James Douglas Burbank

James D. Burbank has been in marketing for more than a decade. He has worked in traditional as well as online marketing and he has seen it all. He is also a huge Utah Jazz fan.

James Douglas Burbank has written 12 articles for SB Informer.
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How to Craft a Business Plan for Your SMB

Draw up the perfect SMB business plan

James Douglas Burbank

November 08, 2017

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Each and everysmall businessis faced with a unique set of challenges: How to Come out of obscurity, attract investors and customers, and achieve long-term growth. Well, a business plan is the cornerstone of these efforts. It will help you gain a sense of direction necessary for navigating the labyrinth of daily decision-making. So, here is how you can put together a professional and comprehensive document, and get your operations off the ground.

Translating ideas into reality

Conducting thorough market research is the first thing you need to do. In order to fully understand the business environment you operate in, perform a competitor analysis as well. Use acquired insights to define how you plan to access the market and anticipate your progress. Beyond everything else, you need to figure out what will make you competitive. Is it the price, customer service, product quality, brand perception, or something else?

Next, regardless of initial specifics, familiarize yourself with the elements that constitute a business plan. Typically, it includes company departments, product/service, competition, market, marketing, operations, management, and finances. An executive summary calls for special attention, as it gives an overview of the entire plan, which comes at the beginning of the document. It should grab people’s attention right away and entice them to read on.

Numbers game

Note that it is of the utmost importance to create the plan with your target audience in mind and tailor it according to people’s expectations, wants, and needs. For example, a business plan does not only establish your goals, but it allows others, such as investors, to get familiar with them. It is an opportunity to communicate your future plans and secure the much-needed funding. Hence, always aim to come up with credible projections and realistic assumptions.

Explain why investing in your business is a good idea and present a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Always back up your assertions and claims with facts and figures. Feel free to include spreadsheets and charts to complement the text. Numbers are always tricky, so make sure you always get them right. To produce accurate sales predictions, you should create a cash flow and break-even chart.

In any event, make sure you rely on specific parameters. After all, a business plan must have tangible guidelines in the form of deadlines, the set of priorities, and specific responsibilities of team members. Once you sort that out, you will determine the amount of necessary funds for your operating costs. This is the only way to overcome the uncertainty and volatility of sales and expenses in the early stages of your startup.

The best of both worlds

Apart from the “real-world” market, try to develop a deeper understanding of the cyber world, which shapes your prospects. Namely, establishing an online presence is paramount forsmall businesses and especially startups. The internet offers equal chances for success to everyone, and you have an incredible chance to compete with big names in the business. A vast majority of users utilize search engines to find information and content and if your company does not pop up there, it is like it does not even exist.

Therefore, pick an SEO-friendly domain and outline tactics toimprove your search engine ranking.This will significantly boost your visibility in the digital world and allow you to spread brand awareness far and wide. Moreover, identify digital marketing strategies that will amplify your messages and ensure maximum reach. Set up a well-designed website, as well as a blog and social media profiles. It is the synergy between these assets is that driving force behind success.

Once you have it all in black and white, kick off a review process. It is highly recommended to seek independent review, so find someone who is not involved in your business. Finally, remember that a business plan is an ever-evolving document that reflects shifting realities out there. That is to say, it constantly needs to be fine-tuned and updated. Be flexible and recognize when you should get back to the drawing board.

A self-fulfilling prophecy of success

Writing a business plan is a vital requirement for anySMBowner. To do it right, you have to know not only the general essentials, but also the specifics related to your niche, industry sector, and available resources. Know your competition, audience, strengths, and weaknesses. Bear in mind that the document should be concise, but with attention to detail. Without it, you cannot hope to gain a foothold in the market, make a name for yourself, and survive and thrive in a crowded ecosystem. 


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