How many of you just broke into a cold sweat with your belly full of butterflies? Is your heart thumping audibly? Don’t worry. It sounds a lot worse than it actually is.
Congratulations, you are staring your own business. The bank, or your main investors, or even your nearest and dearest want to see what you are going to be doing. You need to have a Business Plan. Now, I am a huge fan of plans anyway. I love plans (and lists) so writing one for a business is not really a stretch or a struggle for me. However I appreciate that this kind of thing can scare others absolutely silly. Here is what you need to have in your business plan.
1) What are you intending to do? You need to be clear about what your business is going to offer. It might be very specialist, it might be very generalist, it might have three or four different specialisms all together, whatever it is, you need to be clear about what you want your business to do. So, Viridian Herbalist is going to offer Herbalism consultations, Life Coaching Consultations and Micro and small Business consultancy services, which let’s face it, is quite a wide offering!
2) How do you intend on providing your services? You need to have a very clear idea of this. After all, this is going to be your business, so there can be no confusion or indecision. That will not impress your investors, and it might cause problems in the business itself. For example, I thought I would be spending time preparing herbal preparations and selling them, but have discounted this on the basis that I will never make any money at all, and quite probably wear myself out entirely. Instead, I am going to offer consultations for Herbalism where I can help my clients take a look at their lifestyle and health issues and suggest herbal methods to boost their life energy and help them to get better. You need to think about the mechanics of what you are going to do as well as the more conceptual side.
3)Who is going to do what? This is particularly important if you are going to be working with another person. For me, it is less important because this is going to be me doing it all. You do not want to start your business with arguments about who is going to do what, do you?
4) What do you intend to charge for it? Let’s face it, this is the crux of the whole matter isn’t it? Yes, there are numerous benefits to working for yourself, but most of us are here to get some money in our back pocket. There is no point in approaching the market with your talents and your special skill set, if you have no idea what you are going to charge. Before you decide your time is worth £X, you need to do some mathematics and some research and make sure that your target amount isn’t going to price you out of the market. No point charging £1,000 per hour if your competitors (and potential clients) are going to point and laugh!
5) How are you going to market it? No business just gets clientele. You need to work at getting your name known. How are you going to do this? You need to have a plan. It might be traditional advertising, it might be social media advertising, it might be word of mouth advertising, you might even have a database of people you can approach with your services. Make sure your marketing plan is coherent and comprehensive. And achievable.
6) What do you hope your cashflow is going to look like? This is the tricky bit. That word “cashflow” can strike dread into the heart of the most high flying entrepreneur, but the fact is that you need the cash to come in so you can make money. If you don’t have cash, then you don’t have a business. Pretty simple, isn’t it? You also need to take account of your costs, and what you bottom line (ie the difference between money going out and money coming in) might look like. There are some great resources online for what a cashflow forecast might look like.
Now you know what to put into a business plan, then next thing you need is to present it. Most people would counsel to make it look amazing. I would say yes for a bank manager, not so much for your nearest and dearest. Back of napkin would do. A printed sheet would be better, but the napkin is equally acceptable!
If you require any further help about writing a business plan, then please let me know. Leave a message with your email address and I will contact you directly with my schedule of charges. I assure you, I am very good value. (Yes, I have written my business plan, and this is part of my marketing plan! :D)