Do you have a business plan? And if you don’t, why might you need one? In this week’s episode, I talk about the importance of business planning.
Welcome to the second series of my podcast, which is still focused on helping people to grow a thriving business while also being more centred around the work I do with female entrepreneurs. This week, I want to talk to you about business planning, which, believe it or not, can be great fun!
If you’re looking to get funding for your business from a bank or from external investors, a business plan is a must. But even if you’re working as a solopreneur (like a coach or a consultant, for example), and you’re planning to use your own time and energy to set up and grow your business, it’s worth going through the process of understanding what might happen, how, and what things might get in your way, so you can create a clear plan of action!
You can listen using the link below or via your favourite podcasting platforms here The Business Greenhouse with Emmie Faust.
So how thorough does your business plan need to be? Broadly speaking, the answer depends on the type of business you have (or that you are setting up) and on whether you need external funding or not. At a very basic level, you should think about:
- Who are your customers or clients?
- What products or services are you going to be selling?
- And what is your pricing strategy?
What I always encourage my clients to do is to look at their business plan as a working document. You don’t want to spend a lot of time on your business plan and then lock it away in a drawer! Consider reviewing it every quarter – elements like your SWOT analysis, competitor research, and marketing plan (as well as financial forecasting and budgeting) need frequent reviews in order to be accurate and useful.
So how do you create a business plan exactly?
Tune in, and you will learn…
How to create your business plan.
- Creating a business plan, especially if you haven’t done it before, can feel like a scary and overwhelming task. But it doesn’t need to be! My advice? Get some help! If you can, hire an expert. If not, why not get together with a business-minded friend and work on your business plan together? Perhaps you could look into hiring a mentor or finding a course?
- Download the Business Plan from the Prince’s Trust and fill it in. It’s a big document (and the task can feel overwhelming), so consider breaking it down into small chunks and completing one section a week. It might take you the best part of two months, but the exercise (and the outcome) will be worth your time!
The key elements to include in your business plan.
- Market research. Look for resources and information online – you can look at keyword trends or existing products and services, for example. But don’t forget to do some field research. In other words, ask your customers! Either in person or through online questionnaires (you can use a free tool called Survey Monkey), get some feedback from your ideal customers or clients to make sure you’re creating the right products or services for your audience and charging the right prices for them.
- Competitor analysis. Review your competitors. Carrying out this exercise isn’t about copying your competitors! It’s about identifying any gaps in the market and thinking about how you’re going to differentiate yourself from the competition. What are your unique selling points? What makes you different? How are you going to stand out?
- SWOT analysis. Look at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats in the marketplace. If you want to know more about how to do this, listen to episodes 18 and 19 of the podcast:  SWOT – What about the weaknesses in your business? and  SWOT – The opportunities in the market.
- Cost and pricing strategy. What are you going to be charging? How much money are you going to be making? What are your profit margins for each of the products and services you sell going to be?
- Financial forecasting. This is something you might need some help with (unless you have previous experience in financial forecasting). As a minimum, look into forecasting for your first year. But if you’re asking for external funding, be prepared to forecast your figures for the next 3 to 5 years.
Is it too late to create a business plan?
- No! Even if you have already started your business, you can still take some time out and commit to creating a plan.
- Just don’t use it as an excuse to procrastinate! Spending time on a business plan doesn’t mean you cannot get started. If the lack of a business plan is holding you back, could you create the MVP or Minimum Viable Product? This might not be your final product, but getting it out there while it’s still work-in-progress allows you to get early feedback. And that can make all the difference when it comes to putting time, money, and energy into something that might not be the right product or service for your audience!
Other resources mentioned in this episode
LinkedIn post – Did you have a business plan when you started your business? You can have read what people are saying below – some great insight from everyone – Thank you!
More about me.
If you’d like to work with me to help you grow your business, check out my Work With Me page. You can book a FREE 30-minute discovery call where we’ll discuss the challenges you’re facing and talk about how I can help you grow your business. And if you have any feedback on my podcast, get in touch! I’d love to hear what you think about my show and how I can improve it and make it more useful for you.