The first in a series looking at starting  your ‘Good Business’ and what you need to consider.

Step 1: How to Write a ‘Good Business’ Plan

So you’ve decided to take the leap and start your own good business. Congratulations! In this series of articles we’re going to walk through 8 steps you can take to help you move confidently through the world of commerce. Step 1 is your all-important business plan. Don’t panic, it’s not as complicated as it sounds.

The difference between Business and ‘Good Business’

In the world of ethical business, real success goes beyond just making money. It’s about how your business affects your team, customers, local and global communities, and the environment.

Whether you run a charity, a small business, or a bigger company, each business can find its own way to do “good business”. Choosing to run a business with meaningful values means you’re committed to making a positive impact on both people and the planet.

Why You Need a ‘Good Business’ Plan

Having a well-structured plan is akin to possessing a reliable compass – it guides you through the maze of challenges and opportunities. As a Good Business owner, you’ll want to remain focused on the positive impact you wish to make. It will help you identify your vision and objectives, guide your strategic direction, help you plan for resources and mitigate risks, and allow you to analyse progress and plan for the future. In this article, we’ll delve into the essential components of a business plan, breaking down the process into manageable steps.

In the process of crafting your good business plan, you’re essentially honing the focus of your business and establishing a solid starting point for the journey ahead.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is your business plan’s snapshot, providing a quick overview of your venture. This section encapsulates the core elements of your business – mission, unique proposition, and financial summary. Keep it concise and engaging, offering a glimpse of what makes your business stand out.

Business Summary

The business summary section in a business plan is a comprehensive overview of the key elements that define your good business. It serves as a snapshot of your venture, providing readers with a quick understanding of what your business is all about and the meaningful impact you wish to make. This section typically includes several crucial components:

Mission Statement

A succinct statement that outlines the meaningful purpose and reason for your business’s existence. It encapsulates the core values, goals, and guiding principles that drive your company.

Unique Proposition

Also known as a Unique Selling Proposition (USP), this highlights what sets your value-led business apart from your competitors. It could be a distinctive feature of your product or service, or a unique approach to customer service.

Financial Summary

A brief overview of your financial standing, including key financial metrics. This might include your current financial position, revenue projections, and any notable financial achievements.

Background

Why do you want to run your own good business?

Whether it’s a passion for your product or service, a desire to make a difference, or a vision to bring something new to the market, express your driving force. This not only adds a personal touch to your business plan but also helps others connect with your purposeful mission.

Your Core Competencies

Distinguish yourself from the competition by highlighting the skills and strengths that position you as a leader. It could be a unique set of technical skills, a deep understanding of your eco-conscious target market, or a proven track record in a specific area.

Your Qualifications & Training

Establish your credibility by outlining your qualifications and training. This could include formal education, relevant certifications, and any specialised training.

Your Hobbies & Interests

While this may seem personal, your hobbies and interests can provide valuable insights into your character and work ethic. This adds a human touch to your business plan, making you more relatable to your audience.

Product or Service

Describe your offerings in detail. What sets your purpose-led products or services apart? Explain how they meet the needs of your conscious audience. This section lays the foundation for your marketing strategy and helps potential customers understand what makes your business special.

The Market

Know your audience inside out. Identify your target demographic, their locations, and the factors influencing their buying decisions. Conscious consumers make value-led buying decisions; understanding their ethics and shopping habits will help you design a business plan that both reflects your shared morals and meets their practical needs. Conduct a comprehensive environment scan, assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (look up: SWOT analysis) in your industry. Clearly outline your business objectives and acknowledge potential obstacles.

Competitor Analysis

List your competitors, detailing their names, locations, and the products or services they offer. Analyse their pricing strategies, strengths, and weaknesses. Take a deep dive into how they connect with their audience, examining how they communicate their purpose-led values and commitment to meaningful impact. This information will be invaluable in positioning your business strategically within the market.

Operations & Logistics

Navigate the practical aspects of running your business. Address production, delivery, payment processes, and supplier relationships. Clarify your premises, equipment needs, legal requirements, and insurance coverage. Also, outline your staffing requirements, ensuring that you have the right team to support your business operations.

This is the perfect opportunity to infuse purposeful decision-making into the running of your business. Something as simple as everyday admin can have a meaningful impact, not only on your operations, but the planet too. Research ethical banks and insurance companies, work with local suppliers, and forge relationships with like-minded businesses that share your values. Before you commit to buying a new piece of equipment, search for suitable secondhand alternatives, or put a plan in place for recycling.

Costs & Pricing Strategy

Transparently lay out your pricing strategy and create a comprehensive price list. Detail your outgoing costs and monthly budget, ensuring a realistic projection of your cash flow. Develop a financial forecast that considers various scenarios, providing a solid foundation for informed decision-making.

#designtip – Yearly Review

My original business plan contained all of the above. Overtime, some sections grew, others shrunk, and some were transferred to different documents. The beauty of my current plan lies in its brevity – it spans just one side of A4, resembling more of a targeted Marketing Plan. Yearly reviews are a ritual as my business evolves; they play a crucial role in maintaining a consistent core message that resonates seamlessly across my website, social media channels, and networking efforts.

In wrapping up your good business plan, reaffirm your commitment to adapting and evolving with the changing business landscape. A well-maintained plan, even if it’s as concise as a single side of A4, is a dynamic tool designed to lead your business towards meaningful impact. Regularly revisit and update your plan to maintain consistent core messaging across your website, social media, and networking efforts.

Remember, a well-crafted business plan not only attracts potential investors but will steer you towards success.

Coming soon is Step 2: ‘Choosing your Business Name’. Stay posted!

 

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Cover photo by Kyle Hinkson on Unsplash