Want to start your own business? Have a great idea you want to bring out into the world? Awesome! Get started, get cracking, go do it, take the leap!
I used to think I had to wait until I was “qualified” to start up on my own. What does qualified mean, you say? Well I don’t know, don’t look at me. I have no idea what my idea of qualified was, because I don’t think anyone ever reaches a place where they’re like ‘yup, that’s it, I just learned the last piece of the puzzle, I’m all set and ready to go now.” I guess there were certain things I figured I had to do before I got going, like take an economics class, a business class, work a few more years in publishing, get my masters in literature, create a network of industry contacts. But all that could take a decade to complete, and I’ll never stop and think that I’ve finally completed the full set of requirements which qualify me for starting up my own business.
At some point you just have to take a deep breath and jump right in, learning as you go.
One great way to get started is to just write out your business plan. It’s cost free, risk free and it’s a strong, solid building block in your business. All you need to invest is your time and hard work, and in return you get to educate and orientate yourself around the ins and outs of the industry you are looking to join. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and you can always fine-tune it later, but at least now you have a starting point.
The below is the template I used for my business plan, and my thoughts on how to work the points out.
A front page is very straightforward and easy to make, just put in the name of your business, make it clear that the document is a business plan, and maybe include some contact info. An easy check.
This should be short and sharp. A straightforward and cohesive explanation of what your business plan entails. I would wait to write this out until the rest of your plan is finished, as your idea for it might change during the writing process.
Again, this is a rather simple page to create, just add these headlines with page numbers, also probably best to do when you are finished, in case you write more or less pages than you thought you would.
This should be a short description of the background for establishing your company, what you’re going to do and which needs in the market you are going to meet. Introduce the people behind the company, and include address and contact information.
This one I thought was really fun to write out. Basically you’re meant to write down what the idea for your business is, and where you see it going in one, two three decades. I wasn’t holding back as I was writing this, I just went right in there and wrote down my dream, ambitious as it was, from how I wanted to get started to how I was going to expand. Write down what you want your business to establish itself as, your vision for how it’s all going to look and what your concept’s going to be.
Product/service and production
Here you write down what your idea or service is. I had a product so I described what it would look like, the colour and size it was going to be, what it would be used for, etc., and then I went through all the steps which would go into making it. You have to really think through what goes into production, and be sure to include even the smallest aspects of it, but other than that I wouldn’t overthink it, just write the facts down simply and shortly.
I thought this was a little difficult to get down on paper. I had a very clear idea of who my customers would be in my head, but it’s tricky to get it down in plain and straightforward terms. How do you describe a market when all you have in your head is “well, they’re just girls like me, you know, millennials who are into being the best versions of themselves that they can be! Preferably in pink.” But I looked up some statistics and got a few lines down about the age, gender, occupations and interests of the people I wanted to sell to. It wasn’t incredibly elaborate, just 120 words, but it was a clear description and that was enough for me.
I performed a SWOT-analysis for this, which I’d never done before! It’s really simple once you get your head wrapped around it, I just followed the guidelines of this article, and banged a few lines out. Then I wrote about strategic choices (how to position my company against customers), how to reach my customers, and a marketing plan for marketing events.
At first I was quite daunted by the budget, I’ve never taken economics classes or written budgets for anything other than my personal spendings before, so again I wasn’t sure if I was “qualified”, but in the end I just wrote down everything and anything I could think of which would cost money, made guesses as to how much each item would cost, and then made an estimate of how much I was going to make. I put it all together in an excel sheet and copy pasted it into my business plan. It might be a little rudimentary, but I accepted it for what is was and moved on. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you can ask someone or pay someone to look it all over when it’s finished and polish it for you.
Capital needs and financing
Again, these were words I was intimidated by, but it’s basically just a repeat of your budget costs and a line or two about how you’re planning to get financed for your establishment phase. I wrote down that I was planning on spending my own money to cover some of the expense, and getting a loan for the rest.
Organisation and administration of business
This should be a description of how the company is going to be run. Who will be in which roles, which tasks will be completed at what times, where will you be located, who are the owners. which services will you be using and what work will be outsourced.
Finally, your plan of action. This should be a concrete description of tasks and plans for the establishing phase, including information about what your intentions are, which methods you will be using and who will be responsible for following through on the different points. You should include things like creating email addresses, a website, social media accounts, then what the different stages of production might be, how you’re going to move forward with your marketing plan and which software and routines you’ll be using for accounting and invoicing.