Business plan is a scary phrase. The plan itself isn’t scary, but just requires a lot of thought and no interruption to complete. It isn’t something you should build in an hour, but rather something you should look at as a project to be completed in focused sessions on each topic, ideally with a coach or mentor to help.
For the new business, you will want to collect some of the following things to start:
- Industry averages – after all, it’s pretty hard to come up with what to expect when you don’t have a baseline. I use Bizstats.com (free!) but there are several sites you can look over, such as Bizminer. The Census bureau compiles information as well, but it can sometimes be hard to glean what you are looking for from some of the data provided.
- Customer or Prospect Lists – who do you expect to sell to? Get to know your target customer.
- Vendors – what tools and supplies will you need to start your business? How much do they cost? Are they overhead or COGS/COSS?
- Business Plan template or software. The most popular is LivePlan as far as apps, and I think it runs around $17 a month. I like that it rolls for continual planning and growth. Saying that, if you are trying to get started and just need to map your thoughts, there are free templates everywhere. I got my original template from SCORE and update it every year, but I’m in the middle of moving to LivePlan, because it also offers some key planning ratios and information without my having to manually calculate them. You can access the SCORE template here: https://www.score.org/resource/business-plan-template-startup-business
- SWOTT Analysis. No, for those of you familiar with the good ole’ SWOT I didn’t spell that wrong. As business has evolved faster than in the past you need to think about trends as well.
- Your team. For the new business, this could be made up of your attorney, accountant, marketing consultant, and more. Include anyone who is going to have a material impact on your business.
Business has evolved quickly, and rushing through your business plan, or not doing one at all, can be a big mistake. This should be a live document that you update periodically (or, like inventory methodology, perpetually with LivePlan).