While it may all seem overwhelming to a new entrepreneur to create a plan for your business, it’s actually very simple. Here are a few of the things you need to consider…
What are you offering?
Businesses offer either products or services. Firstly, you need to decide what value you will be providing. One of the biggest factors for your business success will be whether you have determined a service or product that people understand and want.
As you identify what you offer, you have to determine who is going to buy your product or service. Who will benefit from and recognise the value that you offer. Ideally your target market should be fairly narrow rather than massive – if you can target a small but very enthusiastic group of people that is often more successful for a business than appealing to the mass market. Write down a list of their key characteristics – age group, gender, where they live, what social class, what they do as a job, what they do in their spare time, do they have children etc. The more focused on them specifically you are the better.
You can find out about your target market by hanging out in online forums or reading the publications that they commonly read related to your product. Your target market may be people exactly like you or someone you know, where would you/they go to find out about a new product or service? Get to know the people in your target market and understand what they want and need.
Your delivery model is primarily a framework for how you’re going to get your product or service to your target market. How are you going to deliver the goods? If you’re a traditional business, your delivery system is often your store or office. Online, it is usually centered around a blog or website.
Your biggest challenge is determining your operating costs (which you don’t know yet) and pricing your product. You’ll need to make a huge list of everything you need to buy. This includes items for your office, software, web hosting, phone, transport costs, utilities, and every other little expense.
Next, you’ll need to price your products. Again, this can be tricky. Start by deciding how much of a profit you want to make on each unit sold. Add that to the basic cost to you of what you’re offering and that will give you the price. If the market would not pay that amount then you may have to think again – businesses HAVE TO MAKE A PROFIT or it is not a business!
If you’re offering a service, start by deciding how much you’d like to make per hour and set your price accordingly. You also need to take into account what other people are already paying for a similar service for example childcare services would attract less money per hour that massage therapy.
Price is directly related to the quality of the goods you’re offering, but it’s really up to your target market. One good way to find out whether the price is right is to put your product on the shelves at the price you want to sell it for, and then see if people buy. If they don’t, this tells you the price is too high. Similarly with a service – offer it and see if people are willing to pay that price. Maybe trial two or three price points to test that the service or product is what people actually want. Check out your competition by looking at websites or stores that are selling similar items and see what they’re charging.
For other financial advice regarding setting up a business, taxes and other legal obligations it is advisable to find a good accountant and possibly also a solicitor. Ask other business people who they use and recommend.
Set Realistic Goals
Real businesses set goals. These are specific targets that are measurable and realistic. Goals give you something to aim for and a sense of achievement when you’ve reached them. Set deadlines for your goals to keep you focused and monitor your progress. If you’re not experienced at goal setting, this is no problem, as long as you set them. It’s a skill like any other and practice will perfect it. By setting your goals you draw a line in the sand and define your milestones for getting things done. Goals can be broken down into small bite-sized activities that help you end up with the outcome you want.
Branding Your Business
Finally, you need to brand your business. It sounds complicated, but your brand is what sets you apart from your competition and makes you memorable. It tells people what makes you special and what results you provide. Brand image is often more important to customers than the actual goods and services offered, especially if you are offering something that other people offer but in a different way.
Trial and Error
To make your business a reality, you need to be organized and on top of everything. However, very few people are that organized when they first start out. It always takes some trial and error, and sometimes there are difficult lessons to be learned.
It is important to stick with your goals and stay positive, and you’ll learn the lessons you need to succeed. The key trick with trial and error is to accept the learning, whether it was a success or a failure, and pick yourself up and keep going!
If you need any help with setting up a business please get in touch! We can point you in the right direction for more information and support.