If you’re thinking about starting up a new business, read this entire post.
In business, it’s imperative to have clearly defined objectives, ideas and goals. The first thing to do with your new startup idea is create a step-by-step business plan to align your focus.
How To Create A Winning Startup Plan
A solid startup business plan is key to the future success of any venture.
Creating a winning strategy is no easy feat. It’s something that takes time and effort, not to mention plenty of research.
You want to be as prepared as possible before taking the plunge.
This preparedness helps you understand the strengths and weaknesses of the business and to identify exactly what steps you need to take to grow.
While no two businesses are the same, there are some things that shouldn’t be missing from any startup business plan.
Read on to discover the 11 startup business plan essentials for success:
1. List Of Top Competitors
When you’re starting up, it’s absolutely essential to identify and research your competitors. You should always closely monitor their activity, without losing focus on your own, of course.
By researching competition and recognizing how they do things, you can create your own business model based on their strengths and figure out what not to do by identifying their weaknesses.
Use tools like SimilarWeb and Alexa, which reveal traffic, audiences and keywords your competitors rank for.
Your direct competitors are businesses that offer the same service or product as you, or have the same concept.
Identify your own USP (unique selling point aka hook) that sets you apart from them. Something you can offer or do differently so you’re not saturating a market with more of what’s already out there.
Make notes of their operations, reputation, products and financial success if you can. Use that information to build your own model and establish your own goals. Keep it realistic.
For instance, if your competitor is Facebook, it’s unreasonable to assume your company will be worth billions out of the gate.
Here are six ways to identify & spy on your competitors:
2. Reasonable Financial Projections
In business, cash is king.
While money isn’t the be all end all, without a good financial plan and successful cash flow, a business could fail before it even begins – unless you have money to initially invest, even then, nothing is guaranteed.
So get the spreadsheets ready and prepare to do some math.
You need to work out financial projections for workforce, marketing, distribution and initial costs, like equipment and property. Figure out how much money you’ll need, and where exactly to invest the money.
We do this to avoid investing in the wrong places or overspending.
This Financial Projections Template provided by Score.org has helped me tremendously over the years.
3. Potential Risks Identified
A successful business acknowledges things may not always go to plan, and is fully aware of all risks.
Create a strategy for potential risks, and you’ll be able to navigate even the roughest waters.
These are the five primary startup risks to account for:
Identifying risks in advance gives you an advantage in the face of adversity.
4. Analysis Of Your Customers & Target Market
Without customers, no business can flourish.
Understanding your target market is integral to your startup business plan. You must be absolutely clear on your audience demographic, and what you need to do in order to meet their needs and appeal to them.
Here are nine primary demographics to identify:
- Mobile Device
Having a strong understanding of potential customers will make everything simpler in the long run. Prove to investors and future team members alike, that you know what you’re doing.
Customers love when a business demonstrates an understanding of their needs.
5. Pricing Of Your Product Or Service
Having a clear idea of how you should price your products is crucial.
Never go into business without a pricing strategy to compete within your chosen market. Utilizing an incentive like “FREE + Shipping” or donating proceeds to a cause to get people interested in your product or service, will help earn customers in the beginning.
Here are three other pricing strategies to focus on:
- Market Share
- Revenue Growth
- Profit Maximization
Your startup’s pricing strategy should align sales, marketing, and development efforts.
6. Breakdown Of Your Marketing Strategy
You should carry out extensive research and look at market data to come up with a marketing plan for your business.
The initial marketing strategy is vital to the long term success of the product or service you’re selling, and could really make or break the business. The information you’ve gathered about your customers and target market will come into great use here, and you’ll need to be creative with how you utilize the information.
Think about where you will advertise your product (press, newspapers, internet, social media, TV, radio, billboards, influencers), research the costs involved and how much money you’re willing to invest into your initial marketing.
Here are the basic factors to consider for your marketing strategy:
- Conversion Rate Optimization (split testing ads and landing pages)
- Growth Hacking – (specific tactics & mediums)
- Facebook Ads Help Define Your Audience
- Create Customer Feedback Loops (emails, surveys, social media posts)
- Fine-tuning Your Messaging (heat-maps, surveys, analytics)
- Niche Differentiation (utilize different ways to stand out in a niche)
7. Attainable Business Milestones Defined
Setting goals and directly stating, for example, that in one year, you want to reach X, or achieve Y, is a great way to motivate yourself as well as your workforce. Even if you don’t reach the exact goals, you can at least measure your success based on the initial aspirations you’ve set out.
Be careful, though. You should always be reasonable and, ultimately, realistic. While thinking big is never a bad thing, what you want to avoid is cultivating outlandish ideas in your head and the minds of the employees. Building false dreams and hope sets you up for epic failure.
Being unrealistic can have terrible effects later on and could really hurt the moral of everyone involved in your business. It could also overwhelm you and your team. The best thing is to aim for sustained growth, little by little.
Here are several product, business & marketing milestones to consider:
- Private Beta
- Public Beta
- Launch Website
- Create A Working Prototype
- De-Bug Prototype
- Establish Legal Entity (c-corp, s-corp, llc, etc.)
- Setup Business Bank Account (Silicon Valley Bank)
- Register For Accounting Software (Quickbooks)
- Create Startup Pitch Deck
- Determine Revenue Needed To Work Full-Time
- Hire Key People (designer, developer, marketing specialist, etc.)
- Launch Minimum Viable Product
- Official Launch
- Grow & Maintain Email List Of Customers
- Earn Mentions From High Profile Brands
- Develop Brand Partnerships
- Reveal Monthly & Annual Growth Trends
8. Explanation Of How You’ll Profit
This is the word on everyone’s lips in the business world, and is of course the ultimate goal for any startup.
You initially may be happy to break even, making enough to cover all your costs. This is fine to begin with, and is actually a sign things are going well. But, ultimately, you should aim to make profit.
Create and follow a very clear financial model. Outline precisely how you plan to make a profit and how your business can and will remain profitable in the long run.
9. Outline Of Your Business Team
Outline your initial business team.
Something critical to any startup business plan is determining what kind of workforce you’ll have. Will it be just you, will you have employees, and how many? Indicate how many people you plan to employ, any recruitment plans and the exact purpose each employee will have within your business.
This will help you later on when recruiting and allocating tasks to your future or existing workforce.
10. Introduction For Your Product Or Service
It’s absolutely crucial to properly introduce the product or service your business will offer.
You should explain it in great detail – All functions, advantages and benefits of the product or service.
Don’t leave anything out, there’s no such thing as too much detail when it comes to introducing a product into the market. People want to know absolutely everything about it, and you shouldn’t leave them guessing.
11. Explanation Of Product Production
Describe how you’re going to make the product you are going to sell, the manufacturing process, how it will be made, where it will be made, how you will carry out quality control and so on.
This is something you should have a very clear understanding of before starting up. You’ll want to figure out how you’ll transport goods safely, and how you’ll distribute them.
That’s it for this one!
If you have any questions, reach out in the comments section below.
Success by choice, not by chance.