Many people think about starting their own business at one point or another. Throughout their lives, people grow weary of working for others, managing a hectic work schedule, commuting in terrible traffic, and getting paid less than they believe they are worth. Others dream of the flexibility inherent in starting their own business, especially if they can work from home, and are enticed by the prospect of working for themselves and regaining control of their time and their income.
If this describes you, you are not alone, but you may be concerned about the logistics of reaching for your dream. The good news is that starting your own business may not be as difficult as you think. By looking closely and focusing on one detail at a time, you may find it easier than you imagined to materialize the vision. A business plan is the foundation of any company you plan to start, whether it is a traditional stone-and-mortar business or an ecommerce business. While all of the parts of your plan are critical in helping you determine the means, methods, and materials required to launch your company, some sections of your plan may be more important than you realize.
An Executive Summary is important because it provides the skeletal structure of your company. By articulating, in writing, the overarching outline of your business proposal, you can make real the details inherent in your vision in later sections. This is considered “big picture” framework, so it is not necessarily critical that you are explicit with all of the moving parts of your business in this section.
The General Company Description provides an overview of your company and describes the product or service it offers consumers. This section may include a comparative analysis of similar businesses and explains what makes your company different. It may also explore target demographics or look at an analysis of location.
The Operational Plan provides the logistics of day-to-day operations. It will give information about who needs to be hired, what they will be doing, and how the process is integrated. Some businesses choose to develop a flowchart that can graphically represent what will happen, and, as such, is often the most detailed aspect of your Business Plan. It is where you flesh out all of the details you referred to in the generalities indicated in the Executive Summary and Company Description. The goal is to indicate how you will meet your company’s goals and objectives.
Management and Organization refer to the art of getting people to buy into a common company goal or objective. As such, a business philosophy, a specific mission statement, or company vision is usually included that is consistent with what was written in the executive summary. Thinking about your management and organization plan will allow you to consider how you intend to use human resources and raw materials to move toward a common goal.
Products and Services section provides all of the details necessary for prospective investors to understand your product or service. In this part of your plan, it is important to explain and emphasize what makes your company unique, how it fills a void in the market, or what the niche is. It may also show what sets you apart from the businesses you analyzed in the General Company Description and leads seamlessly into the Financial Plan, where you develop your working model for finances and describe what you need from investors.
Often last and sometimes overlooked is the Marketing Plan. Many company owners feel marketing and advertising will take care of itself or that hiring a company will suffice in building your brand, but this section of your business plan may be one of the most important. Marketing plans, even for new launches or startups, are critical for helping you stay focused on your goals and coordinate your efforts. By setting goals and regularly assessing your efforts, you can modify your plan over time as your business grows.
In the marketing section, you describe the specifics of how you will bring your product to your consumers. Marketing means not only the development of a business name, logo, and tagline, but includes information regarding how you will let others know who you are, what your company embraces, and how you intend to grow. This section looks at social media platforms you may want to capitalize on to grow your following, and may even be detailed to include the best ways and best days to get more followers on Instagram.
According to BMighty, there are some specific reasons why you need to pay attention to your marketing plan, even at the outset of business planning:
- It guarantees your marketing objectives are aligned with your goals and strategy.
- It formalizes abstract ideas and concepts.
- It keeps you focused.
- It helps establish tasks and timelines.
- It can help you obtain financing.
What are some other reasons why marketing plans are so important to a business plan? Feel free to comment here.