Welcome to Dot London’s Guide to Start-ups.
Over a course of 5 short pieces, we’ve provided a lowdown of all the key questions any budding entrepreneurs may need answering before establishing their business.
These are broken down as follows:
- Step 1: How to Write a Business Plan
- Step 2: How to Choose the Perfect Business Name
- Step 3: How to Choose Your Business Structure
- Step 4: How to Finance Your New Business
- Step 5: How to Make Sure You’re Ready to Start Your Business
Simply read on for Step 1, or choose another topic from the links above. Don’t forget, you can discover tips and tricks from fellow business owners via our Dot Londoners’ Portal.
When thinking about starting a new business, this is the first thing you should focus on. A business plan simply sets out what you want to achieve and how you plan to go about it. If you don’t require major financial backing or to instantly hire a busload of staff, it can be as simple as a few bullet points on a one page document.
Treat it as a snapshot of where you are and what you want to achieve at the very beginning of starting a business. It will help you achieve some clarity about where you are at and what your next steps are going to be. Once things get underway, you can add to it, but for now let’s begin with the essentials.
Break your business plan down into the following sections:
This section is all about you. Use the following questions as a guide.
- What is your business?
- Where do you hope it will go?
- How will you build your business?
This is about planning out the business you will build.
- What product or service are you specifically providing?
- What is your target market?
- How will what you provide address their needs?
- How will you provide your service (e.g. online, from home, from a premises?)
This section is explicitly about how your business will be profitable.
- How much will you charge for what you provide?
- How will you be competitive and yet profitable?
This is about making your potential customers aware of your business. The following questions may be a useful starting point.
- How will you market your good services? (website, email, social media, advertisements)
- Will you use promotions, such as discounts, to attract interest to your new business?
- What marketing materials will you use? (business cards, flyers)
It’s important to set some objectives to measure your progress and take action if things don’t seem to be working. Examples could include:
- How much income in the first year would represent a good start?
- How many customers would you like to attract in the first 6 months?
- How many website hits and conversions do you want to achieve?
Also think about what obstacles could prevent you achieving these objectives and what can you do to tackle them.
Make a list of what you need to do and when you need to achieve it by. Just think of this as a to-do list, except this time you’re really going to need to do these things!
Examples could include:
- When will you have your website set up by?
- When will you have a contract with a supplier negotiated and signed?
- When will you finish your social media plan?
From this point, your business plan will naturally expand and get more specific as you begin to take action. At the start of your entrepreneurial adventure, however, even a basic plan will give you a solid foundation on which to build your business.