Creating a business plan for your small business may seem like a daunting task, but it’s an important one. A well thought out plan helps you clarify exactly what your business is all about and can become the roadmap to your success.
The first step — define your business.
What service are you providing or problem are you solving? What exactly are you selling? If you’re starting out, keep your focus narrow. Trying to do too many things at once could lend itself to spreading yourself too thin. That doesn’t mean you won’t capture your future goals. They’re part of your vision. Record them for when you’re ready to expand — growing one step at a time.
You’re different, but how?
Is your business providing a product that no one else is offering? Find that niche that will make your business stand out and give you a competitive edge. Chances are good you won’t be the only vendor in the market, so what makes you different from all the others? Once you have the answer, you’ll want to put steps in place to stay true to your promise.
Really think about this one. It’s going to give you lots of good fodder to feed your brand and build your marketing plan.
Competition is abundant
Speaking of competition. Remember I said chances are you won’t be alone? In 2020, according to Stats Canada, there were more than 1.2 small businesses (1-99 employees). Unless your business is totally niche, you’re going to have competition. Don’t dismiss them. One of the best steps you can take is to understand your competition. Who are they and what makes you different? You may be offering a similar product, but what makes your product unique or how will your customer experience be different?
Know your customer
Who are your customers? Really think about who’s buying your product. What do their buying habits look like and how will you best reach them? Do a little online research, or spend some time watching and listening. If you have an online business, how are they finding you and what are they searching for? If you provide an in-person service, what questions are they asking when they come? What you know about your customers will feed into your marketing plan and help you polish your business plan.
It’s time to set your goals
Now that you know more about your business, it’s time to crunch some numbers. Consider the products or services you offer and the revenue you realistically will make in your first, second, fifth year. Set some milestones to track your progress. As you forecast, consider slower seasons. For example, if you have a construction business building small sheds, production may not be as high in the winter months when construction is slowed by colder weather. If you have an online shop, your business may pick up during the holidays when more people are shopping for gifts.
It’s your small business
I always like to advise new business owners to spend the time answering the tough questions that will help define and focus your business. I’m a firm believer in building a plan and following it. A plan will help you stay consistent and contribute to your success. Now go do it!