Ok, so you’ve decided to start your first business. In this article, I want to share with you 5 key things you must put in your business plan.
This article is part 1 in a two-part series with another five tips next week. Since 90% of business owners never complete a business plan before they launch their business, you’ll be a rare individual just for writing one.
And with these tips, you’ll be able to write a high-quality business plan that is as rare as a unicorn, hen’s teeth or rocking horse ‘you know what’:
1. YOUR CUSTOMER.
You should start your business planning journey with a full description of the individual who constitutes your customer. You should be able to picture that individual in detail, and speaking of which, it pays to actually find a picture of a person like that and put it in your plan with as much information as you can.
Find out about that ‘ideal customer’:
Their age range.
Are they male or female?
Where they live is good too.
How much income do they earn each year?
Their job title is useful when targeting professionals.
You could juice the description up a little by defining how they think about certain topics that are relevant to your product.
And this, unfortunately, is where many businesses stop.
I encourage you to consider your ideal customer in remarkable detail:
Where do they shop?
Do they volunteer?
Do they donate to charity?
How do they feel about environmental and social issues?
What songs do they like?
If you were to fill two or three pages of information about yourself, a subject you no doubt know a lot about, then you would be approaching the kind of understanding and information I am talking about.
And why would you do this? The simple answer is survival; your survival. A business that understands their ideal customer in this sort of detail is a force to be reckoned with. Not in an icky, stalking kind of way. And certainly not in the ‘I know your daughter’s birthday, so I can show off by sending you a note on that day’ trite fashion.
A business that really knows their customer has an almost magical ability to satisfy them and keep them loyal for many years.
2. A PLAN TO COMMUNICATE.
You would swear some businesses are like a building with four walls, a roof and a floor, but no visible means of entry: no doors, no windows, no electrical or internet wires going in and out, no letterbox, no identification, no nothing.
If I told you that 85% of business owners had not communicated with their existing customer base in the last 12 months in any form of a formal marketing campaign, would you believe me? Well, it’s true.
You must have a plan to keep in contact with your customers and allow them to easily contact you and I mean the human you. So many businesses make this so difficult these days that it is a wonder how they stay in business.
They don’t reach out to their customers, and they don’t want personal in-bound contact, and when you do get through, their service leaves a little to be desired.
A business plan needs a rigorous set of financial numbers that you can track as you launch the business and expand. These numbers must be conservative and based on real research and actual data. They cannot be made up by licking a finger and holding it up in the air. Or by simply ‘adding 5% to last year’.
So, plan the numbers well, track them, and be vigilant so you can reach your goals.
Your accountants, lawyers and insurance advisor are three of the key critical advisors you should have in your plan. Including a schedule of how often you will contact them. Each brings a wealth of expertise in their field to help you navigate and protect yourself and your business in good times and bad.
It is incredibly useful to get benchmark data on your industry segment and have this in your plan. Benchmarking things like average production costs, revenue, margin, customer satisfaction or willingness to refer is also worthwhile to do.
Are you ready to create the most awesome business plan ever written? Well, what are you waiting for? Include these 5 things and get a start today!
And look out next week for my companion article with tips 6 through 10.
Originally published on Smallville.