you partnering with any local organizations that support small businesses? There are many local business organizations in Salt Lake City that offer a wide variety of services to help launch and promote new businesses. Some provide ongoing networking opportunities throughout the year for member businesses. Check out these resources in Salt Lake City, or look for similar organization in your city or town:
Services and/or Products
In this section, you should go into detail about all the products/services you offer. This section is where you explain all the aspects of what you are selling. Details matter here. You should also think about explaining what you make/service now, and what the next evolution will look like. Showing that you are thinking beyond your current offerings will show potential investors that you are already thinking about growth and scaling up your business. You need not go into detail about these future aspirations, but you should go into great detail about your current offerings.
Request for Funding
Funding can, and should come from a variety of sources. As you use this business plan to seek funding, you must explain how you plan to fund your business from a variety of sources. Are there small business or startup grants available for your company? Do you have any investors already lined-up? Do you plan to obtain a business loan?
Talking about how you will obtain the capital you need to start your business will also help you create a roadmap to accessing those funds. Many grants and loans require matching funds, so knowing where all your funding is coming from, and explaining that in your plan will help secure the funding you need.
Finally, you must show that your business is viable. You must use financial data to summarize everything you’ve described in writing. You must put numbers to your upfront investment, to your human capital, (what you pay employees, what benefits cost, insurance, etc…) to your marketing strategies, (what it costs to make the promotional videos you plan to post on YouTube, what online ads cost, what direct mail materials cost, etc…), and to your actual products (what it costs to make the thing or provide the service you will sell). Your financial data here should be projected out in a three to five year plan, showing anticipated raises in expenses as well as increased revenue as your business grows. Showing this data and how investors’ funds will be used – and when they can anticipate seeing a return on their investment – is an extremely important component of your business plan.
These suggested sections are simply a guideline to creating your business plan. There are many other areas of detail you could include. And, there are many great resources available for help in creating your business plan. Many of the organizations listed above have services for helping entrepreneurs put together business plans, and there are service providers you can pay to assist with the writing of the plan itself. Ultimately, you need to craft your plan to ensure your success. You need to craft it and use it as your guide. Write your plan with goals and aspirations, and use it as a roadmap to make those happen! Follow the map you’ve created for yourself and find success at the end of the road.
And should you need help addressing the human capital needs of your business, let Salt Lake Staffing help you come up with great strategies and solutions for finding the best employees at every phase of your business’ growth.