There are a number of businesses that have been around for centuries and are still waxing stronger, there are many others too that have barely stayed for few weeks before they crash. The primary reason some businesses find it difficult to survive is lack of proper planning. True some plan, but still meet with failure at the end of the day. This could be attributed to the fact that they fail to incorporate some ideas while drafting their business plan. It could also be because of other factors that they did not foresee when planning. Although businesses differ and approach towards establishing one may be quite different from the other, there are universal principles that are applicable to any business.
Whatever you plan to do, following the steps outlined in this article religiously may be just what you need to get going. These steps are the results of surveyed opinions of some successful CEOs and business consultants around the world. Irrespective of your culture or economy, they will work for you because its working for them.
Understand the situation
This step goes beyond the idea part. After the idea has been hatched, after your interest has been piqued regarding the business you intend to do, it is very important that you understand the business and the situation surrounding it. If you are about to start providing a service, get all the knowledge you need about such service. If it is sales or manufacturing, get to know the inside-out of the product you want to manufacture or sell.
Getting an understanding may require a special training in some cases. If what you are about to venture into is truly your passion, do not hesitate to get the training. The money and time invested now will form the investment that you will fall back on when challenges arise.
When writing your business plan, bring up as first point the understanding you have of the business you are about to start. It does not matter whether you are writing as a consultant or as the investor, a brief summary of what you know about the business will go a long way to serve as foundation for you.
Define your objectives
This is the part where you detail what you want to achieve, the area you will like to cover and time limit you have set for yourselves. Such objectives could be outlined or even tabulated. your columns could include, the serial numbers, the objectives, the time target.
Do you want your product to be the most recognized in the locality? What percentage of the market share do you plan to have? In which geographical location will you like to be known most? What is you USP, unique selling proposition? How do you want to use your strength to your advantage in the competitive market? Ensure to find answers to these questions. Ask them thoughtfully and think about them before providing answers. When you are sure that your answers are feasible, do not derail in the course of executing the business. Don’t be rigid with them either.
Define and and Segment your Market
The importance of defining the set of people you are seeking their patronage cannot be overemphasized. There is nothing like general market for any product or service. As popular as Coca cola is, it is not meant for everybody on earth. So think and think again about those who need you most. Think about those who can afford your product or service and think about those that will stay loyal to you once you get started. Think!
After bearing this individuals or groups in mind, it is important you outline them. No matter how many they are, even if they run into hundreds, outline them one after the other. Don’t mind the fact that this exercise will consume space on your paper, outline them vertically. You may chose to start from the most important one to the ones you consider as least important, you may also chose to list them alphabetically for easy references.
Determine your means of awareness and other strategies
Whether the business venture is new or old, it is important you create a level of awareness. This is usually done after everything has been put in place, just before the initial take off. But some organizations have adopted the strategy of using suspense in advertisement so as to make the audience look out for more.
Depending on your budget or on the size of the organization you are about to start, consider the options available to you in creating the needed awareness and strategy. You may need to use one or combine some of the following means.
Television Advertisement, Radio Advert, Newspaper, Internet, Billboards, Mobile advertisements, SMS, Fliers and posters. You may also create awareness for your products and service through roadshow and bonanza, sponsorships and other ‘below the line’ means of advertisement.
Budget, Source for finance
At this stage, caution is needed so you do not run into debt. If you are sure of the prospect of your business however, you may take your proposal to the bank. Alternatively, you may liquidate an asset or two of yours to raise fund for your business. Still, you may consider the option of getting soft loans from people who have a level of trust in you.
Whatever the source of your finances, endeavor to be as detailed as possible in your budget. Do not overlook any expense as being trivial. Even if you categorize some as miscellaneous, it must be after you have written out every penny you are suppose to spend. When the time for expenses come, strict to your budget.
There is no hard and fast rule about what you should put in your business plan. Following the steps here however will surely lead you to success. Even if you are yet to apply the things you have read, your comments or viewpoints expressed below will be appreciated.