Key steps for creating a business plan: A guide for entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are ambitious by nature. After all, it takes an ambitious person to be able to start and develop a business, organizing every aspect and ensuring that things run smoothly. As Martin Zwilling put it, “The challenge we all have as business founders is to move from the idea stage to a real business.”

That being said, it is definitely not something that can or should be managed alone. There are so many intricate details like legal, financing, sales and marketing, intellectual property protection, liability protection, human resources, etc. And with so many successful startups being born in the last decade, like Facebook, Whatsapp, and Uber, it’s no surprise that many young entrepreneurs are eager to turn their dreams into a reality.

The steps from conception to execution of a small business or startup can take a team. It might not necessarily be the physical team that first comes to mind. It could be a partner, a manager or it could come in the form of online support, education, access, and advice.

Starting a business is a huge commitment; it’s like a baby. And like a baby, a business needs to be fed, drains your accounts, and requires constant attention.

Your own business doesn’t just have to be a dream. By employing directed effort, motivation and OKR (more to come), it can be real. Here are a list of the challenges (so you know) and the steps (so you learn) what it takes to make for a successful business plan template.

Effort, Motivation and OKR

Two key aspects of getting a business off the ground are directed effort and motivation.

Directed effort describes the likelihood of something happening by focusing your energy towards it.

Motivation is the realization that acquiring this dream requires getting out of your comfort zone and staying there for a while. It’s easy to give up, which is where motivation steps in.

These aspects lead to a tool known as OKR – Objective and Key Result.

The objective is what you want to achieve. When you turn a dream into an objective, it begins to materialize. Essentially it is this directed effort that will make dream a reality thanks to tangible steps you now have to complete.

The key result is how you are going to achieve your goal. These should be easily measurable or have a due date. A study by professors Baumeister and Masicampo shows that to-do lists allow the brain to focus on outstanding tasks, making them more likely to be completed in a timely manner.

What are the challenges?

The challenges can be endless when trying to get a business off the ground. Here is a list of 11 common challenges entrepreneurs can face from Forbes.

  • Coming up with a great and unique product or service
  • Having a strong plan and vision for the business
  • Having sufficient capital and cash flow
  • Finding great employees
  • Firing bad employees quickly in a way that doesn’t result in legal liability
  • Working more than you expected
  • Not getting discouraged by rejections from customers
  • Managing your time efficiently
  • Maintaining a reasonable work/life balance
  • Knowing when to pivot your strategy
  • Maintaining the stamina to keep going even when it’s tough

Challenges can come in many shapes and sizes, but as an underestimated fish once said, “just keep swimming.”

The steps

Here are a few steps, tried and true from entrepreneurs as they too started with just an idea.

Write it down: With anything, this is usually the first step. Writing an idea down makes it real. Writing also allows us to finish our thoughts by completing the sentence, something we can rarely accomplish by just thinking about it. This will force you to firm up the specifics (they don’t actually have to be completed) Remember this is just the conception stage. One tip Zwilling also gives is, “Always write in the future tense, and name yourself as the key person responsible.”

Start a network plan: Soon after you develop your idea, funding will need to come to play. In fact, it is a key player when starting your own business. Unless you’ve been doing this for decades, chances are your pockets aren’t that deep. Make a list of people you know who might help and attend business events where you can pitch your business idea. You can also consult with business peers to learn what you need. Think about getting a partner or co-founder. There are also tons of new business support groups and local chapters of relevant industry associations to build mutually beneficial relationships.

Set-up dates: Pick a business start date, and work backwards to set out other to-do dates. Quantifying this dream will help you achieve your goals in smaller, accessible chunks.

Do something every day: Whether that something be big or small, by completing a task everyday you build this momentum. Momentum that demonstrates to you that things can and will be accomplished.

Narrow your focus to the key things daily: One of the biggest killers of small businesses is a lack of  focus as they try to attract more customers and/or fight the competition. The best businesses are the ones determined to do one thing well, rather than many things poorly. This sentiment is echoed in terms of launching your business. Build something great, but don’t take forever to launch it. You want to get ahead of the curb and not hold things back because of adjustment after adjustment.

Finally, remember there are so many ways to save money on the way to building your own business. Take a look at these 5 great money-saving tips for the eager entrepreneur.



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