It’s amazing how quickly an idea can come to you, and mostly when you aren’t even trying. Whoever came up with the shower caddy was just taking a shower and needed more space for his Old Spice collection. You’re in an everyday situation, a need appears, and you have this brilliant lightbulb moment where you figure out a way to fill that need – and the first seed of a business plan is planted. But that seed needs to be nourished in order to grow. There’s research to do, kinks to be worked out, money and resources to procure, people that need convincing. The list can get overwhelming after that initial creative jolt your brain just offered you dies down. It’s important to stay motivated! And to create a business plan that will get you noticed. The U.S. Small Business Administration requires the following: – an executive summary – a description of your company – research from a market analysis (breakdown of competition & need for your product/ service) – an organizational chart and management breakdown – a narrative of your product or service – a description of your marketing strategy, (request for funding if needed) – reasonable financial estimates – relevant resumes, leases, or permits (optional)
1. When describing your business, be ambitious and passionate, but also honest.
It’s incredibly difficult to take in the bigger picture of what your business looks like to the outside, because it’s your baby. But it’s also incredibly important. When writing your business description, straddle the line between passion and confidence and honesty and reality. No product or service is perfect. If you’re honest about the obstacles you’ll face in your description, it shows a potential investor you don’t have your head in the clouds. It shows you’ve done your research on your competition and aren’t naïve about the pitfalls about becoming an entrepreneur. Be realistic when determining the value your company will bring to consumers and other companies and use real value language instead of conceptual ideas. When you think you’re done, read over it in the mind of an investor and ask yourself if you would fund this plan.
2. When laying out your business plan, get detailed. Really, really detailed.
Ask yourself a million questions when showing off your plan to start this business and keep this business afloat. How will I keep track of cash flow? What permission from the city do I need to provide my service/sell my product? Where’s the best place to set up shop to get the most traffic for the service/product I offer? The best plan answers all the questions the investor will ask before he has a chance to ask them.
3. When creating your business goals, predict your future, near and far.
Everyone knows that question asked in every interview to determine if a job candidate is there for the long haul, “So, where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. Keeping in mind our first goal (to be optimistic but realistic), lay out your future financial goals and projections in a year, 5 years, and 10 years. It’ll be tough because the economy changes, technology changes, etc. But what matters is that you’re trying to think that far. You’re showing that you’re looking beyond the now and thinking what you can do to stay relevant and profitable in the following years.