You’ve been mulling over an idea for a new start-up and you’re ready to put it down on paper as a business plan. At Community Futures Manitoba, we couldn’t be more excited for you! Before picking up that pen, though, take a few minutes to consider the following nine questions that can prepare you for success when writing your business plan.
After giving some careful consideration to these questions, we’d encourage you to use our helpful and free Business Plan Workbook to create a roadmap for your company—and don’t forget to share your innovative ideas with us!
- Why do I want to start a business?
The “why” behind your business is one of the most important things to consider when first brainstorming and building your venture.While it is easy to get caught up in the hype and stardom that sometimes surrounds entrepreneurship (who doesn’t want to be the next Richard Branson?), those fuzzy feelings won’t sustain most small business owners in the long run. The most successful businesses are ones that arise from a deep sense of personal purpose, fulfillment, or enjoyment, such as mastering a craft or addressing a need within the community.
Define your vision before setting pen to paper for your business plan. This will ensure that you’re launching a business for the right reasons, and serve as a future reminder about why you started down the path toward entrepreneurship in the first place.
- Does this business align with my values?
Consider this part B to the question above. Does your business idea—and entrepreneurship in general—match up with your core values? For instance, let’s say that your number one priority is spending time with your children because family is at the top of your values list. If you’re planning to open a restaurant that would require you to spend long hours away from home, it is important to assess how you plan to reconcile those two conflicting priorities.
- What are my greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Reach out to half a dozen friends and ask:
- What are my biggest strengths? What am I better at than other people?
- What are my greatest weaknesses or areas for improvement?
It may sound silly but external feedback can offer invaluable insights on your strengths and weaknesses, while additionally identifying potential wins and problem areas for your business in the future.
- How can I build upon my strengths and address my weaknesses?
For example: If after completing the exercise in the question above, your friends consistently say that you excel at seeing the big picture but struggle with paying attention to details, you can make an effort to focus more closely on project details or hire a team member who is very detail-oriented.
- Have I spoken to other professionals, experts, or mentors?
Although starting a business is a very personal decision, it’s never a bad idea to learn from people who are further along the journey that you are considering. Reach out to experts in your niche, successful businesspeople in your community, and personal or professional mentors to talk about your idea. Their advice and discussion can be invaluable, especially when it comes to avoiding mistakes that cost them substantial time or money.
Your regional Community Futures officeis also a great resource for business advice. Get in touch with your local team today!
- Am I willing to seek out and accept constructive criticism?
In the succinct words of Mark Forrester, Co-Founder of WooThemes, “Grow a thick skin and be prepared to take criticism.”
When you dedicate yourself to building a company and releasing it into the world, it is easy to internalize feedback like a personal attack. However, the fastest way for entrepreneurs to grow and to create businesses that best serves customers is to find out what isn’t working—fast. Are you willing to develop a thick skin and view criticism as a learning opportunity?
- Am I prepared for things to deviate from plan?
Even the best-laid plans go awry. Staying flexible and adapting your plan in real-time is a must!
Tip: If you end up needing external financing to make your dream a reality, consider talking to Community Futures about applying for a small business loan. We offer several types of options tailored to meeting the needs of rural and remote small business owners.
- Do I have a strong support system?
You don’t have to go it alone! A supportive group of family, friends, and professional connections can make the difference between failure and success—not to mention just making your entrepreneur journey (and life) more enjoyable, ea. Share your idea with friends and colleagues to get them on board, and don’t forget that Community Futures is here as a sounding board and resource!
- Am I willing to put in the time?
Writing a thorough business plan takes a significant amount of time because it provides the foundation for every aspect of your company, from targeting the right customers to marketing. Are you prepared to put in the time to develop a great business plan, and most importantly, build a company over the course of weeks, months, and years?
If the answer is yes, download our free Business Plan Workbook now!
Looking for some additional inspiration? Be sure to check out our latest resource!
Then, get in touch with your regional Community Futures office to chat about your plan, discuss financing options, and receive more free business advice!