Running a business will need a continual plan. A start-up will require a business plan so that the bank will help with funding. This plan will also exist for driving the business forward by owners being able to check at every point that the business is staying on track to reach its first-year goals and every goal beyond that.
So, we will look to explore just what this long-term business plan should cover.
If a business is going to at least look like it is capable of making money then it will need to prove to investors and all concerned just where its markets are. This can be achieved through effective market research, for which you can check out Conjointly’s MaxDiff Tool or explore similar aids to study customer preferences, product design ranks, TURF analysis, and more. Moreover, research can be done in person or online, depending on your business range. It does not matter whether it is a high street shop or an online business because potential customers will likely be using both methods to make their purchases and to buy services.
Social media is an excellent way to gather the kinds of intelligence needed to plan a business in terms of the products that customers are buying and then telling their friends about. Looking at the websites of competitors will help you to see what the popular products and variations are as well as help with pricing. Also, look where your competitors are advertising their products or services. This will be where they think their markets are.
Advertising and Promotion
You will need some kind of plan as to how you are going to gain customers. That is new ones to start the business then replacement ones when some customers switch allegiance. Also, how do you gain more customers still to grow the business? There are two ways to show your presence. You can make interesting news so that you are promoted for free or look at targeting your adverts to those you have identified as your customers while researching your markets.
A website is a good basis for advertising because you can refer back to it in all other advertising. Once customers know about you it can be the place where you make announcements. Also, it can be where you sell products in addition to the other places where you have them for sale
Then it is no good having a website that cannot be found. Advertising your website is one way to give it more exposure. Another can be using digital marketing techniques such as SEO and PPC so that your website appears top in search results. The difference between these two approaches is that PPC means that a company is charged for every advert clicked on, whereas SEO is an organic approach. PPC results tend to appear ahead of SEO results but both mean that a company appears at the top of search results to be chosen above others as a company to deal with. The fact that a business appears ahead of others becomes an indicator in itself that it is the business to deal with. After all, naturally, a business viewed a lot of times would be expected to top search lists.
The Financial Side
We cannot, of course, ignore the numbers. We need to be able to provide to ourselves and others that we have a profitable business. A profit does not have to be shown straight away because starting a business costs money and that is, after all, why we might need funding from a financial institution. So, it is a useful and essential exercise to project your figures for 5 years, a minimum of 3, for yourself and financial institutions that can lend you money.
Budgets are important to have in the plan as they show cash flow. We need to know at any one time how much available cash there will be. To buy new stock, for example. Your employees will need desks and chairs (like those available at office monster) to perform their daily work. Companies will also have other inventory needs like laptops, stationery items, and so on. This will prove why we need a bank loan. It can, for example, be useful to cope with seasonal fluctuations. The interest rates of the loan will need to be factored into the budget and the rates of different lenders compared to get the best deal. Security may need to be offered to secure a loan. This can mean borrowing against a home. Owning your own home does make borrowing money easier.
Many businesses, however, will become limited companies to protect their homes so that if a business should go into liquidation, owners do not lose their assets. Either way, it is important to keep personal and business assets separate for accounting purposes.
To conclude, a good business plan should consider the markets a business is selling to, how best it can advertise itself, and have a budget with projections for the future worked out. With all these three taken into account, not only will a lender of money be happy that you have thought it through but your business can succeed from having a plan that will get it to where it deserves to be, given the work and long hours that you will be required to put in to ensure it.