Writing a business plan is key to outlining what your business is and how you are going to succeed.
Drafting a formal 50-page business plan can be an overwhelming task, so we recommend to our clients that they write a 1-Page Business Plan, as a starting point.
To simplify the process, these are the 3 top questions you need to answer and articulate before starting your document. We have split your work into 2 parts:
It’s quick to write, provides you with a dynamic resource to rely on, helps set your goals and a strategy to reach them. It shows you where you are and what’s required to achieve success. You should revisit and update your plan at least once every year.
Part 1: Market Research
Question 1. Is there a market need?
“If dogs don’t like your dog food, the packaging doesn’t matter.” – Stephen Denny, author and competitive strategy/marketing consultant.
Every successful business has to first confirm the market need. Without a market need, you don’t have a viable business.
A market need is a problem that a specific demographic has, also known as their pain point. When you identify a pain point and an audience craving a solution, you’ve found your market need.
Let’s review a few strategies you can use to confirm market need:
Validate the demand. First step, prove your idea has potential. Validation provides accurate data telling you exactly how many people search for your product/service over a set time – and showing whether your market’s growing or declining.
Assess your competition. Your competitors’ success can also prove the market need. What products/services do they provide? What solution do they solve? And how high is consumer demand?
Assess barriers to enter. What barriers do you need to overcome to enter a particular market with your product and or service offerings? Are there regulatory hurdles, high entry costs, is the market monopolized, does it require a level of creditability (certifications, accreditation, a specific level of experience)?
Question 2. How will you solve the market need?
“Don’t find customers for your products. Find products for your customers”. – Seth Godin, author, and entrepreneur.
Now you must identify how you’ll solve the market need and prove why your solution is better than what’s already available.
To provide a winning solution, first find what is called in marketing your unique selling point (USP). It’s a strategy informing customers about how your product is superior to competitors.
Your USP could be a better product or service, a lower price, a simplified buying process, exceptional customer service, or a new and innovative solution to an existing problem. No two successful businesses have the same USP because if they did, they wouldn’t be unique.
Question 3. Who’s your competition, and how will you beat them?
“I’ve been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.” – Walt Disney, you know the guy!
Without competition, you’ve got one of two things: A business idea no one wants, or one no one yet knows they need.
Both are unsuitable business models for a small business. The ideal business model should have high customer demand, healthy competition, and room for a savvy innovator like you to move in.
You beat your competitors by identifying them, what they offer, and which marketing channels they use to engage their target audience. And you find those by running a competitor analysis.
A competitor analysis identifies your competition’s strengths and weaknesses, their marketing strategies, advertising platforms, and any crucial marketing opportunities they may be missing. Research your competitors to find the base price point for what you’re offering.
Doing so gives you a competitive advantage.
Now you are ready to start writing your 1-Page Business Plan!