Understand the 5 key elements of a business plan in a few minutes.
Starting a business can be exciting and overwhelming. Business growth can be quite unpredictable, and many things will change along the line.
Although this doesn’t take away the importance of planning, it is okay not to dwell too long on it and begin as soon as possible.
Find out five things you need to know before starting a business. Then, create an effective business strategy in a short time.
5 Key Elements of a Business Plan
Before you begin, I want to believe you already have an idea and you’ve taken the time to understand your product.
The exercise in this post will help you build on the knowledge you already have about your products or services. Then, frequently revisit your plan to implement changes as you grow and understand the market better.
These are 5 key elements of a business plan:
#1. Create a Value Proposition by Studying Your Competitors
The hard thing about starting a business is that you might not be the first. There’re competitors, bigger brands offering similar services or selling a better product. However, you can carve a niche and great value proposition by studying them. This process will let you create a competitive advantage.
How to go about:
- Pick a pen and paper. Write the names of your competitors.
- You can create a spreadsheet and write each brand’s name down the column.
- At the top of the rows, write shortcomings, strength, and missing elements
- This exercise can be messy, so don’t worry about what you come up with.
- Keep asking yourself questions about what the brands need to improve
- Visit their pages, websites or check their products
- The exercise will be easy if you’re familiar with the other brands’ products or services.
- What area/demography of the market are your competitors not attending to?
- At the end of the exercise, you should know what each brand isn’t doing right and how to improve.
- This is called market research in other business plans, but here, your focus is your competitors. We will consider other things as you continue reading.
- You might need to reach out to the specific customers or fans of each brand to understand their shortcomings
- You might need tools to understand their market. For instance, if they have a website, some SEO or blogging tools can help you understand your competitors here
#2. Understand Your Customers Or Target Market
Selling things to someone you know is easier than selling to a stranger. It all boils down to understanding needs. With a family or friends, you know a lot about them and can position your products effectively.
So, one of the key elements in a business plan is to understand your buyers deeply. Do that, and you can solve their challenges using the value proposition you create in the first step.
How to go about it:
- As usual, bring a paper and pen or a word doc
- Who is your ideal customer?
- Imagine their everyday life. What are the challenges they go through?
- Think about their frustrations. How does your product help?
You might need resources to understand their spending habits, buying triggers, and trends.
These are tools that can help:
- The Hubspot market report and statistics
- Google Trends help you understand search behaviors over the year, especially if you are setting up a website or social media page.
- You can also do keywords research to understand their search queries and what they are looking for in a product
#3. Differentiate Your Brand With Unique Features
People are already offering what you do. As a business owner, you need to think about what you bring to the market that isn’t there yet.
As an SEO content writer, I’ve been asked such questions: what do you do differently?. My response: I understand the principles of effective storytelling and Search Engine Optimization. In addition, I love planning because I started my career as an architect. So I know all the factors to consider and how to create a plan for long-term marketing success.
So, you need to find that powerful thing that differentiates you from other brands.
You’ve studied the others and learned about their weaknesses. Now it’s time to create what makes you different. It should be a study of 1) your (product’s) strength, 2) your competitor’s weakness, and 3) your customer’s pain point.
What makes you different?
#4. Plan For Expansion or Growth
One of the important key elements of a business plan is creating how your business will grow. Imagine 3 – 5 years down the line. What does your business look like?
How to go about it:
- Imagine the future of your business. What does it look like? Do you have more employers? Do you expand to other cities or industries?
- What do you think you need to get that future? Money? A bigger office space? Loyal customers? How will you acquire these things?
- If the number of clients or buyers increases, how will you handle it?
- Try not to get overwhelmed by answering all the questions at once.
- You can find more in-depth answers as your business grow.
5. Create an Aggressive Marketing Strategy
Finally, we arrive at the greatest of the key elements of a business plan: creating a marketing strategy. Except you’re a big brand and do not have any competitors, you need to work hard to create awareness.
There are many ways you can do it. Some of the marketing plans you can use include:
- Search Engine optimization.
- Search Engine Marketing
- Local SEO
- Small business SEO
- Ecommerce SEO
- Social media marketing
- Paid ads
- Content marketing
- Email Marketing
- Affiliate Marketing
Some businesses use all of the methods mentioned. For example, as an SEO content writer, I use content marketing and SEO combined. My social media is also active.
Depending on the size you are aiming for or the success you have, you might use many of the channels at some point.
- There are tons of ways to market yourself. You can combine a couple of them. Check out 9 affordable ways to market your product.
- You should have taken the time to do the other steps before you start marketing or advertising. You need the information from the market analysis in step one and all the other steps.
- Don’t overwhelm yourself with all the methods. Instead, hire someone if you have to. (You can send a message to me if you need an SEO strategy to increase your online visibility).
- There are many social marketing apps. Choose between 2 – 3 for a start and stay consistent.
- All social media works differently, so take the time to understand them before starting.
- Check other online marketing tips that can help your business grow.
Start Your Business Faster
The point of listing the key elements of a business plan in this post is to help you kick the ground running as soon as possible. It doesn’t necessarily mean you should launch a product immediately. However, you can start some pre-launching activities faster once you know what can take you from here (idea) to there (success).