Thursday 20 March, 2014
There is a lot that goes into planning a business. Obviously a short article like this isn’t going to cover everything, but I thought I’d offer up a few of the very basics that should go into your business planning. Here are five important things you need to do.
Getting to Know You
Get to know your customers. Identify who they are and learn as much as you can about them. When you find them, reach out to them and start a two-way dialog. It’s incredibly easy to do this online, especially with social media.
In addition to who they are and general demographic information, find out about their current buying habits. Who do they buy from and how do they feel about it? Try to understand their needs, problems and pain so that you can step in to offer solutions.
Business Goal Planning
Goal planning is incredibly important for businesses. You shouldn’t do anything without goals in mind. Start by identifying an overall goal for your business. Then, break it down into smaller sub-goals. This helps you create a plan of action.
You should also identify challenges you’ll face along the way. What obstacles keep you from reaching these goals? What resources do you need that you currently don’t have access to?
Spell out Your Systems
SOP stands for ‘standard operating procedures’ and it refers to the basic processes of running a business. If you’re working as a freelancer or solo entrepreneur you probably don’t realize it but you do have SOPs. You just haven’t defined them. But defining them is very important for hiring employees and securing funding.
Spell out each of your business processes and write them out in a clear, step-by-step way. You can document online processes using screen capture video. Try to create SOPs that anyone can pick up and easily understand.
Learn to Budget
Budgeting doesn’t come as second nature to most people, so it’s only natural that it’s a serious challenge for new businesses. Start by making a ballpark estimation. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Try to imagine all of the expenses you’ll face and write them down.
The key to successful budgeting is to monitor and record your real expenses. Keep track of every penny spent. You can then take your original estimation and tweak accordingly until you have something accurate.
Prepare for the Worst
What are you going to do is a huge natural disaster strikes? What about if an unexpected illness wipes you out for a week? What if your system crashes? Take any nightmare scenario (not exactly the fun part of planning a business!) and create a plan of action for when things go wrong. Invest in security software and get into a regular routine of backing up your data.
This is far from everything you need to do to get your business started, but it’s a good place to start.