The five key steps to creating a business plan

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It's always night on the road of small business. You need a plan.

When you're starting out, clear ideas of what you want to achieve and how to get there should be your guiding lights. Make them as bright as possible by creating a business plan which suits your personal journey.

Create a plan from scratch and you'll always see the way forward.

1. What is the need you're addressing?

Your business is designed to fill a gap somewhere and you'll need to figure out what that is. Define the problem that your business is solving and make it so simple and clear that anyone can take a glance and immediately know what you're all about.

Once you know the problem, you can then create a solution. How will your business be that solution and how well will it do it?

2. Who are your potential customers?

Once you work out the problem and the solution, you'll need to determine who is going to care. That means customers. Where will demand for your business come from and what exactly will motivate them?

Market research is your friend here. If you consider your business to be large and commercial or if you're aiming to celebrate how niche it is, it will always pay to do the groundwork to see what people want and why they're going to want to get it from you.

3. Understand your competitors

Know your enemy! Even if you believe your business is unique, there's a good chance somebody is doing something similar to you. You'll need to understand what they're doing, why they're doing it and most importantly, how you can do it better. 

This is all about having an advantage. You're not keeping an eye on the competition to copy what they're doing, you're just figuring out the easiest ways to stay ahead of the game. Which will result in a better position for you now, and in the future.

4. Plan your financials

Money is the only way you'll keep your business afloat. If you spend more than you make, you'll be closing down before you know it. The best way to avoid this is to get a clear idea of three financial areas: Starting Out, Costs To Operate and Future Projections.

Always take the time to write down everything you'll need to pay for. Tools, licences, permits, equipment, rent, insurance and more. As your business evolves and grows, any unexpected cost & revenue surprises will be taken into account instead of emptying your bank account.

5. Market your business

Get the word out! Whether you're a storefront, online marketplace or something in between, the only person who's going to sell your business is you. Work out the best ways to do this that fits your business and your industry.

Stay informed of the latest marketing trends, online media and commercial opportunities so you can always be active and have your finger on the pulse. Otherwise, all your hard work will just sit there waiting to gather dust.

Tips to keep in mind

  • Preparation, preparation, preparation
  • Overbudget to keep safe
  • Know your market, know your industry
  • Stay on target

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