So you may have read my previous blog post; “What’s wrong with a business plan template?” Continuing with the theme of the business plan, let us get started with few more tips.
Start with what you know:
You may not be entirely familiar with all your business details. However, start with the basic information that you know you have. For this, it’s often easier to start with a blank document so that you can answer the 5Ws: Who, What, Where, When, Why. Yes, I know there is not a specific section for the 5Ws in a business plan, however, these are the kind of questions that will constantly come up throughout the plan and you will be able to plug in it later in its appropriate section.
- Who are you and what are your skills, education, and background?
- Who are you trying to sell your product or service?
- Who is within your networks that can help you start?
- What is the name of your business?
- What will be your legal entity?
- What service or product are you providing?
- Where can you purchase required supplies?
- Where geographically is your business located?
- Where can you find support, advice, and guidance?
- When, are you hoping to launch product/service?
- When is your business operating? (seasonal vs. all year round)
- When do you plan on working on the business?
- Why are you starting a business?
- Why is it the right timing?
- Why do you feel you are the right individual?
- How do you plan to financially support the start-up phase of your business?
- How will create this product or service?
- How do you plan to advertise? (Online, print etc.)
These are just a few you questions you can come up with. Questions help to narrow down your idea and understand the purpose behind your business. Word to the wise: starting a business is all about answering questions. Once you have answered one, you will have more!
Don’t give up!
There are so many ways to obtain information on daily basis. Stay informed and organized:
- Be informed: What is happening in the political environment? What are the economic challenges across the world? What is happing with technology? There is always something new to learn! Read about setting up your Google Alerts
- Constantly Brainstorm: You may recall while you were in school that you were encouraged to use the Mind Map method to start your report or essays. Well, time to take pen and paper and write down your goals and aspirations. It does not need to be perfect, but you do need to start.
- Stay focused: Use your smartphone to schedule your time to work on your business. Get familiar with the Gantt Chart.
- Choose a template and pull it apart!
There are many trusted sources online that provide you a great business plan template such as Futurpreneur, Business Development Canada, or Canada Business Network. Take the time to familiarize yourself with each.
The template is a skeleton, I cannot stress enough that you should not complete it from top section down to the last one in one shot. To make it easier (and less stressful) I recommend that you copy each category and paste it onto a new blank document.
In my opinion, a business plan is a collection of documents that are often created on its own but they all carry the consistency and messaging throughout.
Each section of the business plan merits you to take the necessary time and attention. The vision, mission, and objectives of your business must be the foundation that all initiatives and ideas will be born out of. When you can break down your business plan to bite size, it seems less overwhelming.
The activity above is to encourage you to do some homework before you get started on a business plan template.
Not sure what business to start? Read my previous post: “Brainstorm your way to a brand new business opportunity” to help you think of an idea!