Questions to Ask Before Writing a Business Plan
Are you thinking of starting a business? If so, you should know that a well-designed plan will help you clarify your vision and map out the path to achieving your goals.
Not only is this document integral to the planning stages of your business, but you’ll also need to show it to potential partners, investors and lenders to secure funding for your startup. What’s more, a business plan should be continuously updated so it can grow alongside your business and give you plans to refer back to during the (inevitable) hurdles you will face.
As with anything in life, the more prepared you are to start a business, the fewer headaches you’ll face along the way. If you want to get ahead before you’ve even drafted your business plan, ask yourself these four questions first:
What Is the Purpose of My Business?
You probably already know what product or service your business will provide, but have you thought about why? Obviously, you want to turn a profit, but you need to have a wider purpose such as filling a gap in the market or solving a common problem. Your investors and customers will want to see that you’re passionate about your organization and what it stands for, so spend some time determining your motives, beliefs, values and company mission statement.
Who Are My Target Customers?
Before you even put pen to paper, you need to know if there’s a market for your business idea. It doesn’t matter whether you’re operating online or from a physical location, there must be a demand for what you are selling. Who is your targeted customer, and what do they want? How are you uniquely placed to provide this product or service, and why should they buy it from you?
Find out how well similar businesses perform in your niche, and what your competitors are doing. Learn of their failures as well as their successes, as this should minimize your mistakes along the way.
What Are the Legal Formalities?
You may be surprised how even your early business decisions require knowledge of the law. For instance, before you choose a name for your business, you need to check that you aren’t breaking any trademark laws by making sure that name is available in your state. You also need to learn about employer/employee laws, choose legal a structure for your business and obtain the necessary permits and licenses.
Getting your legal ducks in a row requires time, effort and knowledge, so you should consider hiring Revision Legal Internet Lawyer for advice if you’re a new business owner.
Does Your Idea Hold Weight?
Starting a business is risky, even with a business plan. You never know if your startup will succeed unless you try, but thankfully there are ways of testing the waters before you launch.
Talk to industry experts and entrepreneurs in your niche to get their take on your business concept. Ask potential clients (your target customers) for feedback, perhaps by giving out freebies or creating a mock-up product. Give someone an elevator pitch and see how he or she responds. All of this feedback is excellent fodder for your business plan, and it will (hopefully) give you more confidence in your idea.
Creating a business plan is the first step on the road to success, but a little planning beforehand will set you in good stead for the future.