Writing a business plan can seem like a lot of work, especially if you’ve never done it before. But don’t be intimidated — creating an effective plan doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. By following the steps outlined below, you’ll have the basics of your business plan written in no time!
Step 1 – Set your goals
It all starts with setting goals. What is the purpose of your company? Are you trying to raise capital, provide a service, or develop new technology? Write these goals down and make sure they are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. To help with goal setting we recommend planning out your business’s key milestones and long-term goals so that you’re confident when approaching investors or other funding sources.
If you’re looking for templates we highly recommend finding one that not only covers what you need but one that can be modified based on the specifics of your company or industry.
Step 2 – Brainstorm ideas
Finding the right idea to start your business will require some brainstorming. Some factors to consider are your personal passions, market trends, and the feasibility of your idea. While this may seem daunting at first, remember that some of the best companies around got their start in someone’s garage or basement. In order to successfully come up with an idea you need to have an open mind and be creative!
Step 3 – Analyze your market and competition
It is also important to list your business competitors, so you know where you stand. This can be in the form of names, logos, or product images. You should note their approximate market share and when they started in the market. Also, include a brief summary of how they are different than your company.
It is necessary to break down the people who will be potential customers of your product. Include information such as location, annual income, age, and more specific data on what he or she might be looking for in terms of an investment product or purchase. What percentage would each type represent? Who has the most power in this decision?
Step 4 – Prepare the executive summary
An executive summary is the part of your business plan that will get investors to read the rest of your business plan. You want to introduce the company and give them an overview of how you see it growing and succeeding. Be succinct, professional, and concrete. Your best bet is to end with a statement about how much money you need, or what specific pieces are missing from your team (i.e., We want someone with five years of experience in marketing or We need capital to open our first location).
Step 5 – Write the details of your business model
The last step in the process is to articulate your business model. Be specific and be detailed. What do you want to sell? What services will you provide? Who are your competitors? Who is your target market, and how much money do you want to make by the end of the year? One good strategy is creating three business models: low-end, middle, and high-end.
Step 6 – Detail your target market, marketing strategy, services and products, financial expectations, and business history
Once you have the aforementioned six steps checked off, make sure you are covering all your bases. Have you selected an industry with high ROI potential? Are there any barriers to entry for your proposed market? What about competition? Does your idea stand out from the pack in some way that sets it apart from others? What is your target demographic and what problem are you solving for them? Do the numbers add up? All of these questions should be explored and addressed in one succinct and comprehensive document that represents your best business plan.
Step 7 – Make sure you have all the needed proof points to help your funding goal come true
1. Assess your risk level and desired return – Your business plan should include risk assessment tools, such as benchmarks from comparable investments in your industry or benchmarking tools from third-party providers, to help you find the appropriate financing option. It’s also important to think about which return rate you want – the higher the potential return, the higher the amount of risk your business will have.
2. Focus on what’s new or exciting about your idea – There are many ways to structure your information in order to get funding approval, but one way is to present this information strategically so that it stands out and attracts investors’ attention quickly. One way to do this is by including testimonials and case studies showing what successful companies with similar goals have achieved and how they did it.
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