For start-ups, a business plan is absolutely necessary. Most funding sources will not even consider making an investment these days without one. The reasons for this are clear – businesses that take the time to build a solid business plan are more apt to stay on target and spend wisely while money is tight as the business grows. There is plenty of time later for fancy upgrades and improvements; when starting out, it is best to think small and grow large.
Having a formal business plan says a lot about how seriously a company takes its business. For investors, consumers and potential business partners, this means that business leaders recognize the company’s potential for success and are serious about fostering an environment that will help it to grow. Consider these players when developing a business plan for a complete and rounded business approach.
The bottom line of business is to make money. Business plans are designed to help express this purpose in financial and analytic ways, and to show prospective business partners and investors how their money will be spent and when to expect a return on their investment. If convincing investors is a necessary part of the success of your businesses, don’t skimp on this essential element.
Be Clear About What You Have to Offer
Ask yourself: Beyond basic products or services, what are you really selling? Consider this example: Your community probably has several restaurants all selling one fundamental product—food. But each is targeted at a different need or clientele.
One might be a fast food restaurant, another sells pizza, another sells sushi and wraps. All these restaurants sell meals, but they sell them to targeted clientele looking for the unique qualities each has to offer. What they are really selling is a combination of product, value, ambience and brand experience.
When starting a business, be sure to understand what makes your business unique. What needs does your product or service fulfill? What benefits and differentiators will help your business stand out from the crowd?
Identify Your Niche
Creating a niche for your business is essential to success. Often, business owners can identify a niche based on their own market knowledge, but it can also be helpful to conduct a market survey with potential customers to uncover untapped needs. During your research process, identify the following:
- Which areas your competitors are already well-established
- Which areas are being ignored by your competitors
- Potential opportunities for your business