Why Startup Business Plans Matter.
So I bet you’re wondering why exactly you need a startup business plan? I know, it seems like a boatload of work and technically it’s not reeealllly necessary, but I can assure you that a business plan will set you apart from your competition and benefit you in ways you can’t fully realize quite yet. What a business plan will do it really set you up for long-term success by outlining the major components you’ll need to maintain a healthy and prospering startup! Here is our break down of what your business plan should include.
Define WHAT your business does.
This may seem obvious, but what does your business do? You’d be surprised how many business owners can’t clearly define the “what,” or their “elevator pitch” so to speak.
What is your product/service and what problem does it solve for your customer/client?
When you can CLEARLY define what you do, you can quickly eliminate what you don’t do! Finding a specific niche market is key to getting your startup off the ground!
Outline a CLEAR mission statement.
A mission statement is anywhere from a few words to a couple of sentences, all the way to a paragraph that describes your purpose as a startup. What types of services you offer, goals, and how you plan to connect with your market? This is how you plan to sell your business to your clients, so it should be well thought out and unique!
For example, Patagonia’s Mission Statement is as follows: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
You can Google “mission statements” to get a better idea of examples! It’s really not as difficult as you think! Just take a jab at it.
Really analyze your target market.
What is your target market and where do they reside? Are they in your small town, or do you need to expand your marketing to surrounding areas? Who is your ideal customer and how would you describe them?
Seriously, write down WHO they are! Give them a name!
What is the competition like in your market and how are they marketing their product? I know we don’t want to get on the comparison train, but Google three local startups in your sector and see what they’re charging. You can use this information to draft what you’ll offer. Don’t feel like you have to be EXACTLY like them either!!! In fact, you need to clearly define how you are going to be different!
Build a team vision!
If you’re an introvert, you probably like the idea of working alone! But, unfortunately running a successful business is going to be a group effort. As you grow, you may need to employ the help of others, such as copywriters, digital media specialists, photographers/videographers…who knows how quickly you’ll expand!
Who is going to run the business with you? What roles will be involved in day to day operation? Can you outsource some of the daily duties, like design or bookkeeping? Sit down and outline what core values you want your team members to embody! The more detailed the better. You’ll be better able to make hiring decisions when people offer their help!
Make an honest list of your strengths and weaknesses!
I know we don’t particularly like to admit to our weaknesses, but it’s all part of the job so get used to it. You should ask yourself, and note in the future, the aspects of your business that you don’t love or could improve. This is vital to growth! The good part is, we also get to outline our strengths! What are you REALLY good at? How can you leverage that to grow your business? Don’t be shy! What is the first thing you need to outsource? Be HONEST!
Define how you'll set yourself apart from your competition!
How are you going to be different to gain clients in your market? Let’s be real, there are a million startups out there, but there is only ONE of you. How do you bring your personality to your business? What are you going to offer that no one in your area offers? High-end products? Special offers? Referral rewards?
When two businesses are the same, price will typically win out. So you need to make yourself the ONLY option.
How can you break the mold and get people to notice you?
Flat out, what’s your budget? The truth is, so many startups fail due to basic math, or the avoidance of their financial reality. There is no shame is growing slowly, so have realistic expectations! You NEED to know your cost of doing business (along with any incidental fees that may arise).
I don’t think I need to tell you this, but this step here will make the biggest difference, so don’t skip it.
Outline your short-term and long-term goals.
What do you want to achieve with the business in the near future and in the next one, two, and five years? Write your goals down so you can track to them! Set goals that are challenging for you, but can still be achieved within a realistic time frame. What do you want to do in the next few weeks or months, and maybe set a yearly goal! Writing them all down is your best bet, as you can track and make changes to these goals.
After it’s all said and done, writing a business plan takes some serious work and introspection. Taking the time to really think about all of these issues will serve you well in any startup business. When you know what your goals are (from financial all the way to the client experience) you won’t get hung up on the small details. Challenging yourself may be uncomfortable, but without a doubt, will allow you to reach an entirely new level within yourself and your business!