Hey there! Alex here, community manager of Station Seven, you may have found me in the comments of the blog or helping you with a theme question. Today we’re sharing with you a crucial step in planning your business that will save you time, money, and help you make decisions.
If you’re in the midst of building your new business you’ve been doing lots of planning, dreaming, and learning. It can be overwhelming to say the least, huh? Mike, Brittni, and I have all been there! Starting a business is not only trying to make a sale and build a dream life but also trying to make sure our business is headed in the right direction.
When starting my candle company, I created a basic business plan (similar to this one) so that I could reference it when making a decision, reviewing my goals and what I should work on, as well as seeing the actual costs of starting the business! It was incredibly helpful.
An important piece to clear the fog is a business plan. Businesses of all sizes create plans to assess where they are and guide where they want to go. There are several important pieces of a business plan and we’ll go through them here; be sure to download our free workbook to help guide you through the process.
The business summary reviews your business’ why and what. What’s your mission, purpose, and vision and what are you selling. Here you can create the clarity your business needs to make future decisions. When deciding on a new opportunity, you can ask yourself if it matches your purpose and the vision of your business. It’s SO helpful when you feel stuck and are trying to move forward.
What are your goals for your business? Similar to your vision, goals will help you aim and work towards something. Don’t over stress yourself and dream too big but definitely don’t dream small! Break down your goals into short term goals, then long term goals for 3, 6, and 12 months. When planning your week or monthly to-dos, reference these to see what areas you need to work on.
I’m not going to dig into SMART goals right now (this isn’t high school personal planning class), but it definitely helps to make goals that are easy to measure – not simply something like “write more blog posts,” but instead something like “consistently maintain a two post-per-week blogging schedule for the next six months.” You can see how much easier it is to track your progress towards the more specific goal.
Products + Services
As silly as it may seem, writing out exactly what you are offering and the breakdown of how much it costs and how much you’ll charge is insanely helpful. First, it checks that you’re charging enough money to make money and it helps make sure your offerings make sense to customers. There are a lot of strategies involved in pricing out your offerings, but a good place to start is to see what your closest competitors are charging and determine if your business would be profitable at that price point.
The Market + Market Knowledge
This section of questions focuses externally on your target market, competitors, and trends. It also focuses internally on your strengths, weaknesses and unique selling proposition. All of this information is key when it comes to creating an offering that works for your market and helps you stand out from your competitors. Of course, don’t get too caught up in your competitors! It can be incredibly valuable as you do your research to analyze your competitors, but avoid playing the comparison game once you’ve gotten started; once you’ve done your research, try not to look at them again. Focus on your business and you, it’s the only way to grow and move forward.
Marketing + Promotion
This section is really a chance for you to create a marketing plan – how will you grow your audience, advertise, and promote your business to customers? Will you use influencers? Facebook Ads? Or will you focus on organic growth through unpaid social media platforms?
Another important piece of marketing is your brand – the visual image of your business, as well the overall communication style. While this business plan doesn’t touch on that, we’ve made it dead simple for you to get started with branding in this post and this post.
Money time! Figure out what it’s going to cost you to start up, how much your expenses will cost, what you need to live, etc. As much fun as it is to figure out how much money you’ll need (just kidding!), it will be fun when you start making it and see where you started. Truth bomb alert – if it looks like money is going to be tight, it might be better to recognize sooner than later. This way you can plan on building up some savings before making any drastic changes so that when you are ready to focus on the business 100% you’ll have some extra cushion to keep you afloat.
Another fun section – legal info! Make sure to look into copyright, trademark, whatever your business may need in terms of protection – and check that you aren’t copying someone else! This section can vary depending on your business, but you may also need to check into insurance, health and safety, consumer rights, etc. You can also make a list of contracts you may need for future clients or customers. If you plan on incorporating your business, think about the pros and cons of the different corporate structures and determine which one will work best for you. Understanding this in advance can save you plenty of headaches (not to mention actual $$$) when it comes time to file taxes (boo-urns).
Ready to start?
Hopefully this doesn’t seem too overwhelming – sit down with a nice hot latte (or tea, or wine, or *insert beverage of choice here*) and you’ll find progress comes quicker than you think. Plus, consider it an investment in the success of your business. We promise it will help you see your business clearly and give you motivation for the future! What aspects of your business do you need to get a better perspective on?