If you want to start a business and you’re looking for investment, either from banks or from private investors, you’re going to need a business plan.
A business plan is a document that details various aspects of a proposed business, including the aims of the business, the background of the individuals starting the business, details of the products and services that are on offer, the market, competition, strengths and weaknesses, operations, pricing strategy and financial forecasts.
Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats
The SWOT analysis is a really great way of getting a quick snapshot profile of a new business. Strengths may be people skills or a unique product, weaknesses may be a poor understanding of technology or lack of funds, opportunities could be new government legislation or globalisation, or those things could just as easily be threats.
Operations covers the logistics, the nitty gritty of how the business will run. It includes: production, delivery, payment, suppliers, premises, equipment, transport, legal; requirements, insurance requirements and management and staff.
Pricing strategy is absolutely key to the success and failure of any business, and is probably the aspect that has most entrepreneurs tearing their hair out. Price too high and you may drive customers away, but equally pricing too low can be a disaster as it gives the impression of poor quality and may mean margins are too tight.
There are two kinds of people in the world, – those who love financial forecasts, and those who hate them. Either way, your business needs them. If it’s a new business, especially with a new product, the numbers will largely be guesswork, but putting price of units against number sold against expenses should give you an idea of whether the business is in any way feasible. For example, if it turns out you have to shift 3000 units per week just to break even but you can only manufacture 1000 per week, you’ve got yourself a problem.