A good business plan is like a GPS: It establishes where your company is and where you want it to be, and lays out a path for getting there. While the routes and destination can change, starting your own business with direction focuses and guides your business, increasing your chances for success. It makes good business sense to review your plan every six months or annually to ensure your processes are aligned with your goals. Here are four key elements to include in your business plan.
Company overview: In this section, describe your business, including details like whether you’re home-based or in a storefront, a retail decorator or a contract shop. Identify the demand in the marketplace that you seek to fill and explain how your apparel decorating services will meet that need. Crucially, says the U.S. Small Business Administration, list competitive advantage that you think are sustainable. These are distinguishing factors that uniquely position you to bring value to customers. Doing so will help guide how you market and sell your services.
Market analysis: Here, include information on the marketplace(s) you intend to serve. Detail the size of the market and the types of consumers, businesses and organizations that could become customers. “It’s very important to identify markets,” says Donna Szakats, co-owner of Initial Impact, a Spring Lake, NJ-based apparel decorator. “The biggest mistake is trying to be everything to everyone.” To complete the market analysis, the SBA says to break down your pricing and gross margin targets, look at how much market share you can gain and evaluate your competitors. It’s a good idea to hone in on three markets you want to serve.
Sales and marketing strategy: “Once you know your market, develop a plan for how you’re going to attract those customers to your business,” says Joyce Jagger, an industry consultant known as The Embroidery Coach. The specifics of the strategy will be unique to you, depending on everything from the markets you target to the degree of your growth ambitions. Whatever your approach, the strategy should contain actionable steps for turning desired prospects into customers. To develop the strategy, answer questions like: Will you use paid advertising? How will you incorporate social media? Will you join networking groups? Can you leverage your current connections to generate sales? Will you call on prospects and leave behind flyers, business cards or samples?
Mission statement: This should go at the start of your plan, but write it after analyzing the other sections. The statement should succinctly encapsulate what your business is all about. It can be as concise as, “XYZ Embroidery is a strategic business partner that helps companies and schools in the greater Cleveland area achieve marketing objectives and other goals through the use of embroidered apparel.” In addition, promote your mission and unique selling points in your marketing and when you talk with prospects.