Evaluating Your Idea
Every great business begins with a plan. And while that plan will evolve over time, it is important to have a solid foundation to help guide you through your business development process. Think of your business plan is your roadmap for the success of your business.
Before you began your business plan, it’s good practice to evaluate your business idea. This exercise will help you drill down some details about your business idea that may be overdeveloped, or perhaps underdeveloped. It will help you:
- Explain the product/services you will offer.
- Identify your competition.
- Pinpoint what makes your business different or superior to others.
- Define your target market.
- Describe how you will reach your customers.
- And much more!
When you evaluate your business idea, you may find gaps in your model that need to be addressed. This exercise gives you the opportunity to fill those gaps, as well as strategize scenarios for additional products/services you may offer, marketing your product/service and future growth of your business.
Many of the concepts discussed in your analysis can be used verbatim when crafting your business plan.
Building a Business Plan
There are many templates available to help you craft your business plan, and depending on the business each of them will vary. According to the Missouri Department of Economic Development’s publication, “Starting a New Business in Missouri,” a business plan will generally include:
1) Executive Summary (write this part last)
2) Name of Company
3) Owner or Owner-to-be
4) Information on the business
- Type of Business and Product or Service
- Inventory, supplies, Suppliers and Equipment
- Future Plans
5) Market Analysis
- Customers/Clients (your Target Market)
- Competitive Advantages and Disadvantages
6) Market Strategy
- Sales Strategy
- Promotions/Advertising strategy
- Sources and Uses of Funds
- Financial statements (i.e. balance sheet, income statement, cash flow, etc.)
There is abundant information and examples of business plans on the internet. Other great sources are the Small Business Administration and Missouri Business Development Program, which also has a guide to writing a plan.
The Small Business Administration
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a robust source of information that can help you start, manage, and grow your business. The SBA’s Business Plan Tool provides you with a step-by-step guide to help you get started. All of your information entered into this tool is 100% secure and can only be viewed by accessing your account using the password you have specified.