It feels like business plans are so outdated these days. Business moguls like Elon Musk have even admitted that he's not a big fan of the multi-page document and prefers to be in charge of the vision instead of the operations.
Everyone has a different approach to starting their business, but the truth is, a business plan is completely necessary. It doesn't have to be a crazy formal document that anyone else has to see, especially if you don't need to present it to a bank or investor, but it has to be a living document that declares information of the past, present, and future.
If you're not a huge fan of spending time to sit down and properly write it out, consider just writing shorthand notes and bullet points to get all of your ideas out in a non-pressured way. Either way, it is a must. Once you're ready, make sure each one of these sections is researched and accounted for.
An executive summary is simple. It's the "too long; didn't read" version of your business plan. Talk about what the company is, who it serves, the problems it solves, and what makes it unique. Simple pimple.
Okay, this is probably going to be the piece that takes a hot second. A mission statement should explain a company's purpose in one powerful sentence. Some companies' statements range anywhere from two words to one long run-on sentence, but either way, they perfectly capture why the company exists.
Note whether you're going to be a sole proprietor, LLC, Partnership, or Corporation. If you've made it this far and realized you need to create a business entity, then do so here.
Establish how much money you personally have in the bank account and also tally up any other accounts you have - retirement, stocks, or personal property. This is to help you budget.
From here, establish how much, if any, funds you'll need to start the business and where you plan to get that money from. Family and friends? Loans? Grants? Get it all out here.
Products and Services
What does your company do? Write it out here, in complete and unapologetic detail. Talk about the product, how it's made, how it's sourced, how you will sell it, how it's better than the rest, and any other detail that anyone might need to know. Most importantly, don't be afraid to dream big here. Discuss what the most viable product (MVP) release will look like and share details of what you hope the ultimate dream vision will be. Let those goals live in this section.
Who are your competitors? This is best done in a simple comparison table with characteristics that you and your competitors have or don't have. At the end of the day, this table should show you as providing the most value. If you don't, then revisit your product and/or its marketing.
Who are your clients? Dig deep into demographics and also imagine them as an actual person. Give them a name, a lifestyle, habits, and examples of how they match your brand.
Having a product is great, but how will you advertise? How will people find out about you? Jot down both easy digital advertising mediums but also try and think outside of the box. Can you create experiences or events within your community that will create buzz? Do you have ambassadors that can help you spread the word?
This is the "boring" stuff, but it's totally necessary. Here, write down your operating hours, how many people you plan to hire, what those roles are, your account management software, how you'll collect payments, who your suppliers will be, what the hiring process looks like, exit strategies, and any other operational items that will your business run day-to-day.
What your business looks like today is not what it will look like tomorrow. As mentioned before, this is a document of the past (what helped get you here), the present (what you currently have), and the future (what you hope to have). You want to cover all your bases in terms of things that are doable and things that will be doable once you develop a bigger team and more resources.
Create a timeline of how you hope the business to play out as it will help you establish actionable goals. Knowing if something is a one-month or a five-year thing will help ease your mind when you feel like you're behind.