By Fernando Berrocal
Building a business plan is one of the most difficult tasks for many startup entrepreneurs, particularly in the early stages. It's difficult to create a good business plan when you just have a vague concept of marketing strategy, no concrete proof of the business model, and no data with which to generate financial projections (as it is normally required for 3-5 years). Startup founders enquire about the best template to employ, which areas should be highlighted as priorities, and which items should be omitted from a startup business plan.
Should you prepare a detailed and solid business plan? No, you shouldn't. Why should you write all over pages trying to have a startup business plan that looks like a multinational organization? It's ridiculous, and it'll waste your energy and time. A starting business plan doesn't have to be a perfect, solid, and comprehensive document. It must clearly define your concept, value proposition, and business approach. In other words, a startup business plan comprises your vision of your organization's goals and prospects, as well as risks and problems, and strategies for achieving the former and overcoming the latter.
How should I begin my Business Plan? Sit down with your partners and team, organize a brainstorming session, and respond to the main following questions:
- What is the purpose of my business?
- What benefits does it provide to customers? What makes buyers want to buy my product and/or service?
- What is my potential market size?
- What are my objectives and how will I achieve them?
- What do I need to execute my strategy?
You don't need to read a book to learn how to develop a business plan; all you need to do is watch a brief presentation in which the author visualizes all of the essential elements of business plan writing. Start by writing down the answers to the questions on the list once you've answered them to yourself.
Are there any useful software or business plan templates? Sure, Google will turn up a slew of them. Let me highlight a few of the more intriguing ones:
- Free business plan templates from Entrepreneur: Entrepreneur offers several free templates. They have a Business Plan Non-Disclosure Agreement, a Business Plan Overview Template, an Executive Summary Template, and a Marketing Plan Overview Template for business planning.
- For a startup business, use the SCORE Business Plan Template: SCORE is a non-profit association that assists small business owners and entrepreneurs. They provide a well-structured startup business plan template that you can download and use to construct your own.
- On “businessplans.org”, you may find examples of executive summaries for business plans: A free sample of executive summaries of the top business plans may be found here. They provide a vast selection of business plan samples for a range of businesses and instances; all you have to do is pick the ones that apply to your field.
Remember that templates, samples, and software tools can only assist you in structuring and formulating information. Your true business plan should be the result of your study and knowledge of the future of your business.
By the way, most consultants will tell you that you should conduct research, understand your market, and clients before answering the questions in your business plan. It's self-evident that you should think about value, customers, market, and prospects before ever considering writing a business plan when building your startup concept, therefore you must already have some understanding of the answers to all of these issues. And, before you begin the deep investigation, it's recommended to write down your answers to these questions.
Start the deep inner studies when you have the initial draft on paper. Surf the web to learn more about your market, interact with potential consumers directly to better understand their demands, research your competition and their vulnerabilities, and evaluate your execution costs and possible profits for the first year.
After you've completed all of your homework, compare your first, partially instinctive responses to the outcomes of your research. Do you see a significant difference between your first and second responses? This is a turning point for many beginner entrepreneurs, where they give up and look for a job or a new business concept.
But if you're not one of them, not concerned about revenue declines due to competition or the volume of work to be done, you're in luck. Congratulations, you are probably one of those lucky entrepreneurial spirits who can handle the founder's challenges. Following your research, you should revise your business plan with additional facts, select the initial measures to take for execution and get started.
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