Over 5 million small businesses were started in 2022; what’s keeping you from starting yours? The truth is, with a creative or innovative idea and a solid business plan, you can secure funding from lenders, investors, grants or crowdfunding to start and grow your business. Even if your budget is as thin as your wallet, this can be the right time to get started on the best idea of your life. Let’s talk about putting some steps in place to create your success. 

Step 1:  Think About the “Why” Behind Your Business.

If you believe your product or service will meet the need or the “want” of a consumer, you are on the right track. Now, think about why you want to embark on this exciting, challenging journey of starting your own business. Maybe you want to create financial freedom, or become your own boss; maybe your desire is to create a family-run venture, or build a business around a long-held secret to a technical application. Whatever the “why” behind your business, write it out. Create the first page of your business plan with this statement. Follow that with the objectives or goals for your business. This doesn’t need to be complex to be complete; 4 to 5 objectives will be sufficient to place your roadmap into action. 

Step 2:  Add to Your Business Plan. 

In Step 1, you created the beginning of your business plan, including your mission and objectives for starting your business. In the following steps, you’ll work on completing the plan. If you don’t have a current template, use this professional business plan template as your comprehensive guide. Your completed business plan will help open the doors to the funding you’ll need for the startup; let’s move on to get this plan in motion. 

Step 3:  Assess your Audience.

A winning business idea has to be accompanied by customers who will want and pay for the services or products of your business. Do you know who your customers might be or where they live? Do they have a “want” or a “need” to purchase services or products from your business? Will the customers of your business have anything in common? Creating a demographic customer will assist in deciding how to market your products or services to them. Write out this portion of your business plan. 

Step 4:  Research your Competitors. 

Is there any competition for your services or products? If not, you are in a great position! If so, determine what those competitors offer and how they successfully market their products or services to entice customers to purchase. Do any of your competitors offer a unique or special value? If there is a crowded competitor field in the industry of your new business, in convenience stores, for example, you will need to consider how to offer a distinctive element in your business that makes your offers more compelling than those of your competitors. Write out your competitors, demographic factors, and pricing models, and add to your business plan. 

Step 5: Creating a Financial Plan and Forecast. 

Even if you aren’t “great” with finances, a simple worksheet will suffice to describe the funding needed and prepare to tell your story to investors and lenders. If you need help, ask an accountant to make calculations and provide assistance along the way; it’s the best way to ensure accuracy across the board and that is exactly what the investors and lenders will be searching for in their interest levels. 

Step 6:  Set your Marketing Strategies. 

According to Tech brighter even if your marketing budget is exactly zero, there are multiple opportunities to market your products or services. First, consider using the “word of mouth” technique, which basically means telling people about your product or service and asking them to buy it. A word of warning: if you have innovated a product, do not show it or exhibit it until it is patented. Contact the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to learn how to patent your product. 

As good as word of mouth marketing is, you’ll want to develop marketing strategies that create larger markets of viable buyers. Consider joining associations, attending trade shows or meetings to meet as many potential buyers or collaborators as possible. There are multiple opportunities to expand your business at larger events and shows. 

After combining all of the sections of your business plan, you’ll be ready to present it to interested lenders, investors and banks. Even if you’re starting your business on a shoestring, you’ve set your roadmap into place and have prepared your business for long-term growth and success.