If you have never set up a business plan, you’re in for a treat. Business plans are great fun to write up. It gives you a goal to work towards, a strategy to work with, and that extra dose of motivation to get you going!
If you have written a business plan before, you’re most probably thinking, “Are you insane? Those things are horrible.” But trust me, they were only horrible because you used the wrong formula. So good news for you: here is the correct equation!
But before we dive into the fun stuff, let’s just take a moment to consider why we are doing this.
Why set up a business plan?
By writing things down, you have a point of reference. You can refer back to what you thought of a few months ago, and see if your goals are still aligned. According to a blog post by the CBM Group, one needs to strategise to be able to know what to do, and where the business is headed, before jumping blindly into the unknown. As the saying goes: without a plan, you plan to fail.
It’s easy to “just go for it”. Risk it all and jump. It’s easy because you didn’t think it through. You didn’t think of the risks that are connected to each decision. You didn’t consider the long-term effects on the business. And you definitely did not think of how the business will grow over time.
A business plan is needed to help you think. To help you zoom in on potential weak spots or business flaws. I have cut down to the bare minimum of what you need in a business plan that is for your eyes only. So, here goes.
Many online business plan templates start with the executive summary. And that’s good if you want a more in-depth plan that you can show investors.
For the company overview, all you need to answer is: “What does the company do? What problem are you solving? What gap are you filling? What do you offer the public?”
FLUFF TAIL is a business that sells handmade soft toys. At FLUFF TAIL, we believe that all children’s toys should be able to last for generations. We carefully design each toy, and make every toy by hand to preserve its uniqueness.
Who’s going to wander into your online store and put things in their virtual baskets? This question can get tricky sometimes. Like in my example above, yes, it’s children’s toys, but the children are not going to be the ones who open their wallets. So, not only must the products be attractive to the children, but it must be very attractive to the parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents as well. There must not only be a pull-factor for the children (to play with the toy), but there must be a stronger pull-factor for the parents, like the fact that it could last for generations, or that the toys have some resemblance to toys they played with when they were children.
Tip: Emotion is the best pull-factor. Yes, I know it sounds like manipulation, but hear me out. When I was in grade six, marbles became a huge thing. We had marble-wars every single break time. It was fantastic. Now, if I had children, and marbles came back onto the scene, I would totally buy my children marbles, because I remember what fun times I had on the playground with those little glass balls. Emotion is powerful, and the “good ol’ days” will always remain in people’s minds.
Which companies are in your league? Which company’s league would you like to be in? It’s important to look at the competition and see how they do things. What do they do that people love? What makes them successful?
Now, the point of this section isn’t to go copy-cat. This is just so that you can determine where your shortcomings are. Where you can improve your product. Because if it worked for the other company, it will work for you.
All businesses need a marketing plan. You cannot simply just open an online store, and expect it to instantly be flooded with customers. You need to tell people. You need to strategise. How will people find out about you? Hint: use social media. Social media has become the backbone of all marketing (in my humble opinion). Use it.
You can add many more things to your business plan, like how much you will charge per item or per hour, how you will get paid, how you will become profitable, a financial strategy, and many more. But to get your thoughts focused and set a basic business plan in place, this is all you need.
As you have probably noticed, when writing out a business plan, you will need to do a bit of research. But don’t think of it as boring or time consuming – think of it as a learning experience. It will save you tons of time down the road, and you will be a lot more confident moving forward.
Enjoy planning your next adventure!
 All names and descriptions are entirely a work of the writer’s imagination. If there are any similarities between the examples and real-life scenarios, it is pure coincidence.