1. What is your mission?

As my grandfather used to tell me, it’s a good idea to know who you want to become in life if you want to know where you are going. This applies to your new business venture as well. A mission for your business defines your purpose and how your business will impact society in the future. It serves as a North Star, or guidepost, that keeps your organization consistently pointed toward a specific destination—especially when the path deviates from what you expected and you’re faced with a decision about which path to take. Clearly and concisely defining where you are going will help you choose the right path for your business.

2. What is your business model?

While the true meaning of what your business stands for will come from your heart, a good business plan needs to include a business description that describes what you do and what it will involve. Think of it as defining the five W’s for your business: Who, What, When, Where and Why . It should include details about your business model, how you’ll be structured, when you plan on hiring employees or opening your doors, and where those doors will be located. Being able to answer these types of questions is vital to the success of your new business, as well as for writing a solid business plan.

3. What is your target market?

Often times, new business owner will miss this one entirely. If you haven’t done so already, you will want to do some research into your market to determine the size and type of opportunities your business can take advantage of. What kinds of people or businesses will likely purchase your products or services? It’s important to narrow this down as much as possible, while keeping in mind the broader spectrum of opportunities in your market.

You may also want to consider some of the following questions:

  • Who will benefit from the products or services you are offering?
  • How will you reach them to tell let them know your offer?
  • Where can they purchase your products or services?

4. What is your operations plan?

This is the nitty-gritty of how your business will function. Whether you are selling products or services, you will need to think these things through. Regardless of the type of business you’re starting, there are a common set of questions all new business owners need to address and communicate to others in order to run a successful business. For example:

  • Where will your business be located? What are your hours of operation?
  • Where will you buy the products you need? How much inventory should you plan for?
  • Who will work for you? How will you pay them?
  • What are your legal needs (insurance, legal paperwork, etc.)? How will you backup records?
Make sure to think through as many of the details of your operations plan as possible before you launch your business.

5. What is your financial plan?

Even if you plan on hiring an accountant, every business plan should include a solid financial plan with the proper documentation. This includes a well-researched estimate of the startup costs for your business, as well as a realistic idea of how much your business will bring in and where it will come from. These projections help you prepare financially for your operations and help set out a path toward profitability that can help you gauge if you’re on track or not. Other financial documents worth considering include monthly cash flow projections, a break-even analysis, projected profit and loss statements, and balance sheets.

A business plan is essential to creating and maintaining a profitable business. Taking the time to answer these five questions can mean the difference between success or failure. While anyone can start a business, those that are successful at it tend to be informed, dedicated and goal-oriented individuals who know exactly where they are going. While writing a plan may seem like a daunting task, Seattle Web Solutions has been helping people get the best start in their business ventures—and we can help you too. We know what it takes and can help you define a roadmap that sets you on the road toward business success.

Do you have questions about your new business? Send us an e-mail or give us a call. We’d love to learn more about you and your aspirations for your business.

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