The rise of the start up has caused a change in opinion with regards to business plans. Where before no venture would even be considered without detailed analysis and a 5 year plan, now they are looked on almost with scorn. The modern entrepreneur does not plan, they act, they carpe diem.
Yet there is a purpose and a place for business plans. Scoping out the landscape of your industry bears real and tangible results. It can allow you to avoid common pitfalls, to predict market changes, and highlight weaknesses within the company. Despite the dreariness of business planning, avoiding it has it’s perils.
Define Your Business
It’s important to know exactly what you want to achieve and what goods or services you want to provide before starting out. Many companies fail as they overstretch their resources or fail to define a central purpose to the business. A comprehensive business plan will allow you to fully flesh out your understanding of what role you want the company to fulfill. A good business plan will include:
- What your business will do
- The products and/or services it will provide
- How these products/services are accessed by customers (in shop, by phone, or online)
- Pricing strategies for these products/services
- Short and long-term business objectives – including a timeline of goals that progress can be checked against
Know Your Customers
Understanding the people buying from you is key to the success of any business. Define the demographics most likely to buy your goods/services as early as possible to maximise your return on marketing and sales expenditures. Questions to consider when looking at target markets are:
- How old are they?
- What occupations do they have?
- What are their general lifestyles like?
- Are they repeat customers or one off purchases?
- What will make them buy from you instead of competitors?
- How will they find out about your business?
Naming and Branding Your Company
A name should reflect the intended purpose of the company. Iconic names have retroactively taken on the meaning of the company themselves. A prime example is “Google”. A play on the word “Googol” – a 1 followed by 100 zeroes – the idea was to encapsulate the difficultly of cataloging an almost infinite amount of data on the internet. Today, to google means to search through data. This recursive marketing gives Google huge brand awareness around the world.
Branding is equally important. Think about logo design and how it will be perceived. Colours, themes, and tone all matter when it comes to creating a brand. Again, simple tends to work better, as it avoids confusion on the customers end.
Things to consider when naming or branding a company are:
- How will the name be received?
- Has it already been taken anywhere where you want to operate the business, be it an industry or a country?
- Is it available as a web address?
- Does the meaning change from language to language?
- Is the branding simple and easy to understand?
- Does it bear resemblance to another company’s branding?
- Does it transfer well between online and offline representations?
Staffing the Business
A successful business will require additional staff after it’s startup. If you end up taking on staff – even part time staff – you will need to familiarise yourself with your local employment law and know how to get the best out of your staff. There are plenty of guides and courses available which will help you understand the law and make decisions that suit your business, such as the number of employees you need, what remuneration you should offer then, and their employment status.
Key things to consider about staff are:
- What are my responsibilities and what do I need to provide them with?
- How will I ensure they are properly managed and trained?
- What should I pay them and how does it compare to the pay offered for similar roles?
- How will the staff benefit my business and help me achieve my goals?