10 Key Things To Include in Your Business Plan For Ultimate Success

If you want to be fully prepared for all of the possible chaos that owning a business can throw your way.

This is so exciting, you've decided to not only take the plunge into starting your own business, but you are planning first. Throughout my time as a business owner, I have come across those who have diminished the idea of writing a business plan-even insisted it was not necessary in starting a successful business. Starting a business without writing a business plan is much like going to the grocery store without a shopping list. Yes, you will eventually get to the checkout counter without one, but you will probably also spend money on things you don't need, waste time trying to remember what you do need, and have to re-visit places multiple times because you weren't thorough enough the first time... Have I made my point? With a grocery list (or business plan) you will breeze through the aisles, buying only what you need, and being efficient with your precious time and money.

Still need convincing? Check out this article on the proven success of business planning.

Are business plans easy to write? If you as a business owner are being critical enough to find concrete facts and research behind your plan- a business plan should not be easy. They are designed to make you think, study, and get to know your business (and industry) on a whole new level.

Do business plans take a long time to write? I will not lie to you, a good business plan will be time-consuming and lengthy. If you're like me, extremely passionate about your business, the composition of your business plan will be interesting and exciting. To give you some perspective, my original business plan for Love and Lee was approximately 40 pages and about 12,000 words. Am I saying this is necessary? Not at all. But by the time I felt confident that I covered all of my bases and touched upon all of the points I felt were relevant, I had 12,000 words.

Are business plans overwhelming? Not if you break them into categories to conquer one by one. Take your time. Start now and complete sections when you can; when the kids go to bed, when you wake up in the morning, jot down points when you are waiting for the dentist to call you up for your appointment. It took me a few weeks to complete my plan, then a few more days to edit the plan, but I never felt overwhelmed, because although I gave myself a tentative completion date, I took my time and broke it into sections.

Where can I find a sample business plan to base mine off of? I found a fairly detailed business plan online here that will show you the different categories that you can break your plan into in order to not get overwhelmed.

The longer I own my business, the more I discover categories that I should have included in my plan, as it would have been beneficial to plan for them. The less you plan, the more you need to figure out, either in spur of the moment with a customer standing at your checkout counter or at 3 am when you should be sound asleep.

Below are 10 points to include in your business plan for ultimate success, and I hope that you will take the time to include in yours to ensure a smooth start-up to your business.

1. What E-Tools You Plan To Use For Day-To-Day Operations

I wish I would have dedicated some time to researching what other experts in my field were using to run their businesses. I still discover apps, programs, books, modules, and websites that I wish I would have known about so much earlier, if I just would have done some research.

For example, The app Preview is used by businesses, influencers, and bloggers to plan out their Instagram posts. This helps them not only pre-plan their daily posts, but see how the image will fit into their colour-scheme or aesthetic. If you know that you have a busy week coming up, and know that you won't have the time to post each day, you can schedule your posts with Preview in advance. Game changer.

2. Possible Partnerships & Charities

When planning and starting your businesses, it's easy to get completely caught up in what you are doing, and not think about what others are doing. However, something I learned quickly (and by chance) is the value of teaming up with other businesses (particularly boss ladies!) whose values, missions (okay-and aesthetic) can complement your business-and vice versa. It is invaluable to sought out your "business bestie" and come up with a plan together for how you both can benefit from teaming up for giveaways, hosting events, discounts, or even just promoting one another. If you share a target audience, it is also a great opportunity to grow one another's following.

3. Competition (Near or Far)

This is definitely a category that I wish I would have dove deeper into researching when I was writing my plan, not so much for similar businesses in my area, but researching similar businesses everywhere. There is great value in studying businesses in your industry and how they execute their operations day to day, how they format their website, and how they add value to their business. Follow accounts that sell similar product or perform similar services for inspiration and motivation. Tip: You can check out how big businesses marketed around the holidays throughout the last few years using this website .

Word of caution, in the words of Boutique Boss Ashley Alderson: Comparison is the thief of joy. Do not compare your "right now" to anyone else's "right now"- you are on a completely separate journey. Do not get frustrated, get motivated.

4. 1 Year Plan

Most business plans tell you to focus on a 3 year, 5 year, even a 10 year plan. However, I really wish I would have included a section about my 1 year plan and goals. There can be a lot of room for growth within the first year of business (if it is well planned out), and I think that we focus a lot on the hustle and bustle of our Grand Opening or Online Launch, that we don't plan for when that hustle and bustle is over and we need to continue setting goals and achieving them. How many followers on social media do you want to have by the end of your first year? How many website views per month? How many sales per week? Do you want to offer an additional service or product? These are goals we can set for our first year to keep us on our toes after the opening woes.

5. Specific Holiday Marketing Plan

Okay, this sub-section may go without saying, but is beyond necessary to be planned. The holidays are crazy busy in any industry- salons, restaurants, cafes, technology businesses, retail-you name it. I think that it is worth including a detailed plan for how your business plans to handle the holiday chaos. Promotions? Events? When will you start advertising? When will you decorate? Will you offer deals? Will you bring in special product or inventory? Businesses who capitalize on holiday shoppers have the opportunity to increase their revenue substantially, but because it will be just as busy for you on a personal level, it is important to have a well-organized plan of attack for your business.

6. Dealing With Unhappy Customers

This is definitely not the most glamorous category of your business plan, however, if an unsatisfied customer is standing in front of you fuming, it may be passed the point of planning ahead. Having a category in your business plan (that can be transferred to your employee handbook down the road) is a must if you are in any kind of service business. Have a plan for what your refund or return policy will be, so that you do not have to invent one when the time arises. Furthermore, you may want to do some research and find strategies or phrases used to diffuse situations involving unhappy clients. Being proactive using waivers, explaining your return policies to shoppers, or having your policies clearly stated on your website to cover your bases.

7. A Pandemic (or Leave of Absence) Plan

Now it would have been quite hard for me to have had the foresight into the future to devote a category to creating a plan for a pandemic/quarantine/global lock-down. However, now that we all know that it is a possible hurdle that we may encounter without warning, it is definitely worth devoting the time to creating a plan on how you can continue your cashflow without having the ability to be physically open-for-business.

8. Specific Target Audience

I encourage you to get as specific with this section as humanly possible. Like, creepily specific. Use your social media skills to paint your ideal client, patron, or shopper. Follow other business accounts that align with your brand, that you believe have a similar audience to your business, and then follow THEIR followers. Learn about these followers: What are their hobbies? What do they do for a living? What shows do they watch? What books do they read? Where do they shop? What do they spend their money on (travel, entertainment, clothing, jewelry, etc.). Knowing your target audience inside and out will allow you to categorize your audience and market to them on a new level.

9. Offline Hours

Arguably one of the most important ways to plan for the launch of your business is planning when you will not be doing business. After the renovation process, the holiday season, and opening the business, I faced an extreme case of burn out that I wish I could have planned to avoid. Full disclosure: if you do not plan to take the time to turn off, recharge, and regroup, you will burn yourself out. It is easy to just keep working when you are passionate about your career, but before you know it, work becomes more of a chore than a joy. Much like you plan the hours of your work-week, plan the hours of your down-time.

10. 1 Hour A Week to Study

I believe that any kind of business owner should devote at least one hour per week to expanding their knowledge of their field, learning new approaches to selling, and growing yourself. While 1 hour does not sound like a lot right now, it becomes very difficult once your business is in go-mode. The planning process includes how and where you plan to draw this information from. This 1 Hour can be spent listening to a podcast, reading a book, watching a seminar, listening to an audiobook, picking someone's brain, etc. Do not let yourself get so caught up in the cycle of your business that you forget that there is always room to grow.

I hope that you decide to implement these sections into your business plan to ensure your business's success. Although the most important thing to remember is to not to get overwhelmed. Take your time, put in the work, check the boxes as you go, and you will have success.

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