Why you need a Business Plan
You started a business so you could work from home around your family. It took a few months to get off the ground and then all the sudden you realized it was growing and you had no vision. What do you do?
A One Page Business Plan is a simple, easy to complete view of your business. It covers where you are at this moment and where you will be going in the near future.
It is not an exhaustive overview of everything that will happen in the next five years, or every competitor in your niche. You don’t have to spend five months creating spreadsheets and bar graphs. This page can be completed in an afternoon or a weekend at the most.
You should take the time to create a business plan like this so that you are focused on what is the best way to grow your small scale business. It will help you focus on the best way to market, who to market to and where you should spend your time going forward.
Why only one page?
When I was starting my granola business it was pretty casual for the first year. Once it became clear that I was growing into a “real” business I figured I needed a business plan. Doing some research online I quickly became overwhelmed with the scope of a traditional business plan.
How the heck was I supposed to know what my projected earnings for the next five years would be? What IS a pivot table? It all seemed so overwhelming!
As a small scale business there is no need to do all those projections and tables. You aren’t dealing with millions of dollars, or hundred of thousands of customers. You might have a marketing budget of only $100 for the year!
So one page is all you really need. Enough to find focus and have some next steps to grow your business. But not so overwhelming that you never finish writing.
How to write a One Page Business Plan
This is one of those project where it is important to find a few hours to sit down and focus on your task. Leave the kids home with your husband and hunker down in a local coffee shop (like I am doing right this second!) and put pen to paper.
Writing longhand is helpful for focusing your mind. I like to have some scratch paper nearby and use a special pen. It feels like a enjoyable task when you have the right tools.
I have included the opportunity to download a One Page Business Plan template at the end of this post. You can print it out and use it to make your notes or fill it out with your final answers.
If you don’t have all the answers the first time you sit down do some research. You don’t have to have all the information at your fingertips. Sometimes you need to sit and think for a while, or get online and find some answers.
Start with identifying the problem that your business will solve. Write about the problem in depth with lots of detail as to why it is a problem and how the problem is created.
Let’s say I crochet winter hats. My problem section might look like this:
People who live in cold climates need to protect their heads from the cold and wind. You lose a majority of your body heat through your head. People of all ages suffer from cold heads throughout the entire winter.
Next write about how your product provides a solution to the problem. What is it that you provide to your customer? How does that help them overcome the problem they were having.
If I continue with the hat example:
My hats will provide a thick, warm covering for your head. They will be made with 100% wool and felted so that they are water and wind resistant. The hats will be in multiple sizes to fit a variety of people.
How you will make money is an important consideration. Where will you sell your hats? How will you price them? What kinds of business and material costs will you have?
I will purchase my yarn at $5 per skein and use one skein per hat. My business website will cost $14.99 a month. I will use only free forms of advertising in the first year such as a Facebook page and word of mouth. My budget will include $10 each week to set up a table at my local Farmer’s Market.
I will sell my hats on my website, Facebook Sale Groups, and my local Farmer’s Market. Each hat takes two hours to make and my time is worth $12 per hour. The cost per hat with time and materials is $29. I will sell adult hats for $38 and children’s hats at $32 (they take about half the amount of yarn.)
You might need to do some online research for this section. Take a look at Etsy, local Facebook groups, small businesses your friends like, etc. Who is your competition? Will you be making a product that is similar to anyone else in your local area? Or is there someone on Etsy with the same niche? How will you make your product different?
My hats will be made with 100% wool in bright colors. They will be felted giving them a different look than my direct competition.
In my local area there is one other woman who makes hats for sale. She makes hats out of felt and sells children’s styles. Her prices are roughly the sames as mine.
Online I have found three other stores selling felted hats on Etsy. All of them sell for about $10 more than mine and none of them use bright colors. They all sell only adult sizes.
In the NH Crafty Moms group on Facebook there are two crafters selling hats. One makes chenille hats for women for $25 and the other makes acrylic character hats for children for $25-29.
An important consideration is that your customer might be different than the user of your product. Especially if you make a child’s product, you need to appeal to both that child and their parent who will actually purchase the product.
This section is where you should describe your ideal customer. Who are they? Do they have a family? Where do they live or work? What do they do for fun? How will they use your product?
My customer is moms who want to provide warm, stylish winter hats for their entire family. They live in the rural parts of NH and like to go skiing and snowshoeing. They work part time and spend time on Facebook everyday.
How will your customers find your product? Where will you sell your product? Will you spend money to advertise?
I will find them by displaying my hats at the local Farmer’s Market and asking customers to spread the word. I will post in Facebook sales groups and link to my website so people can buy. My hats will include a small tag with my business name on the back of each hat to increase name recognition.
This is my favorite part. Think about where you want your business to be in six months to a year. How will you get to that place? Think about what next steps you can take to get to those goals and write them down! Writing down your goals is a great first step in reaching them but remember to check back in on a regular basis. Do you need to make an adjustment? Have you reached your goal and need to set some new ones?
1. Sell hats wholesale by November. I will learn about selling my hats in retail stores and how to price for wholesale.
2. Make more hats for men. I will work on one new style that will appeal more to men.
3. Prepare for the busy holiday season. I will make three hats every week in order to be ready for the fall and winter.
That’s it! Not so hard once you break it down, but so worth it for the growth of your business.
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