The primary objective behind the formation of most business is making money by capitalising on a human need. While making money seems to be the primary focus of every business, it is important to remember that no business can make money without delivering value to its customers. Thus, more than anything else, it is delivering value to the customers that should be the primary focus of every business.
Start by deciding upon a suitable objective for your business (make sure that you write it down). The next step would be to chalk out a plan for your business that would help you achieve your business objective(s).
Drafting a business plan would involve answering a series of questions relating to the various aspects of your business. By the end of this exercise you will have enough data to frame a concrete plan for your business.
1. What is the primary product or service that your business would be offering?
2. What are the products or services currently being offered by your competitors?
3. How would you like to distinguish your products or service from those of your competitors?
4. What are the specific human needs that you would like to cater to?
1. Who are your target customers?
2. What age group do they belong to?
3. What income group do your customers generally belong to?
4. How large is your target customer base? Are they concentrated or geographically disbursed.
5. What is their average education profile?
6. Are your customers tech-savvy?
1. Who are your primary competitors?
2. How intense is the competition?
3. What are the advantages that your primary competitors have over you?
4. What would be your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)?
5. Have you identified any deficiencies in the products/services offered by your competitors that you would like to capitalize upon?
Unless you are an organization delivering services online, your business location will have an important say in the success or failure of your enterprise. The questions that you should be asking yourself include:
1. Is your business location easily accessible? How good are the amenities like the availability of parking space?
2. Is your proposed business location conducive to the kind of business you are in?
3. How do you propose to acquire the site for your business – rent, lease or outright purchase?
Advertising and Sales Promotion.
1. How do you plan to reach out to your target audience?
2. What is your advertising budget?
3. What advertising and promotional strategies are currently being employed by your competitors? How effective are these strategies?
4. Is there a possibility to woo your target audience online? If yes, are there any specific promotional strategies (eg. Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing) that you have in mind.
5. Does your business need a website? If yes, are you aware of SEO?
6. Are there any less explored (among your competitors) advertising medium that you would like to explore.
7. Have you considered the idea of a mobile app for your business.
1. What are your initial capital requirements?
2. How do you plan to raise the requisite capital?
3. Have you made a realistic (and not optimistic) projection of expected cash inflows and outflows for the next one to three years?
4. When do you expect to break-even?
5. How do you plan to acquire any asset (machinery, computers, vehicles etc) that you might require? Do you purchase them outright or acquire them on lease/rent?
1. How would you price your products and services?
2. How do your competitors price their products or services?
3. Have you determined the expected unit cost of production/service delivery?
Supply and Distribution.
1. What are the principal inputs in your production process?
2. What are your most important sources of supply?
3. How would you select your suppliers?
4. How efficient are your supply and distribution chains?
5. Are there any identified bottlenecks in the supply or distribution chain?
Staffing and Manpower Requirements.
1. What are your current manpower requirements?
2. How do you plan to recruit the manpower that you require?
3. What are the distinct skill-sets that your employees should possess?
4. Do they need any specialized training?
5. Salary, wages etc.
Note: This list is by no means exhaustive.
These questionnaires serve as a framework that helps you identify the various issues that you might face as a business owner and plan ahead of time. An exercise like this will give you an overall picture of your business and its needs as well as provide a benchmark to see if you’re reaching your goals.
Your business plan is the path that will lead your business to success.
A Final Few Words
While a business plan should be written, it does not mean that the same is not open to changes. In fact, a business plan; in order to remain effective, should be reviewed regularly and updated to reflect the ever changing business environment.
Thanks for your time. Good Luck!