Starting your own business is an amazing journey and one of the most empowering, positive decisions you can make. It is the culmination of everything you have learned, created, and overcome throughout your career.
It is also can be terrifying.
What if you don’t have the right information to get investors interested? What if you forget to prepare for an important step in the process? How do you even know where to begin? It doesn’t take long to discover that even your questions have questions.
That’s the moment when many entrepreneurs realize that getting the help of a professional business plan writer can take their business concept from daydream to day job. Bringing in an experienced professional is a wise choice that can steer a company toward success from day one.
But before we get to the reward—financial independence and the hard-won title of a small business owner—there are some things you can do to make the process run smoothly.
Taking the time to consider the following questions. Having the answers ready (even if you jot them down on a napkin or just lock them in your mental vault until they’re needed) will not only smooth the business planning process, it will help put you in the driver’s seat so you’re confident about the finished product.
1. Who are you?
Before you sit down for your first conversation with a professional business plan writer, think through the basics—what is your business, who will get the work done, and who will you sell to?
As a company, that is. Take the time to clarify your mission and get to know the people you plan to run the business alongside if you’re planning to have help. Find the passion you have for your concept and use it to form a mental picture of the kind of company you want to create.
This information will form the basis, not only for your mission statement, but for your company culture and ultimately, the direction in which your company grows. Like a tree, the pattern for your company’s future size, reach, and strength is determined by the kind of seed you decide to plant now.
Considering your company’s business formation is also imperative. What is the name of your business? Will your business be formed as an LLC, S-Corp, C-Corp, etc.? Who will have ownership in your business to start?
Will you have a physical location? If so, where do you plan on opening your business (street, city, state)? Will your business primarily do business online?
Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Another vital question to consider at this stage is, what makes your business idea or model unique? Being able to successfully articulate your vision and describe the need for your business in the marketplace to anyone who reads your business plan is paramount. This will be your first step to lasting success.
Who are your company’s top competitors? Every business has competition, even if they’re on the bleeding edge of innovation. If there isn’t currently a competitor, think about who else might see the opportunity you’ve realized, and move quickly to launch in your industry as well.
Who is on your leadership team? Why are they suited to make your business successful? This information can be especially useful when you’re planning to use your business plan to seek investment.
Some people simply don’t want the responsibility of managing other people—they’re going into business for themselves for other reasons, and they simply don’t have plans for the company to grow in the foreseeable future. Other entrepreneurs start the planning process with a concept that requires employees or with a vision for market domination. Knowing how big you see your company becoming in the next few months (and even years) will drive key business plan components.
Who do you think your core customer or clientele truly is? Be specific. If you’re starting a SaaS (software as a service) company, your target market isn’t actually everyone with a computer or mobile device. Think through the specifics—demographics, age, gender, income level.
2. What is your short-term goal for this business plan?
Are you planning to head right out to start getting investors and seeking bank funding as soon as you have your business plan in hand, or are you looking for a roadmap to help you safeguard and manage funding you already have?
Will you be working with the Small Business Administration, or buying a franchise? If you’re not ready to start a business at all, and you’re looking to get a plan as confirmation that your idea is viable, you might be better served by getting a feasibility study first. This kind of study offers in-depth insight into whether your business concept has the potential to succeed, and it is a great first step if you’re simply looking to test the waters.
Knowing what you expect to do with your plan once you have it will help your business planning expert provide you with a finished product that meets your exact needs.
3. Do you need funding? If so, what kind, and how much?
“Wait,” you’re thinking. “Isn’t my business plan writing support team supposed to help me figure that out?” It’s true—we can and we will.
But you’re in the driver’s seat, and at least generally, knowing the kind of funding that you’re looking to acquire will allow your business planning expert to move forward more quickly and also to ensure that the plan you receive is perfectly tailored to your funding needs.
There are several types of funding you might want to consider, each having their own set of requirements:
Bank/SBA funding: This is a classic, tried-and-true funding method: approved lending institutions offer SBA loans. A portion of the SBA loan is guaranteed by the Small Business Administration and requires documentation and attention to detail that anything associated with the government will always entail. SBA loans must adhere to a strict set of regulations, and an SBA-compliant business plan (with all the right business plan sections) is a requirement.
Investors: Investors will want to see a business plan that clearly shows a reward for them and how long they’ll have to wait for a return on their investment. There are also many different kinds of investors, all with different priorities. Funding from investors can offer your business a jumpstart, but it comes with many expectations for performance and profit attached.
Family and friends: Many people make the mistake of thinking they don’t need a complete business plan when looking to friends and family for a loan or investment. Nothing could be further from the truth. In many cases, family and friends are putting their own hard-earned savings on the line when they agree to buy into your business dream. Treat them with at least the same amount of care, courtesy, and professional respect that you would offer a stranger.
As for how much funding you might need, consider your intentions. Are you looking to buy supplies for a sole proprietorship focused on handcrafted goods, or hoping to start a restaurant that will need a physical location and an updated kitchen?
Knowing what you’ll need funding for will help you and your business planning expert work together to formulate a reasonable funding amount for you to seek, and make sure your plan has the right business plan elements. Due to the intricacies involved in this stage of the business planning process, many new and seasoned entrepreneurs rely on the expertise of a professional business plan writer.
Finally, one of the most important things to consider is also one of the simplest:
You are the heart, soul, and voice of your company, and no one should be more committed and passionate about the business building process than you.
If you’re just dipping your toe in the water to see how the planning process might play out, that can be a useful exercise, but the resulting plan won’t be as good as the one you support with your enthusiasm and due diligence.
The greatest return on investment is the success that grows from investing the most valuable commodity of all: your time.