Monday, August 15, 2011

Basics of Startup Business Plan

Having a good product, great marketing, and excellent financial management are key components of a successful business. Do we have these keys? A good way to find out is to conduct an investigation into your business‘s strengths and weaknesses. Carry out an examination of the environment, in which your business operates, looking for opportunities and threats. Business savvy people call this the SWOT analysis. – Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – Threats. This is essential groundwork for the preparation of a good business plan. You can carry out a SWOT analysis of your business as it stands today. Discover needs and decide upon ways to address those needs. In three months time, you can repeat your SWOT analysis to see how you are progressing in general.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths – We have feature Y; nobody else has it.
Weaknesses – We don‘t supply 24/7 support and that is increasingly being requested. Our prices are higher that our competitors
Opportunities – In the economic downturn, we are leaner than some of our competitors, we could grow at a faster rate than most.
Threats – We are Brisbane-based; many of our clients are in semi-rural to rural areas.

When looking at existing problems/benefits, ask yourself if it is a problem that needs fixing or do we have a benefit that needs nurturing. Bear in mind that no business is perfect. As long as the business is functioning reasonably well with problems - fixing the worst bits is a good choice.

If you need to deal with a problem, then ask

What caused it?
How is it limiting the business?
If it is allowed to remain, what are the long-term consequences?
Is this a recurring problem?


Identify at least three achievable solutions...
Decide which of these solutions you prefer...
Assess what that will do for you...
Investigate how you can make that happen...
Ask how you can use the obstacle to increase your success...

Putting this into practice will give you a good problem-solving model upon which you can rely upon time and time again.

Changes occur in the business environment in which you operate. These can pose threats, or, be seen to be opportunities. New laws may be introduced requiring a change in the way the business operates. There will be costs attached to adapting to the new legislation. Natural horsemanship skills are being taught in university courses for veterinarians, agricultural studies, and equine studies. This is an opportunity to assist students with clinics. Contacting the school will help you to contact the relevant lecturers who might be happy to use clinics to enrich the subject offerings.

Having done a SWOT analysis you are now ready to begin work on your start up business plan. In the course of creating a plan, you need to be as realistic as possible. Use a logical flow of relevant items that which will agree with the various aspects of the business plan. For example, you might want to increase the amount of First Level Natural Horsemanship instructors to run clinics and cut the number of clinics to contain costs. You will be faced with an inconsistency. A reader of your plan may see the seeds of new competition emerging as the idle First Level Natural Horsemanship instructors decide to start new businesses apart from and in competition with you. You would be best to increase your revenue by utilising these instructors without cutting clinics.

Consider and describe who is purchasing your services/products? Isn‘t it amazing? People who see your product/service frequently purchase out of greed, fear and laziness. Does your sales process cover all of these motives?

Decide where you want to be in the future. Business plans will show how well the business owners know their business. The plan, itself, will reveal the degree of owners understanding to savvy readers. For this reason, it is a good idea for the business owners to be vitally involved in the writing of a business plan. The selection of a business consultant to write a more formal plan, in the future, should carry with it great wisdom if business owners make a substantial contribution to the formal plan. Smart investors steer clear of investing in businesses whose owners who show they don‘t understand the business; the reasoning being:

‘if you don‘t understand it – you can‘t manage it‘.

Outline of Basic Startup Business Plan

Executive Summary
Company Description
Nature of the business
The Industry
Marketplace Needs
Method(s) to Satisfy Those Needs
Unique Competencies
Market Analysis
Industry Description and Outlook
Target Market
Market Consultation
Competition (SWOT)
Marketing and Promotion
Overall Marketing Strategy
Ongoing Market Evaluation
Customer Profile
Today's Customer
Tomorrow's Customer
Sales Strategies
Sales Force
Sales Activities
Management and Ownership
Company Structure and Policy
Key Management and Operating Personnel
Legal Structure
Expert Advisors
Economics of the Business
Revenue Models
Balance Sheet
3 Year Cashflow Forecast
Worst Case Contingency Plan

You now have a very brief description of a business plan. They are normally much more involved than I have mentioned here and are the subject of a new book on Business Planning.
Modifications can be introduced to meet the needs of your audience. The business start up will initially rely upon the plan to direct its growth and success. Later you may need to apply for a loan – so the plan can be modified to meet the needs of a banker audience. If you decide you would like to bring in an investor, then the plan will be changed to present to the needs of investors.

You will also realise that much work occurs and time passes in the creation of a business plan. Depending on the business and its audience a good business plan may take several months to compile. It is good to regularly refer to your business plan, make adjustments, note your progress, and record changes etc. By doing this you will really understand your business, and have collected enough information to make a substantial contribution to a consultant when you need a formal business plan.

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