Life Area: Professional
Many of my business coaching clients first come to me asking me to help them write a business plan. Whether they were just a start-up or had been in business for a number of years and were then seeking a capital investor for the first time, they found themselves, as many entrepreneurs do, unable to describe to outside third-parties the who, what , where, why, when and how of their business.
How To Write A Business Plan
Providing an overview of your business can be tricky, especially when you’re still in the early planning stages. If you already own an existing business, summarizing your current operation should be relatively easy; it can be a lot harder to explain what you plan to become.
What I advise them is to project out into the future and reverse engineer.
Think about what products and services you will provide, how you will provide those items, what you need to have in order to provide those items, exactly who will provide those items… and most importantly, whom you will provide those items to.
Sound like a lot? It boils down to:
- What you will provide
- What you need to run your business
- Who will service your customers, and
- Who your customers are
If you open a restaurant, what you plan to serve will in some ways determine your labor needs, the location you choose, the equipment you need to purchase… and most importantly will help define your customer. Changing any one element may change other elements; if you cannot afford to purchase expensive kitchen equipment, you may need to adapt your menu accordingly. If you hope to attract an upscale clientele, you may need to invest more in rent at a prime location and creating an appealing ambience.
How Do I Start Writing A Business Plan?
So where do you start? Focus on the basics first:
- Identify your industry: Retail, wholesale, service, manufacturing, etc. Clearly define your type of business.
- Identify your customer. You cannot market and sell to customers until you know who they are.
- Explain the problem you solve. Successful businesses create customer value by solving problems.
- Show how you will solve that problem. Describe your solution and how you are different from the rest.
If you are still stuck, try answering these questions. Some may pertain to you; others may not.
- Who is my average customer? Who am I targeting? (Unless you plan to open a grocery store, you should be unlikely to answer, “Everyone!”)
- What problem do I solve for my customers?
- How will I solve that problem?
- Where will I locate my business?
- What products, services, and equipment do I need to run my business?
- What skills do I and my employees need, and how many employees may I need?
- How will I differentiate from my competition?
Once you work through this list you will probably end up with a lot of detail. Start summarizing the main points; this will likely become much of the contents of your Executive Summary section.
Elements of a Business Plan
Your Action Step
The purpose of your business plan is to describe the who, what, where, why, when and how of your business. Remember, if you can’t describe in a sound bite who your customer is and what challenge of theirs you are solving, you won’t have any customers.
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I am a Success Strategist and Master Coach. I provide transformational coaching and training for individuals and organizations to help you Grow Your Life and Build Your Business by getting clear and focused on what you want, why you want it, and how to create it. Learn more about me at SuccessSeriesLLC.com.
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