Who among us hasn’t fantasized of being our own boss, a successful entrepreneur? Perhaps you’ve spent years as a top salesperson and are confident in your abilities to produce and convert leads. Maybe you work in a small business and believe you could run your own, which would be even better. You may enjoy people, food, music, and alcohol, so the restaurant or nightclub industry has always piqued your interest. Alternatively, you may have developed a superior widget and wish to commercialize it through your own company. Whatever the case may be, you’ve arrived at a point where you want to start your own business.
So you’ve got a great idea and nothing is going to stop you, but you’ll need money to make it happen. So, what’s next? Most entrepreneurs will feel compelled to create a pitch deck, company plan, and financial forecast at some point. Some do so to entice friends and relatives, banks, angel investors, or venture capitalists to invest. Others intend to put their own money into the venture, but still want to write a plan to think it through and lay out a road to success. In any case, a business strategy is a necessary tool.
Preparing these documents is a huge, time-consuming challenge for most entrepreneurs. There are advisors who specialize in company planning, which is fortunate. However, hiring a consultant too early in the process may result in a waste of time and money. To get the most out of a consultant relationship, what actions should you take before employing one?
Here are the four most important measures to take:
- Research and find answers to important questions: You have a gut feeling that your business concept is fantastic, but is there a ready market for it? What is the size of your overall addressable client base? What city are they in? What method will you use to contact them? Which of your direct and indirect competitors do you have? What distinguishes your company as unique and special in the eyes of your customers? Before you put pen to paper, you must first answer all of the important questions.
- Thoroughly examine your business model: Do you have a solid concept and business model, or is it just a concept in need of refinement? Is there a concept drawing available? Is this a prototype? What are the minimum runs and lead times, and where will it be manufactured? How much does each unit cost, including shipping and packaging? Is the product still marketable after you add your markup? Some company planning professionals can assist you with this, but the majority are unable to. In any case, these and other questions must be answered before your plan can be finalized.
- Leasing a suitable property: To get off the ground, nearly all companies will need to sign a lease. This is a critical success factor for manufacturers, restaurants, and shops. You’ll need the funds to obtain the lease, but you won’t be able to secure the lease unless you have the funding. So, what exactly do you do? Take some time to look at suitable properties, improvement expenses, zoning, permissions, and licenses before contacting a business plan expert. Finding a property that matches you, or at least a sample property to utilize in your financial model, could take a few months or longer.
- Marketing expertise for your plan: Most company planning agencies are unable to assist with this aspect of the process and will simply put your thoughts on paper. If you’re working with a firm like that, expect to have spoken with a few marketing businesses ahead of time in order to establish a cohesive marketing plan for your company and understand the costs. Alternatively, hire a business planning firm with marketing expertise that can challenge your assumptions and offer value to your marketing strategy.
It’s not easy to turn your entrepreneurial ambition become a reality. The better prepared you are for business planning, the better your plan will be; the better your strategy, the greater your prospects of raising the funds you’ll need to launch your firm effectively.