Imagine this. You jump in your new truck, turn the key in the ignition, firing up the engine, back out of your side driveway in New Brunswick, New Jersey and press your foot on the accelerator. As you drive passed your neighbor’s house, she asks where you’re headed. You holler out the window, “to Texas.”
You’re a Go-Getter, But Are You Prepared to Become a Creative Business Leader
You’ve never been to Texas before and don’t know anyone who lives in Texas. You’re a go-getter, not the least bit concerned about taking risks. But there’s one problem, one that hasn’t so much as crossed your mind yet, you don’t have a map or a GPS system.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of creative business leaders start new companies with this same mindset every year. They may know where they want to end up, but they haven’t stopped to think about how they will reach their final destination.
By creating a detailed business plan you can add vision to your start-up; you can also increase the likelihood that your vision will be fulfilled. In fact, consultants recommend that you develop a detailed business plan before you open your company.
Elements of a Winning Business Plan That Gets Funding
Elements of a detailed business plan are an executive summary, organizational structure, management team, marketing plan, line item financial reports, capital needed to fund the start-up, market analysis and the types of products and/or services your company will develop and/or sell. In the executive summary provide a general overview of your entire business plan. You can include a description of your company in the summary or you can create a separate summary.
Next, create a design of your company’s organizational structure. If you’re a solopreneur, this may only take a few minutes. Also indicate the numbers of years and breadth of experience members of your company’s management team have in the industry your business will operate in. For example, if you’re opening a computer repair company, indicate the number of years you have worked with computers (e.g. programming, software development, repair) as well as the types of jobs you have filled as a computer technician, focusing mainly on your experience repairing computers.
List the specific types of products and/or services your company will develop and/or deliver to other businesses, government agencies or consumers. In your market analysis, indicate who your customers are (e.g. federal government, hair salon owners). Also provide facts, figures and trends related to your competitors. As a tip, if you haven’t previously conducted market research consider hiring an experienced and reputable economist to conduct the market research for you.
More Components of a Detailed Business Plan to Secure Funding
Additionally, if you’re starting your business with your own money, indicate where the funding derives from (e.g. retirement savings, bank accounts). If you plan to reach out to banks for funding, indicate the amount of funding you need to start your business (e.g. $50,000, $100,000). Be prepared to describe how much funding you need for specific line items (e.g. marketing, product development, payroll) and why you need the specific amounts of money you indicate that you need. Also, be prepared to outline how you will repay any funding you receive.
The marketing and sales area of your business plan is where you will outline your marketing and promotion strategies, both online and offline. For example, you might indicate that you are going to conduct 15 radio and television interviews a year and write and distribute 40-60 press releases a year outlining new product releases, etc. You might also send 5,000 direct mail postcards to consumers each month, develop company social network pages and make cold sales calls a certain number of hours a day. The more you start thinking about your marketing and sales strategies, the more clearly you may start to envision where you need to tweak your financials.
Expect to spend a week or more developing a detailed business plan. This roadmap can keep you out of the woods. It can also help ensure that you remain on track, getting closer and closer to your goals as a creative business leader.
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