Commit your plans to paper
Many a new business has sprouted because someone dared to dream. But dreams alone do not guarantee business success — just ask anyone who has tried and failed. Launching a new business isn’t easy, but it can be oh so rewarding if you succeed.
To ensure that your business has at least a fighting chance, you will need to prepare a written business plan in which you describe the nature of your business, how you intend to reach specific goals and the profits you expect to gain as a result. If that sounds like busy work, consider an attitude adjustment. Simply writing a plan forces you to think about every aspect of your business and come up with solutions to potential problems — and that’s a good thing.
Still reluctant about the need to prepare a written business plan? Consider this: No potential investor — and that includes financial institutions — will take you or your business seriously without one.
The Basic Components of a Business Plan
Highlight the key strengths of your plan, including where you want to take your company and why your idea will be successful.
Make this your extended “elevator pitch” to help readers, especially potential investors, quickly grasp the uniqueness of your business.
Demonstrate that you understand your industry, target market, customers, competitors and pricing structure.
Organization and Management
Describe your company’s organizational structure; introduce the principals and management team.
Service or Product Line
Emphasize the benefits you can provide to current and potential customers.
Marketing and Sales
Explain how you plan to promote your product or service, create customers and boost sales.
Lay out current and future funding requirements; tell how you will use any funds you may receive and the types of funding you prefer.
Summarize projected income and expenses, past credit history, intended allocation of resources and other financial details.
Provide supporting information and documents, such as: your credit history; letters of reference; resumes of key managers; leases; licenses, permits and/or patents; a list of your business consultants (attorney, accountant, etc.); relevant research, magazine articles or book references.
Launching a Business Online
Even though the pandemic is largely behind us for now and most brick-and-mortar businesses are operating at full or nearly-full capacity again, online businesses continue to pop up everywhere. One reason: Their startup costs tend to be lower, and once launched, very little overhead is required.
If you decide to go this route, keep in mind that just like any other business, you will need to choose a business structure, name and location (most likely your home); pay taxes; secure necessary permits and licenses; obey the law; and craft a written business plan. And don’t forget, since a website is where your business “lives,” you will have two additional chores: purchasing domain registration and web hosting (typically available from the same company) and creating/maintaining the actual website. You can do it all yourself or, if you’re only mildly web savvy, you can hire a professional who knows about proper configuration, logo creation, search engine optimization, etc., leaving you with time to pursue funding and promotion opportunities.