Starting a business is not something you just do right off your mind.
Since there is too much to cover, It requires systematic planning and a checklist to give time to every aspect.
Without a business planning checklist, you are most likely to miss out or go unprepared out there and end up missing your mark as an aspiring entrepreneur.
An extensive business planning checklist includes everything you need to start your business.
The Essential Business Plan Checklist
Coming Up With An Idea
The idea is the foundational seed of your business, where the inception usually begins from.
It is also which is going to develop the very concept of your business and how it will be operated and functional.
Make sure the idea you come up with is unique.
The first approach for any idea seems to be something worth changing the world but it is essential to step back and analyze your idea on various metrics.
You need to make sure that your idea will stand tall with the test of time. It is necessary to ensure whether it is worth your time and money or not.
Here’s how you can do it :
- Check the validation of the idea on whether it solves a real-life problem of a target audience.
- Make sure it can be monetized to a certain scale, and in what ways.
- Check the viability of the idea on whether there is a solution to offer and you can offer it.
- Understand the market size, potential target audience, competitors and other market-related factors.
- See how you can bring people onboard on this and what skillset and people you need for this.
- You need to learn how to start this business, create your product and target your potential customers.
- Take your time and think it over, be honest to yourself and be sure about the idea that this is exactly what you want, and move ahead with.
Finding Your Market
According to CB Insight Research, 42% of startups or small businesses fail because their products weren’t needed in the market.
No matter how great your product is, but if there is no demand in the market or if there is no substantial number of potential target consumers, your business is bound to fail.
So to prevent this, it is essential you begin from market research and finding the right product or market fit for your small business.
Having the right fit for your product or market eventually gives you opportunity to have enough happy customers to become your sales representatives.
Finding the right market to serve your product or create a product that serves the right market.
Tips for finding your market :
- Identify who your target customers are. You need to create certain types of archetypes or personas of ideal customers to have a clearer picture.
- Start from one product or certain set of products resolving a particular problem of your target customer. Do not overcrowd your inventory.
- Focus on one particular offer, and put your all efforts to make it irresistible for your target customers, also really valuable.
- Do not dilute or compensate your core or primary product with offers or discounts.
- Focus on delivering the benefits of your product which customers cannot get anywhere else.
- You have to stay flexible and keep re-evaluating the needs and wants of your target audience and update your product accordingly.
Write A Business Plan
Business Plan Checklist
- Executive Summary
- Mission Statement
- Company Goals
- Company Objectives
- Background Information
- Organization, Administration & Management
- Product/Service Line
- Marketing Plan
- Financial Statements & Projections
Before you start writing your business plan, there are certain guidelines you can follow and information you need to put on the checklist.
You are also considering re-evaluating your existing business plan and updating it using the following guide.
You need to make sure that one can get a brief idea about your business concept after reading your summary.
You need to summarize the required details in the executive summary of your business. It should be clear, detailed but yet very concise.
Make sure it is to the point and convincing, so your prospect reader can connect to it and affiliate with it.
The idea is to make the readers want more about your business.
The Mission Statement for your business should sum up the vision, values and objectives your company stands for or focussed to fulfill.
You also will expand on the goals and objectives of your company.
Make sure your business plan includes :
- Clear objective of your business
- Philosophy of your business or the owners through which they plan or intend to run the company.
- Clear trajectory of your company in upcoming years
- Stating how your company serves to the target customers
- Pointing out what makes your business unique as compared to others
- Show a set of goals with deadlines to meet
In this section, you need to present the industry in which your business primarily operates.
The background information comprises all stages of the company’s development. It also includes your growth strategy and its implications occurred time to time.
The business plan must include :
- Clear insight on where your company is heading towards
- Reflecting the current situation or stage of development
- Outline of your growth strategy
- Detailing the economical, social and political trends that affect your industry
- Industry trends in past and present affecting the business
Organization & Business Management
You need to provide the legal aspect of company ownership. This section should cover all the information about the people and the hierarchy running your business.
Your business plan must include :
- Outlining the qualification, credentials and responsibilities of your management team
- Must show legal form of ownership of your company
- Estimation of a time duration under addition personnel will be hired
- Availability of your employees require growth
- Demonstration on how accounts, budgets, and records are stored and managed.
- Addressing the current issues at workplace
- Highlighting the strength and weaknesses of your management team
Product/ Service Line
Here you need to mention the products or services your company will be offering.
It needs to be detailed and convincing about its application, target customers and other aspects.
Your business plan must include:
- Defining all the products and/or services your company will offer
- Explain the benefits your product or services offers to their target customer
- Mention the life or lifecycle of your products/services
- Mention the seasonality of your product or services
- Discuss the upcoming or new products or services
- Address the suppliers if needed or appropriate
- State any possible inventory management issues, challenges or problems
The marketing plan should highlight the markets where the company is inclined to serve their products.
The marketing plan includes three distinct areas :
- Market Analysis
- Competitive Analysis
- Marketing Strategy
Here are essential points your business plan must include under marketing plan section:
- Clear depiction of target market where business marketing strategy will be primarily focussed
- Describe your target customer profile vividly
- Detailing your target market with researched information such as demographics etc.
- Identifying your competitors in the market
- Discussing your strengths and weaknesses as compared to your competitors
- Providing a detailed customer service plan
- Addressing the management or strategy to maintain the quality in production or meeting the customer expectations/demand.
- Pricing of your product
- Stating the tracking and analysis strategy for your marketing efforts
- Addressing the delivery of your product or service to your customers
Financial Statements & Year Projections
In this section, you need to enlist your company’s financial requirements to meet the company objectives and ensure the consistent growth.
It must include customer acquisition cost, cash flow projections, investments, financial statements and other related documentation.
The business plan must include:
- Include the financial assumptions and predictions
- Assuring that business expenses are listed and accounted
- Illustrating the financial feasibility of your company
- Identifying the break-even point of every product or service, if any
- Addressing the cash flow of your business
Setting Team Lineup
One of the crucial aspects to plan your business is to set up your team lineup. Without an effective team, you are unlikely to grow.
It’s time to hire people for the top of the food chain to manage your business on different or significant fronts.
Lot of successful tech giant brands such as Apple, Microsoft or Google were started with a team of two people.
More credible team members ensure trust in the company for any potential investors or client.
In fact, Investors are 30% more likely to fund your business at the initial phase if you have a co-founder or more team members.
Developing Sales & Marketing Strategy
Coming up with an effective sales and marketing strategy as early as possible is the one of the best things you can do.
Lots of startups begin to focus on sales and marketing after coming out in the field which only hassle you at a crucial stage.
So create a sales and marketing strategy right at the planning stage of your business.
Make sure you include following :
- Positioning of your brand: Decide how you are going to position your brand to your target customer.
- Setup your sales goals: With an extensive business plan laid out, targeted sales to achieve in the following year is a crucial point to add. Have set goals for sales, so you can analyze your progress and move towards a direction.
- Creating a brand identity: What kind of emotions, values or messaging you give to the world? Decide a consistent messaging in your communication to maintain it on multi-faceted channels.
- Building online presence: Establish your social media accounts for your business which must be inclined to your brand positioning and brand identification.
Business Registration & Legalities
One of the most overlooked aspects of business planning, is the proper registration and legal issues related to your business.
Setting up your business requires some paperwork and legalities to follow. It is to ensure your authority on the business and authenticity towards the country law.
Here are most essential steps to follow:
- Decide a business structure: There are various business structures such as sole proprietorship, LLP or partnership to choose. It depends upon your preferences and requirements. Each of them comes with their set of pros and cons.
- Registering brand name: After a proper research and discussion amongst your partners ( if any), come up names which relate to your brand identity and products/services you are offering.
- Trademark/Logo registration: Register your trademark on the logo design and brand name to protect your intellectual property.
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Business, marketing, and blogging – these three words describe me the best. I am the founder of Burban Branding and Media, and a self-taught marketer with 10 years of experience. My passion lies in helping startups enhance their business through marketing, HR, leadership, and finance. I am on a mission to assist businesses in achieving their goals.