How to Build Your Business – The Building Phase
Welcome back to our mini-series on the four stages of building your own business! This month, we’re unpacking the second stage: building.
Now that you’ve got your great idea, tested it out and determined that it’s viable — it’s time to start planning! A plan begins as a simple set of ideas and becomes more complex as the business takes shape. There are two things to focus on in this phase: your strategy and your operating plan.
Start it with Strategy
A strategic plan for your business is all about high-level thinking and generally looks at the first — or the next — three to five years. Knowing where you’re going will keep your company proactive instead of reacting to obstacles and forces outside your control. You can’t prepare for all mishaps, but with a plan in place, you can strategically move to reach your objectives and goals!
The first step is research. I know, it sounds boring — but it’s actually really exciting! Determine your target customers, and spend some time learning about their wants, needs and attitudes. How does your product or service help them? What will their attitude be toward your solution? Where do they live, work, and hang out both online and in the world? Other topics to research:
- Your industry
- Target market
- Existing customer base
Remember, everyone can’t be your audience. Of course, you want everyone to support your business, but your products or service will always attract a certain demographic. For example, an ice cream truck wants everyone to buy their treats, but they might set up camp outside of an outdoor park, knowing families will stop on their way home! You can always narrow down your audience.
Use your research to inform a SWOT analysis and help you determine potential strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats/risks. When it comes time to create your goals and objectives — don’t forget to make them SMART. That is: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time based! A goal is just a dream until you put a date on it.
Open with Operation
Your operating plan is a combination of plans (operations, company timelines, financing, marketing, sales, etc.). Begin with your strategy, and then break down what needs to be done to accomplish or achieve your objectives.
Include information on:
- Production workflow: a high-level description of how your product or service are made or performed. Follow with a subsection describing the risks and potential problems, as well as how you can mitigate the chances of those problems occurring.
- Supply chain: an explanation of who your suppliers are and their prices, terms and conditions. Don’t forget to include plans for how you’ll move forward if a supplier should fall through!
- Quality control: measures you’ll take to ensure your product or service always meets your customers standards.
- Your operations plan should also answer: who are the individuals responsible for tasks? What are the hard costs to complete each objective?
Things are beginning to feel a little more real now, aren’t they? We’ll cover the next stage in next month’s blog. Until then, avail yourself of our amazing makers directory for inspiration!