To create a successful small business from home, it helps to start with a business plan.
Of course, drafting such a document when you don’t have any experience doing so can seem like a challenge. How long should it be? What information should it include? Do you follow the plan consistently, or do you adjust it?
The information here should help simplify the process and help you better understand what essential information to include in an early draft.
Keep It Short
The initial business plan can be a “mini-plan” you use to develop a more thorough document in the future. The ideal length for a mini-plan is about 10 pages.
When you’re satisfied with your mini-plan, you can expand on it to create a longer working plan that you’ll refer to during regular operations. This is important if you hire others and need them to be familiar with your goals and essential processes. However, when you’re just starting out, you can simply use your mini-plan as a basic tool.
Describe the Company
The business plan should begin with a section in which you describe exactly what product or service your company offers. You may think this is a simple concept you don’t need to put down on paper. However, as you flesh out the details, you’ll realize that’s not the case.
For example, perhaps you’re starting a freelance graphic design business. That’s a broad category. Are you going to design the visual elements of websites? Book covers? Albums? Company logos? Odds are good you’re going to focus on certain markets. Use the description of your company to determine specifically what those markets are.
It’s also smart to describe how your company differs from others. Why will a client choose you when they could go with another option? This exercise helps you identify the ways your business can stand out.
Analyze the Market
Your small business is much more likely to succeed if you take the time to analyze the market first. Identify and describe who your clients or customers will be. Explain where you’ll find them.
Keep in mind that the nature of your business will have an impact on this section’s content. If you’re offering graphic design for websites, you can target clients throughout the world. If you’re focusing on graphic design for small local businesses, your market analysis should reflect this.
A crucial element of the market analysis involves studying what your successful competitors do right, as well as what they can improve on. This also helps you identify ways to stand out from the competition.
Calculate Funding Requirements
Calculate how much money you’ll probably need to spend on your business in the early stages. Then calculate how much funding you currently have. You can also account for funding you expect to generate, but be conservative in your estimates. This part of your business plan is simply a practical element that will help you avoid financial surprises as you start and grow your company.
You might also want to include a funding request. If you think you’ll need help from investors to get your business off the ground, use your financial projections to estimate how much funding you’ll need. Include ideas for how you’ll secure it. That may involve approaching a bank or someone with the capital you need for a loan.
Keep in mind, as you expand on your business plan and develop future iterations of it, it could be a good idea to create a separate presentation plan designed specifically to attract investors.
Outline Marketing Strategies
A strong marketing strategy should have its own document. That said, your business plan should include some basic information about marketing.
Once you’ve described your business and the clients you intend to serve, you need to also decide how you plan on getting the attention of potential clients. This element of the plan is where you explain general ideas for reaching out to those interested in your products or services.
Organization of the Business
This element may not be necessary if you’re the only one involved in the business and expect it to remain that way for the foreseeable future. However, if your business will consist of a multimember team, create a chart that illustrates management’s organizational structure
This can help you more effectively grow the business when you do add new employees or departments. Knowing the overall structure helps you identify who manages who in the business.
Again, these are just the basics, but they’ll get you started. Refer to your business plan and build upon it as you build your company. You’re much more likely to succeed if you actively maintain and develop a strong roadmap.