In today’s blog, I’ve taken another excerpt taken from the “The Top 10 Rules to Starting Your Own Business” e-book and expanded upon it. (To get the complete version of the book with 9 other killer “rules,” sign-up for your copy under the Free-Be’s section. It’s totally free.)
#2: Write it Down: The Power of the Business Plan
For the last near decade as an entrepreneur, I constantly get asked the question:
“How did you start your business?”
There’s no secret formula. Starting and running a successful business is an alchemic mixture of bravery, faith, tenacity, time, good advice, good timing and (rarely) some dumb luck. But if there is one thing I can unquestionably and definitively say preluded my success as an entrepreneur, it was writing a Business Plan.
Business Plans are subjective. They might be ten PowerPoint slides, hundreds of pages in a Word doc or anything in between.
(However, I would say Post-It notes don’t really count.)
To shed some light, my first business’s plan took over three months to write what turned into an 80-page manuscript. For the SimplyBe Agency, it took me two weeks to lay the ground work and I’m still refining it as I type this blog.
You might present your Plan to myriad groups and individuals. If you’re looking for investors, a Business Plan is an absolute requirement. You may show it to your mentors, or potentially to your top level hires. But here’s the bottom line: your Business Plan is ultimately for you.
It’s your master blueprint, the skeleton of which the blood, muscle and organs of your business will build around.
In it, you must establish:
- the full scope of your service, product or platform and what makes it valuable
- your core customers and how to market to them
- how you intend to operate on a daily, monthly and quarterly basis
- if, when and who you will hire to support the operation
- how will you legally set yourself up: as an LLC, C-Corp, S-Corp or otherwise, and why
- the competitive landscape and your competitive edge
- the current climate of your industry and where the greatest opportunity is, AKA the “lowest hanging fruit”
- ultimately, how you will monetize your company
FYI: Profit & Loss Sheets will become your BFFs. (Or quite possibly, your frenemies.) Either way, you will need them. And when projecting your revenues, don’t simply think forward into the next year. Think about the next two years, three years, five years. And whatever you financially project, slice that in half. That’s your probable revenue. (#Sorrynotsorry for the buzz kill. Resilience is a muscle. Learn how to flex.)
Think of working on your Business Plan as working on your actual business. There is no difference and the latter cannot survive without the former. Lastly, remember that writing your plan is a process. Give it time. It is a living breathing document that will shift, shed and evolve as you write it.
Have you ever written a Business Plan? Feel free to share your own insights and advice below. I would love to hear them.
Or, if you’re amidst writing a Business Plan currently and this blog stirred up some questions or comments, go ahead and ask!
Being an Entrepreneurial Babe ain’t easy. We are stronger together. Don’t ever forget that.