Chapter 5 – Make a Practical Business Plan
If you’re like many Americans, you don’t think you can start your own business, simply because you don’t really know how. This series is for you – maybe sitting somewhere in a job you dislike, or sitting there squashing some dream you’ve had with the weight of a thousand uninformed excuses.
“If only I had someone to write a business plan for me.”
Not every situation is the same, but for those of you that get more charged up by the idea of “doing” and less so by “thinking”, making a business plan can keep you from moving ahead and starting your business.
I believe you can start your business with less than a business plan – maybe even without one.
Commonly held thought on the topic says that if you want to raise capital (capital being more than $10,000), generally you’ll need a business plan of some form. But, when starting a bootstrapped business from your home, for little or no money, you can get started with a business 1-pager.
Let me be clear: fundraising aside, business plans can be a great advantage. If you have one, or want to make one, then go for it. But I’m all about being practical, actionable and attainable and there’s not enough research to convince me that business plans are all that for some entrepreneurs.
On business plans:
- It’s about “making” the business plan. The most important part of making a business plan is the process of making a business plan. It forces you to think clearly, set goals, and in some ways, verbalizes your commitment to the project. The end results are going to change. Most mega-companies started out with business plans that don’t resemble their services today. You can and should come back to the “thinking” behind a business plan at some point.
- The main principles of a good plan can be articulated in one page. For larger business plans, some owners may include sections on sales, marketing and financial projections. If done correctly, this one-pager will guide your business.
The sections of a 1-page business plan can be anything you choose, however there are four sections I suggest you include:
- The “What I’m Gonna Do” Statement:
Write out exactly what you are going to do for the customer. Always keep the customer in mind when making this 1-pager. Think goals, short and long term, and be specific. How will you know you achieved them? By when?
- The “Who I’m Gonna Do This For” Statement:
Who are the target customers? Be specific. Don’t say “everyone.” Only amateurs say that. The smaller your target to start, the better, as it allows you to carve out a niche.
- The “Why People Will Pay for It” Statement:
Why are they going to buy or pay for this and how will things like time, competition and source materials affect this relationship?
- The “How I’m Gonna Do This” Statement:
This is where you say what you will do to make or provide the product or service, get raw materials, do outreach, get customers and all that goes into your process.
That’s it. One page. Maybe 750 words tops. Can all this be more than 1-page you ask? Well, well, well, now look who wants to make a business plan!
Next time we’re coming back to that idea of yours – so if writing these statements is difficult, it may be your idea that needs tweaking.
Catch up with:
Part 1 – Launching You, Inc.
Part 2 – Get Direction
Part 3 – Is Your Idea Any Good?
Part 4 – Should I Have Them Sign an NDA
Jason Veduccio, author of The New American Dreamer: How to Land That Ideal Job in a Nightmare Economy is a hard-working entrepreneur following his dreams, and he wants you to dream, too. Drawing on his experiences working with companies on marketing, technology, hiring, and workplace issues, his regular column will demystify the job search process and identify strategies for moving up the corporate ladder. Founder of In1Concepts, Jason also knows the ins and outs of launching a new business. He welcomes your questions and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.