Starting a new business, even with what seems to be a simple business concept is still a very challenging process for an early stage entrepreneur. It is very helpful for the entrepreneur to develop an understanding of the major actions required to complete the process and start the planning for the business in advance, rather than learning by making costly miss-steps. There is a fairly logical order to the planning and learning process. It can be enhanced when an experienced SCORE Mentor is utilized to offer tips and guidance as the three phases are understood and executed. Here’s one approach to this complex planning process.
Phase I - Start with Research
A new business always starts with an Idea about products or services you want to sell. However, the test isn’t whether you have an Idea, it’s whether the Idea can be competitive in the current marketplace. So, this first phase requires sufficient research to achieve two goals; (1) indications that the Idea can be competitive in the target market, and (2) you can write a one page description of your Business Concept.
The Business Concept generally indicates the preliminary view of:
- What you expect to sell,
- Who you think are your best customers,
- Why these customers are likely to buy from you, and
- How you will advertise and close sales.
If you are satisfied that this document describes a promising competitive business opportunity, and that you have the knowledge and resources to implement the business by including some supporting evidence. then it is time to develop a business plan.
Phase II - Develop a Business Plan
A Business Plan is a much more rigorous analysis and documentation of the twelve elements required in every business plan. This analysis further defines the preliminary conclusions in the Phase I research materials. Houston.SCORE.org has available a free Easy Business Plan download on their website @https://houston.score.org/content/browse-library-240. Workshops are also available using these materials.
The test of whether this is a viable business opportunity is indicated if:
- The financial projections meet the entrepreneur’s goals, and
- Sufficient funding exists to implement and sustain the business concept.
If the business plan results are satisfactory, then it is time to develop an Implementation Plan.
Phase III - Develop an Implementation Plan
The Implementation Plan lays out the actions required to open the doors for business. These actions are posted on a schedule that matches the resources available.