Starting up a new business is a very exciting and often quite nerve-racking experience. Whether you have a completely new idea you can’t wait to bring to life, or have a strong skill set and are looking to branch out on your own, there is no point going down this path unless you are prepared. So what is a business plan and where can it come in?
What is a business plan and how can it help your business?
What Is A Business Plan?
Put simply, a business plan is a guide for your business. It outlines exactly what your goals are, why you are setting up this business, what you hope to provide, and how you plan to achieve your goals.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your business plan needs to be a long, drawn-out, formal document. It doesn’t! Unless you are scaling big and fast or hoping to take out a business loan, your business plan really just needs to be an internal document that everyone in your team can access and get an overview of what your goal is for the business.
It provides direction, accountability and keeps everyone on the same page.
Who Needs a Business Plan?
If you are simply stepping out to take on a little bit of freelance work, you can comfortably forgo the plan and just get on with it.
However, if you have a significant endeavour in mind that is going to take up your time, money and other resources, you need a plan in place. Firstly, if you are pouring so much into a start-up business, you are doing it at a risk to yourself. A plan helps protect you and ensures you have clear goals in mind right from the start.
Many people think business plans are only for those who are applying for a business loan, but this just isn’t the case. Even if you have the money to fund your own business start-up, you are still risking it in the process and it needs to be well thought out and planned.
Even businesses that have been running for some time can stop and put a plan in place. They can be revised and updated down the track and should grow with your business.
How a Business Plan can Help Your Start-up
A business plan is the first step to seeing whether your business idea is actually viable. You can look at:
- How much money is going into the business
- What it is going to be spent on
- How you plan on making money
- How much money you expect to see coming into the business in a certain amount of time
This will give you a clear idea of where you see your business going and a way to measure your success down the track.
Your business plan should be focused on what your business is going to do, how it will reach its goals, and why you are the best person/people to be doing it.
If you are looking to take out a business loan, then you will need a plan, whether you like it or not. Lenders aren’t going to invest in you unless they can see all this information upfront.
In this case, your best option is to get some professional help. You want to put your best foot forward when it comes to applying for a loan, which means an in-depth plan.
How a Business Plan can Help Your Current Business
Just because your business is up and running doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still have a plan in place. It can help steer your business in a better direction and just provide overall clarity over your goals and what you are hoping to achieve.
In an existing business, a plan can be used to reinforce your strategy, track your resources and better manage your cash flow.
Making a Business Plan
Of course, business plans come in many forms, and it is about finding one that suits your needs.
Firstly, you need to determine who your plan is for. Whether you are developing a plan for internal use or hoping to get funding, knowing your audience will ensure that the content is written for their needs.
You need to do your research and think about what exactly you should be including in yours. If you are stuck, you can always ask for professional help with it.
Your plan should be reviewed over time. This will help you stay accountable for everything you outlined and can be used to measure your success.