Mastering Business Planning 101 for Startups

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Mastering Business Planning 101 for Startups

If you’re about to go into business, take the time to master business planning. Startups can unlock more opportunities with a well-thought-out busine

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If you’re about to go into business, take the time to master business planning. Startups can unlock more opportunities with a well-thought-out business plan. Preparing a business plan shows prospective investors, partners, and financers shows you’re an organized and mean business. Here’s what you need to know about business planning. 

Consider Your Exit Strategy

Your exit strategy is just one of the phases of your business and so it’s important to consider this during business planning.

Which one of these exit strategies sounds right for your business:

  • Selling
  • Passing it to a relative
  • Cash out and retire

Knowing your exit strategy will inform how you plan your business. For example, if selling is your top priority you’ll invest in either knowledge or expert help in helping you achieve that. In addition to that, you will have to know when to sell. 

Have a Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is just as important as a business plan in the business planning process.

How are you gonna market your products and your services? 

There’s no single approach to this. 

You really need to think about it for your business. You can test it out, get out there and promote your business. 

But what is the sale strategy for your business?

Are you doing traditional marketing? Will you be doing digital marketing? Will you be introducing Google ads, and LinkedIn as Salesforce tools?

Are you gonna be using Facebook ads or not? 

Have you decided if you’re going to do direct mail marketing? Are you gonna use billboard marketing? There are people that do that and are highly successful at it. 

Are you gonna put signs, marketing signs, and displays on your brick-and-mortar building?

In addition to that, think about whether or not you’ll have business cards and a website. 

Marketing is super important, please take the time to think about these things. 

If you need help with marketing, you can check out, What are the Best Marketing Tools for a Small Business?

Write a Business Plan 

We believe every business should have a business plan whether or not you’re in the start-up phase. It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. 

Your business plan should be a roadmap to structuring, starting, running, and managing your business, growing your business, and exiting.

There are many reasons why a business plan is essential.

For example, investors and grant judges may want to see your business plan. Even though a one-page plan may work for your personal use, always check the criteria for anything you’re applying to find out what needs to be included in your business plan.

Secondly, a business plan is a great guide to get clarity and direction in your business.

Thirdly, when you’re going after big opportunities, you’ll be required to submit a pitch deck. You can take information out of your business plan to include it in it!

But remember, a business plan is a living breathing document. You can’t just write a business plan once and let it gather dust. You should constantly be checking for progress and providing modifications.  

What to Include in Your Business Plan 

Your business plan has to give important information about your business. 

People are afraid of bragging and boasting. 

However, your business plan is not the place to be shy about talking and sharing information about your business. You really want to talk your business up and talk about your company’s strengths. Your business plan is gonna be looked at by people who are making the decision on things like financing your company or even investing in your company. 

Let’s start with some of the essential components of a business plan. 

Executive Summary 

The traditional format usually starts with an executive summary.

It’s basically a short paragraph or two giving the reader a synopsis of your company that is a summary of what your company is, what it does, and why it will be successful. 

This is especially important in the startup phase of your business.

The executive summary should include your:

  • Purpose
  • Mission statement
  • Business model (include your products and services and how you’ll make money)
  • Team details including their skills and location
  • Company’s headquarters
  • Financial information

Company Description

Use your company description to provide detailed information about your company. 

Go into detail about the problems your business solves for your customer base. Be very, very, very specific. 

In your company description, list out your:

  • Consumers
  • Organization
  • Business
  • Company
  • What and who it plans to serve

Marketing Analysis 

To complete this section well, you’ll need a good understanding of the industry that you’re in and the market that you serve. So that takes research.

To do this research you can reach out to:

These organizations will not only help with your market research but they have resource tools and templates that you can utilize. 

Did we mention these resources are free?

Target Market

In your marketing analysis, you have to be specific about who your target market is.

For example, even saying your target is women is not specific enough. That demographic consists of diverse women, women entrepreneurs, single mothers, and so on. Who are you specifically targeting? 

When we talk to small business owners about their target audience, we’ve heard this many times, “anybody that will buy my product.”

We have also heard, “My product is for everybody”, and “My service is for everybody.”

No, it’s not. 

Your business is not for everybody, and everybody is not for you. 

You have to get clear on your target market, which is, who you are serving.

According to Indeed, find out your target audience’s:

  • Location
  • Occupation/Career
  • Values
  • Hobbies
  • Lifestyle
  • Communication preference 
  • Challenges
  • Fears
  • Type of online content they like

Competitor Analysis 

Your marketing analysis should also feature a competitive analysis. 

In order to do that, you’ll need to identify who your competitors are. Research at least five companies for your business plan.

Once you have your top 5 competitors, time to engage with them. 

Have you tried to book a service with your competitors to see how they work? Take note of their process and how responsive they are.

Have you looked at their pricing models? 

So oftentimes you we’re not clear on our pricing, but have you looked at what is already out there? What are other companies asking? What is their pricing like? Having an idea of what the average pricing is can help you price your products and services. 

After researching your competitors, find out what you bring to the table that’s different.

You may bring another perspective, another way to do it. You may you are introducing a new technology that streamlines the process and make it more efficient and it more effective. Or maybe you tap into an untapped audience or market.

Try using tools such as Google Trends to find out what is trending. 

You will also need to do a SWOT analysis of your competitors. That means finding out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats associated with your competitors. 

Organization and Management

The organization and management section focuses on who will be running the business and operating it with you. 

We do not recommend being a solopreneur long-term. You’re going to need a team. In this section write down the name of your team members, how they contribute to the business, and their skills. 

A team can look many different ways. Whether you’re hiring employees, contractors, collaborators, or partners, it is really going to take a team if you want to be really successful. 

If you wanna grow your business and grow it faster, it is going to take a team to be able to do it. 

You won’t be able to do it all by yourself. 

As a matter of fact, doing it by yourself will eventually cause burnout too. That’s one of the number one reasons businesses fail is because of burnout.

Besides knowing who will work in your business, you need to decide your business structure. The business structures are:

  • Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)
  • S Corp
  • L Corp
  • Sole proprietor

A sole proprietor is the easiest legal structure to set up, however, it is the riskiest. Remember that there is no separation between you and the business. 

When deciding your legal business structure, bring in professionals into the planning process to help you make an educated and knowledgeable decision on how you’re structured. How your structure can make a difference in a lot of areas. 

Service and Product Lines 

In this section, describe what you sell and what you offer. If you’re offering products, what are they and how do they cost? 

If you’re offering a service, what are your services and how do you price it?

Thirdly, if you have digital products, packages, or add-on services, list them. 

Explain how what your offer benefits your customers. 

Talk about the product lifecycle, and list your business assets. 

Share your plans for intellectual property.


If you need help business planning for your start-up check out the following resources: 


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