What are some good tips for first-timers who want to write a good business plan? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
This is a tough one. It really depends on why you want to write a good business plan in the first place. Is it part of a pitch process? Is it to get a loan? Is it to help you launch or direct your business. If it's the latter, I would say not to overthink it. Even the best business plan in the world is not going to be the reason you make your first sale, and I've seen way too many entrepreneurs let the business plan become an obstacle that keeps them from ever starting up in the first place. And frankly, I generally find a business model, which is different from a business plan, to be more helpful in the early days of starting a business.
It's important to know why you want to start a business in the first place so you can set appropriate goals. If you don't understand your motivations, you may end up headed in a wrong direction or building a successful business that leaves you completely unsatisfied. And, taking stock of the assets you already have (both tangible and intangible) will help you identify any gaps you need to fill. For example, if you are wanting to start an eCommerce business and you have money but no time, you may be able to hire someone to help you build a website or ship your products. On the other hand, if you have time but no money, it may make more sense to teach yourself to build your site or ship products yourself.
In my experience, there are really only a few things you need to sketch out to get started:
- Why do you want to start a business and how will measure success?
- What resources do you currently have to start your business?
- What resources do you still need to start the minimum viable version of your business?
- What is your product or service and how is it valuable to your customers?
- Who are your target customers and how do you know?
- How will you reach them?
Unless you need the plan for some other reason, like a loan or pitch competition, I would stop there and focus on testing, refining and selling your product or service. If you need a more formal business plan for another purpose, there are plenty of templates out there, including shorter plans and more detailed business plans.
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