“I have an idea for a business…”
You’ve probably heard this countless times, possibly even said it yourself a few times. Whether you’re a employee wanting to be self-employed or a business owner seeking to expand to new venture, you occasionally have business ideas run through your head.
That’s great, but ideas are cheap and easy to come by. What’s really important to move a business from a dream to a reality is a solid plan. Ideas are ethereal, changing at a whim, leaving you in a daydream state; plans take solid form, moving you into the real world.
Here are six questions to answer to start turning your business idea into a business plan.
Do you really want to do it? It’s your idea, and it sounds great, but if it suddenly became a reality, is the business something you’d want to do? This is a simple but very important question to answer before taking any more steps.
What is the business exactly? Ideas are often vague, especially if it is a service-oriented business, which leads to vague concepts like, “I want to help people who are disorganized.” So are you a management specialist, a maid service or a consultant? Be definite in what you want.
Is there a need for your idea? Creating wheelchairs for arthritic fish may sound like a great idea, but who, really, will buy this? On the other hand, need itself doesn’t always drive the market. In the 1970s someone made a lot of money selling pet rocks.
Who is your target customer? It’s important to know who you think will buy the product so you can tailor your plan to your optimal customers. Is your idea best suited for business leaders or housewives, senior citizens or pre-schoolers, the overweight or the physically fit? Don’t kid yourself into thinking everyone will want this. Pick a target.
Do you know enough? If your idea is to build shelters for homeless pets, but you’re not sure which end of a hammer to hold, you you’ll need to educate yourself. Thanks to the internet, you can find information on how to do almost anything. There are also many college classes online that can further your knowledge base.
Where’s the money coming from? Starting a business usually involves more than heading to the local office supply store for a calculator and some sticky notes. It requires upfront money, sometimes quite a bit. Figure out how much you’ll need to start up then consider the sources where you’ll obtain it.
Once you’ve answered those questions, you can start writing a business plan. There are many online resources to help put a solid plan down on paper.