I’ve had several pitch meetings with other consultants and business coaches in the last couple of weeks and I’m (selfishly) pleasantly surprised to hear them start their response to my pitch with ” you’d be surprised at the number of entrepreneurs and potential start up owners don’t know how to write a business plan!”. I mean, thats GREAT news for me, because I am literally here to be of service to those of you out there who fall into that category. I’ve also heard fellow entrepreneur’s say ” Oh! It’s all in my head, I got it allll up here!” – insert eye roll here- that is NOT the way you want to start off your company. I mean yes, let’s give your brain some credit, you did come up with a great idea. An idea that you believe, deep down will you make you a business owner. This idea will ultimately change your life. It all starts to change when you commit to putting it down on paper and having your plan lay out your vision.
Now! For those of you who may just be joining the party, we are talking about why you NEED A BUSINESS PLAN and we’re about to break down the relevant parts of a plan that you would need to open specifically a retail store. Your plan is a fundamental element to making your vision a reality. It helps you lay out the foundation, a blue print, of what your company will look like especially among competitors in the industry. Whether you are seeking funding with this business plan or just gathering your thoughts, you should ask yourself if you would invest in you?
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Having a business plan gives your company and your brand an identity. At the start of your plan, you will have an executive summary. I generally save this piece to write for last because it really sums up everything you are aiming to do in a nutshell. It is where you can explain why you stand out and why you’re different than your competition. What makes you stand apart? How are you going to make this a business?
The business plan should also include a break down of your product. How much overhead do you have? What are your goods and where are they from? How much is it costing you to make the product?
You’re also given the chance to analyze your management team and make sure you have the most effective and reliable team in place. What are their backgrounds? Why are they qualified for this role? This is a good place to discuss how you will be training your team and what your policies and procedures will be for all team members.
Are you noticing a pattern with where the concept of your plan is going? You are literally answering the when, why, what, where and how of each aspect your company. And keeping up with this is only going to keep you in line with your goals.
Following your Management and staffing breakdown, should be the juiciest part of the plan, the Marketing plan. It is where you have an opportunity to really develop your niche and target audience. Here is where you break down things like: How are you going to generate traffic? What channels of communication are most popular among your audience? How and can you cater to them? What research have you done to back up that you even have a sustainable business idea? What is your plan to obtain and retain customers? Your client capture rate should be a KPI for you.
Speaking of KPI’s…I will have a whole separate post on these but do you know what they are? I’m talking about your Key Performing Indicators. After we’ve completed the marketing portion of your business plan, then it is time to end with financials. Your KPI’s are going to be a big part of this portion and you want to make sure you’re identifying the right information. Financials will also include a cost benefit analysis, cash flow, and a balance sheet, especially if you’re looking for funding from investors.
You’ll want to finalize your business plan with a few miscellaneous items and company recap. Now, I’ve posed quite a FEW important questions that you will want to answer for yourself and write down the answers! Starting to write down and process all of this information will get us well on your way to creating a sustainable business plan!