New business guide: Part 2 – Crafting a business plan
The 5 Ws
It is time to do the 5 Ws. WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHY, WHEN. Who are your customers? What will you be selling to them? Where will you be selling? Why are you selling it to them? When will you get the product to them? You are not done when you answered those questions, you will have to repeat the process over and over until you have answered every question you can think of. The more thorough you are now, the better.
A lot of mistakes can be made because of poor planning. If you cannot find a true demand for your product or service, ask yourself, is it worth it? As great as your idea is, you will need people to buy into it.
Time for market research
Market research involves examining your field and demographics of potential customer basis. Standard ways to achieve this is by conducting surveys, focus groups, SEO, SEM, and using public data.
Market research helps you understand your customer, their wants, their shopping habits, their brand loyalty. Do not forget to examine your competitors carefully. Begin by gathering demographic information, use this data to conduct a competitive analysis to better understand opportunities and limitations within your market. If your local market does not satisfy the requirements of your needs, you may have to expand or focus on another market.
You will need to stand out from the competition, now is the time to firmly establish what will set you apart from them. Faster service, lower prices, even having free returns are all an edge that can put you ahead of the curve.
Do I need an exit strategy?
For everyone, retirement is the only planned time to exit. However, reality is far more complicated than that. Be honest with yourself, what will you do if you fail? What will you do if the cost of doing business is too high? Examine all your concerns and weigh them fully. If you have the option to sell your business for profit, do you take it? These are all questions you need to ask yourself before you begin, to ensure you are not surprised when something does come up. In the end, trust your own judgement. If you think you can succeed, go for it.
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