Sunday, 26 June 2016

How To Write A Successful Business Plan

I've been saying I will write this post for a while as I know it is something that will interest you all. After showing you about my third year not only did you want to see more of my dissertation but also my business plan. Being able to have the basics to set up your own business is something I'm glad I am now capable of doing and it would give me pleasure knowing I could also give some of you a helping hand.
1 | Market Research
The most important thing to do first and throughout creating your business plan is to look at the market. Don't be narrow minded and just look at the things you think will effect you, anything and everything can make an impact. A good place to start is PESTEL factors which stands for political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal. I am constantly watching the news but sometimes I admit I can be terrible for keeping up with what is going on in the world, since downloading the BBC News App it has made it a lot easier to follow with instant alerts when a story breaks and I would highly recommend getting this to keep you in the loop. From this you will gain a series of key drivers leading towards a movement of a trend in society which will hopefully lead to a range of innovate and original ideas.

2 | Concept
After looking at the market you may recognise a gap or opportunity to make something new or improve an existing business. From this you will have an idea or a 'seed' which you can grow in to mission statements, pitches and will help you get a better grasp of explaining what it is you want to achieve. The concept is super important if you don't have a good thing to start with the rest isn't going to go very well - sorry to be a debbie downer but it's true.

3 | Unique Selling Point
In this day and age it at times it feels almost impossible to come up with something that hasn't already been done. What you need to discover if it is already out there what makes you special? Why will the consumer choose you over the other product or service. Having something unique to your business gives you an difference to promote and sell yourself as. This is what will grab the attention of new consumers or take loyal consumers away from your competitor.

4 | Consumer
I've spoken a bit about your consumer already but have you taken a real thought to who they are. When I was doing my business plan they were named 'consumer tribes'. It is likely you will have 2/3 groups of people that generalise your consumers. Think characteristics, personality traits, lifestyles and more. You need to understand them fully to know exactly what they want, what they would be willing to pay and how to communicate with them.

5 | Competitors
Get to know your competitors - you know what they say keep your friends close and enemies closer. Find out what do they do well, what doesn't work, what could you improve on. Complete a full competitor comparison of at least one company and list the similarities and differences this will give you a good indication of where you could be placed on the brand adjacency map. Positioning the brands that are a threat to you will enable you to see clearly where you can place yourself comfortably in the mix.
6 | Barriers To Entry/Contingency Plan
Unfortunately it's not all plain sailing and you will come up against some hardship during the entering the market and throughout your journey as a business. Planning for these is the only way to hopefully help the process and save your company. By predicting things you could come up against and having a plan of action in place for this will enable you to resolve the issue in a quicker and in a well thought out manner.

7 | Operations And Distributions
Knowing what your business does is important but you need to consider how it all works. Break it down to day to day tasks, think about the members of staff you will require and if you need to get this from somewhere or make something who will supply that. I was constantly going back and adding things to this list and you don't realise how much is needed to make even the smallest of businesses run smoothly.

8 | Finance
Funding/start up costs will have to be the top of your to do list. Most businesses need at least some form of investment and you need to see if it's something you will cover, maybe have a partner investor or get a loan to get things going. Then you will need to think about how you intend to make a profit by considering your possible revenue streams. Once you have these you can begin to forecast your break even point, sales forecast, cash flow, profit and loss and create a balance sheet. I did a five year plan for mine but I think 2-3 is more than enough to wrap your head around.

9 | Future Growth
No business is the same as when it start as with new technologies and changes in the world we have the ability to grow in to something bigger and better. Once you start making a profit you can begin to invest it back in to the business. My methods were merchandise, an app form, events and advertising jobs as they were all relevant to my target market and concept.

10 | Branding
Branding is something that has to say who you are, what you do and show personality through just appearance. You need to make sure it's recognisable and captures peoples attention, I would advice getting feedback as often as possible. I think branding has to be one of the best parts for me - designing logo's, putting together colour schemes, choosing a typography, selecting photography styles, highlighting your tone of voice and more. You can see your brand coming to life!
11 | Marketing
Once you have a nearly finished your business the marketing process begins to get the word out about your new amazing product or service. From campaigns to social media you need to promote what you've got. This is crucial to ensure a steady sale of what you have on offer. There are a number of methods you can use both high and low in cost but it's about finding which will reach your target audience the most.

12 | Retention Strategy
Once you have consumers, how do you plan to keep them? In this moment in time people are constantly looking around for the best deals and where they can find it cheaper or better quality or with a brand they trust. By offering promotions and offers you are more likely to ensure that customers stay with you and feel satisfied because they are rewarded for their loyalty.

13 | Show The Product
From personal experience I've found it's best to give them a taste of what they are in for. For example when I was doing my business plan on 'Powher' an online platform I collaborated with a web developed to create the site. I then interview three individuals to be featured to show exactly what it would look and be like if it was live. This is perfect to show to investors because they can then see exactly what they are in for.

14 | Tell With Passion
You have to love what you do. If you don't believe in yourself or your business no one else will - simple.

15 | Keep Trying
Never give up! Your business may be rejected or need tweaking every now and again but you can do it. One way or another it is an accomplishment putting together this document let alone it being approved and put into practice. Don't be too disheartened if it doesn't work out straight away, determination will take you places, I promise.

Hope this helps any of you writing a business plan out there and I wish you the best of luck from the bottom of my heart on your adventure.


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