If you are launching your first startup, the chances are that you are looking forward to taking your first steps onto the road of entrepreneurship. You have probably had a burgeoning business idea for decades, only to keep putting it off.
Now that you have finally waved goodbye to your overbearing boss and steady wage, you want to make sure that you cross the ts and dot the is. After years of waiting for this moment, you need to make sure that you have your business funded and you need to ensure that it’s a viable money making venture.
To do this, you need to construct a business plan. This isn’t a rushed generic document that you complete only for it to be filed away never to see the light of day again. A business plan needs to be a working document and your bible for the first few years of your existence.
A well thought out, and planned document should help you develop your business entity, get it funded and expand when the time comes. It isn’t merely a business vision, although it should be based around this.
Your business plan should be your shoe in for funding, hiring the best staff and creating your unique ethos. Take a look at the sorts of things you should be putting into your business plan.
The major part of your business will be ensuring that you have the funding needed to make a success of your venture. You need a buoyant cash flow and enough money to make sure that you can fulfil your first orders.
Your business plan should help you secure this. You need to consider your finances for at least the first three years of trading. Consider the value you put on your company and how much of a stake you might be willing to part with in return for a cash injection.
When looking at your potential orders, customer base and cash flow, you need to think about your gross and net profit projections for the near future.
Don’t simply guess and conduct some research into your competition. When presenting your business plan to your bank manager, you need to ensure that your figures are watertight. While your bank manager might be the traditional method of funding, there are alternatives.
The ethereal sounding business angel could be a real asset to your business. Alongside pocketfuls of cash, these exceptionally talented beacons of industry are keen to support those up and coming entrepreneurs within their fields.
A pitch to a business angel is where your business plan will really come into its own and show its worth. You must make sure that you know your gross from your net.
You need to be prepared to be interrogated on your figures and be willing to show how you can mitigate any risks that your business may face. Don’t retreat and become defensive, saying that your startup is perfect without any risk. This is unrealistic and shows a naivety.
Instead, use a tool like Comurce and use their risk and issues management application to help you formulate plans for how to enhance the viability of your venture.
When pitching ensure that you enthuse your audience with your passion and talents. They are investing in you as much as your startup. Be prepared to give a chunk of your business away for a cash injection.
Remember, you aren't simply securing money, but you’ll also have a bank of ready made contacts, a listening ear, and decades worth of industry experience at the end of the phone.
As a new business owner, there is no way that you will be able to fulfil every duty to a high standard. You could go away on courses and training, but a more prudent business decision might be to outsource.
You were a specialist in your full time role, but now you’ll need to be the managing director, the finance assistant, the marketing manager, the social media guru, the IT whizz and the chief tea maker.
These roles need more than one person to complete them. As such, consider pumping some of your cash into utilising off site experts. You will meet them and formulate a plan to help achieve your business vision.
If you know nothing about search engine optimisation, you could end up wasting a small fortune on a pointless Good AdWords campaign. Instead, use the experts and employ them to get more followers on Twitter, to direct traffic to your website or to analyze your demographics and traffic sources.
They are knowledgeable and will work with you to create a bespoke digital marketing strategy. This will be money well spent when you consider the sales that could be generated.
It’s not just core business functions that can be outsourced. If you employ staff, payroll can be a massive pain in the neck. This tedious task can result in you taking an entire afternoon out to sort.
Instead of sorting this yourself, consider hiring a specialist agency to conduct your payroll for you. This means you no longer have to tear yourself away from more pressing issues and you won't have to worry about tax obligations and your pension contributions.
Sometimes you will need to hire staff to carry out duties that you cannot. This means budgeting and working out when you may need to hire in conjunction with your business expansion.
While you might be able to get away with having a home office and minimal overheads, you will need to consider premises as you grow your capability.
You may need office space to house staff, a warehouse to store stock or a commercial kitchen if you manufacture food products.
You will need to work through your available budget and construct a plan within your plan for hiring the best personnel. Will you go for experience over youth? Qualifications over personality?
A business plan is more than a scribble on the back of a cigarette packet. Your business plan should be by your side at all times; a working document that you can adapt, share and utilise to help your business become successful.