(In Plain English)
One never really knows what’s next. But I believe it’s possible to dream, imagine and plan for the ideal. When you prepare a typical business plan, that’s an attempt to “visualize” in words and numbers what you are going to do and what’s going to happen as a consequence. For example: “I’m going to make and sell an herbal balm; people are going to buy them, and in 1 year I’ll have made enough money to support my family and pay back any loans.”
That’s the bones of a business plan.
Top Five Strategies for Starting a Business
- Visualize: When you prepare a typical business plan, “visualize” in words and numbers what you are going to do and what’s going to happen as a consequence. Visualization is an important tool-perhaps it’s the most important tool-toward creating a successful business. It does not guarantee success, but I believe it can lead to success.
- Get Advice: Generally speaking, if you are starting really small, I’d suggest that you be very careful about interpreting advice from experts. Some of them tend to be emphatically sure of the right way to do things. On the other hand, it’s fun to show or explain your idea to a little kid…they usually have a very helpful response. Maybe combine the two.
- Raise Money: Start with your friends and family. I showed friends and family a beautiful wooden box of Badger Balms. They liked what they saw (a lot!) and they loaned me money. Badger is successful because of the support and generosity of family and friends. And, I need to acknowledge the role that powerful “invisible forces” play when you set out to complete a task.
- Roll with the Ups and Downs: You can do everything right and fail. You can do almost everything wrong and succeed. The trick is to get a few pivotal things right…if only you could figure out what the critical elements are. Understand your weaknesses and strengths and find a way to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.
- Start Small: I’m now a big fan of starting small. I didn’t have a written Business Plan when I started, but I had worked out packaging, what I was going to sell the balms for, where I was going to get the tins, and how I would fill them. I didn’t know where the money was going to come from and I didn’t even know that I would need as much money as I eventually did need in the first year! I probably would not have dived in if I had known the truth! I was lucky to be able to borrow from friends each time I ran out of money the first year! I was so clueless.
Following are my suggested steps to create your “Business Plan in Brief.” I’ve done these every year for 16 years and even the bankers love them. Keep it simple. Get to the point. Identify what’s important and significant and minimize the rest. This enables you to gather the resources you need and take the proper path to achieve your goals. In my version of a business plan, you also factor in your mental, physical and spiritual ideal for yourself and your loved ones as you follow this business path.
- Write your business story: Write a story of what things will look like in your business five years down the road if everything has worked perfectly and you are in great success. You could dictate this to a recorder or tell this story to a friend while recording if you don’t like to write.
- Determine your financial plan: If you are not good with math and accounting, find someone who is to help you work this out. Ask yourself:
- How much money do I need to earn per year for this to be a viable business?
- How much will it cost to make each item
- How much will I sell each item for (or what will I bill per hour if it’s a service business)?
- Fill in the details of your business: Ask yourself:
- What’s my packaging going to look like?
- How and I going to fill and label my product? Will I need help
- Did I include enough time and money in my estimate of labor?
- Accept the Unknowns: Regardless of great planning, adequate resources and impeccable execution, the unknown can and probably will happen. So, an important part of any business is being prepared to respond in a kind, positive and effective way when things change.
- The value of starting small: I love this path. You can do a mini micro business and you sell to friends. You learn what they like and what they don’t. You figure things out on a small, minimal risk stage. When you have a handle on it you go a bit bigger. Maybe you find a non-friend customer or a store to sell your wares. Build your business brick by brick.
Then, write your business plan or revise an existing one. Now, you have a clue. You’d be amazed how much you will learn by actually starting your fledgling business!
For the full transcript of Bill’s presentation and his story about the founding of Badger Balm, Click Here: Badger Business Development Class Part I.