The Business Advisory Group is a not-for-profit, volunteer organization of experienced business leaders, dedicated to helping businesses and entrepreneurs overcome obstacles, explore opportunities, and achieve business goals. Our team of business experts volunteer their time to provide independent advice tailored to each client.
Our advisors produce periodic blogs to share some of the insights that have come from our consults. One of our earlier blogs covered how to do the market research to prepare for creating a business plan. Once you have completed your market research, you are ready to develop your 1-Page Business Plan. Before you write your One-Page Business Plan, these are 6 top questions to answer and to include in your plan.
Defining your business
Question 1. Which products or services will you offer?
Before choosing a product or service to sell, ask yourself the following questions:
· What’s the most significant benefit my product/service can give my customers?
· What problems do my prospects have with my competitors, and how can I solve them?
This is where you include your USP for your product or service that you defined as part of your market research.
It’s not your products that interest people but the results they provide. Put your customers first and fulfill their needs with excellence, and your choice of product or service will become apparent.
Question 2. What’s your business model?
The late Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef, author, travel documentarian, once said: “A business model outlines how your company will turn a profit selling a product/service to a target audience within a specific marketplace.”
However, with so many new businesses models coming online every day, they’re constantly evolving, so no one size fits all. For example, traditional business models include brick-and-mortar stores, franchising, and direct sales.
Hybrid models combine internet sales with a physical location.
Your business model’s purpose is to ensure you’ll profit using the proper marketing channels and payment gateways for incoming revenue.
Question 3. What’s your competitive advantage?
“If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.” –Jack Welch, ex-CEO of General Electric.
A competitive advantage is your company’s ability to outperform your competitors in one or more ways. That is called a unique value proposition (UVP).
Your unique value proposition is the solution and benefit your USP provides. Your UVP’s an in-your-face marketing statement describing exactly how you’ll bring value to your audience, highlighting what makes you unique to the marketplace.
Ask these questions to find your answers:
Relevancy: How does your product or service solve your customers’ pain points or improve their situation?
Quantified value: In what way will you deliver those specific benefits?
Differentiation: Why should your ideal customer buy from you and not from your competition?
Question 4. Who’s your target market?
“Everyone is not your customer”. –Seth Godin, yep him again!
Your target market is the consumers who you’ve proven want what you’re selling.
By identifying your target market and their preferred marketing channels, you can define your marketing strategy around their needs – at the same time, highlighting your UVP to engage and connect with them at every opportunity.
You gain an understanding of your target market by creating a buyer persona. It’s a fictional character created using accurate research data that provides relevant information about your audience.
The aim is to identify a niche audience you’re confident your marketing will convert into paying customers.
Question 5. What marketing strategies will you use?
“Good marketing makes a company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart.” –Joe Chernov, ex-VP of marketing at HubSpot.
Now your goal is to define your marketing and sales strategy to maximize your ROI (return on investment) and create a highly optimized presence within your niche.
You define your marketing strategy by identifying the channel your target audience uses most to search for and buy your product.
You identify it by looking at your competitors’ websites and social media platforms, and by checking out third-party sales websites.
Question 6. How will you cover your costs and make a profit?
“Never take your eyes off cash flow because it’s the lifeblood of business.” –Richard Branson. Did you know most new businesses fail due to a lack of cash flow?
It’s critical to know your numbers and write up a financial summary (projected budget and sales goals) known as a pro forma statement. This financial summary can be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet.
Your cash flow is the net balance of cash moving in and out of your business at a specific point in time and the amount you need to keep your business running and staying afloat. And by maintaining a balance sheet, you keep your eyes on your cash flow.
Include these in your one-page business plan:
Forecasted expenditures and budget. Account for your setup costs, fixed costs, operating costs (products, shipping, utilities, rent, marketing, etc.), and what project sales are needed to generate your break-even point. Your break-even point is when your debit (expenses) equals your credit (sales / revenue). Also determine the quantity of products/services you’ll need to sell and at what price to surpass your break-even point and make a profit. Try to project at what point in the future your business will be able to make a profit.
Net profit. Your estimated end-of-tax-year profit after you’ve subtracted all your debits.
Answering these top 6 questions as input to writing your business plan is a simple yet effective approach to communicating your business, what it is and how you are going to make it successful.
Now you are ready to write your 1-Page Business Plan!