10 Tips For Writing a Winning Startup Business Plan

A startling 80% of businesses fail right out the door. The biggest reasons? A serious lack of clarity about the details of the very business they’ve started.

Which is completely preventable! A solid startup business plan is all that’s missing.

Writing a business plan is how you identify the details about key parts of your business. Not writing one might stunt your business growth or keep you from starting up at all.

Don’t skip it. Give your business the structure it needs. Here are 10 great tips to get you started.

10 Best Tips to Your Startup Business Plan

You’ve had a great idea for a product or service. You know what you want to sell and who you want to sell it to. You could sit down and start writing.

But, that’s not the best way to begin your business plan. You’re missing the details that make it most useful.

So, before you put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, you’ll need to do your research. Here’s a little business plan homework.

Get Ready!

Get your notebook and prepare to brainstorm!

Right now, you’re in the planning phase. You’re only making a few notes before you write your formal business plan. 

Nothing you write down is wrong. Marking things out is completely acceptable. Ugly notes are the best notes!

Ready? Let’s do it!

1. Describe Your Business

Start with a general description. Give it a name, and describe what your business does. Talk about your location and the hours of operation.

Now, move on to your business values. Pick a motto, write a mission statement, and list your core values.

Talk about how you want to treat your customers. List why this business is your passion.

A little branding can help you describe your business, too. Write down things like the domain name you want to buy. Research logos that will represent your business in the market.

2. Your Business Entity

Now, you’re going to start thinking about what kind of business entity you’ll be. There are a few options to choose from.

  • Sole Proprietor
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Corporation
  • S Corporation
  • Corporation

The one you pick depends on how you’ll operate your business and plan to file taxes.

3. Gather Permits and Licenses

Know your entity type? Now you can research permits and licenses for running a business.

You’ll need to look at your local city, county, state and federal requirements. They vary from place to place.

If you’re going to name your business, you may also need to file a DBA. This is a legal naming document. You’ll use it to collect payments from customers and for taxes.

4. List Products and Services

A simple table will do. You need to list your product or service and how much it will cost your customer. Write a description of each one, too.

5. Identify Customers

Who wants to buy your stuff?

You’re running a business, so let’s identify your customers. Not only names and locations, though. Detailed demographics help narrow down your target market.

Think about things like age range, income, and education level of your customers. Where do they work? What kind of interests do they have outside of work?

This kind of information narrows down two things you need: marketing and sales data.

6. Do a Business Budget

You’ll need a good budget for your business plan. Let’s estimate potential income and expenses. 

Start with a budget spreadsheet. You can download a template to get you started.

Don’t put these figures out of thin air. You want them to be accurate or they’re useless. Do more research to find numbers that make sense.

Think about where you’ll operate your business. What kinds of expenses do you think you’ll encounter? Use the spreadsheet to help you think about where you’ll need to spend money.

Income is a little harder. You’ll need to look at your competitor’s data for help. Then, estimate realistic sales data based on how many customers you think you’ll have.

Project figures for your 1st, 3rd, and 5th years in business. These numbers show how your startup business is growing over time.

Plug in the numbers and see how your projected profits and losses look.

7. Need Funding?

Look back at your budget. Do you have enough start-up cash to get going? If not, you’ll need some kind of funding to help you through.

You’ve got a few funding options to consider. But, your business plan will need detailed financials to pitch to investors. After all, you’re trying to convince them to trust it!

If you plan to get funding, you’ll include those plans in your business budget. 

8. Your Business Operations

Who does what in your business? It’s time to decide!

What happens first, next and last in getting a product or service to the customer? Write it down for each one of them. After you’ve listed everything, chart it!

Draw a simple hierarchy of operations. A flowchart with arrows works best. It shows how operations flow and overlap.

Include all executive, administrative, operations, and support duties, too. Identify job titles and responsibilities in the chart. If you already know them, put employee’s names in the chart, too.

9. Plan your Marketing Approach

Remember that demographics data? It’s time to put it to use.

Use that data to plan for how you will market your company. Where will you advertise and how often? What kind of marketing products work for your target audience?

Now you’ve got good data about your marketing costs. Take a minute to double check those advertising and marketing numbers in the budget!

10. Use a Template

You’ve done a great job gathering information. All that effort is about to pay off. It’s time to sit down and do the actual business plan.

The best way to start your business plan is by downloading a template to follow. Choose between traditional or less formal plans. The important thing is including the right information!

Now, plug in your research and tweak that plan until you feel it’s right. You’ll know you’re done when you’ve got a road map to building your business.

Write that Business Plan!

Don’t let your startup business plan be an afterthought. Take the time to gather the information you need, first. Then, write a plan that will give your business the structure it needs to succeed!

Looking for advice about your startup? I’m here to help. Contact me, today!