After creating the business plan, the real challenge begins. Here’s the 9 step guide on starting and growing your business that will help you get your first customers and retain them.
Creating a business plan is an important step for an entrepreneur or business development executive. It not only marks the formal beginning of a project, but also charges you up to do more, simulate the challenges, execute the strategy and have the business up and running.
Having a bad plan is better than having no plan.
9 Steps for Entrepreneurs After Creating a Business Plan
As one goes about making a business plan, lots of ideas emerge in the mind of an entrepreneur that make him or her ready to execute their vision. Creating a business plan on paper or presentation means you have begun your entrepreneurial journey, and once begun is half done.
Also read: How to Create the Best Business Plan for Your Idea
So what’s next? While you may want to do everything at once, you may end up doing nothing. So let’s discuss how to prioritize your work and create your business step-by-step.
1. Work Out the Finer Details and Consider the Challenges
The first step right after creating the business plan would be to work out the finer details of the plan. You need to refine your plan and make it executable. Work on every detail, and make sure you define what the first steps are.
These details may be related to every aspect of your business plan, like scaling up and growth strategy, product design, marketing strategy, hiring plan, etc. The idea is to have clarity on how everything will be executed.
Like at the beginning of any sporting activity, you would feel rusty in the beginning, however, when you work out the finer details of your business plan, it will mentally prepare you to start your execution.
Having a plan helps you mentally simulate the different stages and challenges that you may encounter on your journey, and work on possible solutions for overcoming the same.
2. Create Small Executable Steps
Executing a business plan may seem like a daunting task in the beginning. In order to make it more manageable, you should break your project into smaller tasks, and further break them down into steps, and set deadlines for these, depending on your priorities.
This may vary according to your business. E.g. for setting up an eCommerce store, you may need to start making product samples, creating an inventory and product catalogue, creating your website, and setting up logistics.
3. Raise Capital from Friends & Family Before You Scout Venture Capitalists
A lot of people believe that you need to get funding from venture capitalists to execute a business idea. However, you should find a way to execute your business idea on a smaller scale with your personal funds. Since you have a business plan ready, also show it to your family and friends, take feedback and try to raise capital within your circle.
Having taken money from your friends and family also makes you more responsible, as you now have investors who believe in your plan, and your business needs to succeed to pay them back. A lot of businesses may not need big funding initially, so you shouldn’t be desperate to take on debt.
For most businesses, the angel investor is someone from their personal or professional circle. Research more about how to negotiate a funding agreement before you agree to the terms. Once you think you can generate good returns, you should raise more capital to scale up your business.
4. Prioritize Your Core Operations
Setting priorities is not an easy thing to do but it is crucial in business. If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. A good entrepreneur needs to understand how the business will deliver value to its customers, and what are the core business operations. If the core business operations are not strong, everything else will fail too.
Prioritizing tasks and communicating with your whole team helps your team members stay focused and aligned with the business plan. Prioritizing is something that comes with experience. Initially, you would try to consciously put high priority on every task, and gradually you will understand the benefits of prioritizing, and it will eventually turn you into a strategic thinker and decision-maker.
5. Plan Your Resources
As an entrepreneur you would always be scarce on resources, thus you need to use them wisely. Before you execute your plans, you will need to calculate the resources you would need in terms of manpower, money, time, effort, etc. to execute your plan. You then need to figure out how many resources you have at your disposal. Once you are aware of the resources, you need to deploy them strategically.
Strategically means that you need to deploy your resources in such a manner that the task can be accomplished. As an entrepreneur, you need to deploy resources while leading to the closure of tasks and activities, rather than tasks being a work in progress for an indefinite period of time. Your priorities need to be clear from the very beginning, only then you would be able to effectively deploy your resources. So consider avoiding those tasks in which no considerable output can be achieved.
6. Hire Talent
It is imperative to have the right manpower to execute your plan. If you yourself are busy doing everything, you are not managing your operations well. Make sure you spend more time in management than doing jobs yourself.
As an entrepreneur, one of your most important jobs is to find, attract and motivate talent. Unless you can do that, it would not be possible for you to execute your business plan. After creating a business plan, you’ll be able to execute it only with a talented pool of team members.
Once you have attracted talent, you would also need to motivate and retain talent. Having clear job descriptions will help your employees learn what their role is within the organization, and this will motivate them. Great entrepreneurs are very accomplished in identifying, attracting and retaining talent. It’s one of the most essential traits of a successful entrepreneur.
7. Create Your Company’s Vision & Mission Statement
This will help you define the company’s ideas and goals clearly, and it’ll help you create a path to stick to. Even if your business plan evolves, chances are your vision will still be the same. Creating a vision and mission statement is an iterative thing, you should keep coming back to look at your vision and mission statements.
Vision is a long-term, ideal utopia-like situation that you want to achieve for the greater good of our civilizations. It’s something that can be shared with the world so that they believe in your cause. For example, Tesla’s vision according to Elon Musk is to accelerate the adoption of EVs (electric vehicles) for a clear and better environment. Note Mr. Musk doesn’t talk about becoming the largest EV manufacturer here, his vision is noble and would appeal to the masses. His company being an innovative leader and market leader is a by product of the vision.
The mission of a company, on the other hand, is more short-term. Like where you would like your company to be in 5 to 7 years of time. This could have numbers like sales and profitability and could be internal to the company.
8. Stick to Your Plan but Keep Evolving It
It’s very easy to deviate from your own plan once you get into execution. No business plan goes according to its “plan”, but that does not mean you should panic. Every business evolves after creating a business plan, and you may find the need to even modify the plan to keep the costs low, profits high, etc., so that’s completely fine. You change your goal post as markets are constantly evolving, and you need to keep up with the times. You may also need to change your priorities at times, but not on an everyday basis.
Some say business management is a science, but I believe it’s more of an art. What business schools teach about business is a theory, but implementing those concepts in a real-world scenario is a different ball game altogether. In the real world, people say you need to think out of the box, what they really mean to say is you need to break conventional rules to execute, grow and survive your business idea.
Peter Thiel once told this to Mark Zuckerberg and we fully agree, “In a world that’s changing so quickly, the biggest risk you can take is not taking any risk.”
9. Stop Researching and Start Testing Your Idea
It’s one thing to create a plan but a completely different thing to actually sell something, generate your first revenue, find your first real client and gain that experience. After all, that’s what you’ve been really creating a business plan for. So don’t wait for your product or service to be completely “ready” for a formal “launch”.
The best businesses are started not with a bang, but with small sales that help them understand the market and customer needs. And those help them improve the product over time. If you have a good product, you’ll have your first customers, people will know about your company through word of mouth and you’ll be in business before you know it!
So what are you waiting for, it’s time to stop taking management lessons and advice, get your hands dirty, and start realizing your business idea.
Hope this guide will help you prioritize your next steps after creating a business plan. This is just a tip of the iceberg, and each of these steps needs a lot more brainstorming, but that’s for another article! Good luck!
Also, we would like to hear your ideas, read about your journey and your success stories, so do share those. Let me know if this guide was helpful by commenting below or by tagging us in your LinkedIn stories @businesstenet.
Abhishek Sareen is a sales & marketing professional with over 16 years of experience. He started his career as a management consultant and currently works in international business. He has set up businesses like Track & Trail, BrooksBicycles.com and created consumer brands like Montra, Machcity and Roadeo.
Prior to this, he has also worked in sports retail as department manager. He’s is a passionate cyclist and participated in several endurance competitive events like MTB Himalaya.
His interests are in behavioral psychology, economics and chess. He is a graduate in Computer Science and an MBA in Marketing. He completed his executive education from IIM-A in 2016 focusing on business strategy.