Owning a small business is something that many people aspire to. It’s a way of gaining financial independence and creating something to be proud of. The problem that aspiring entrepreneurs encounter is the question of where to start. Creating the best business plan involves quite a few factors that you have to take into account. You have to understand the market, your audience, and what you would realistically bring to both. With so much to think about, it’s understandable that a lot of people pursue independent business success but never make it past the idea stage. If you want to run your own business but feel intimidated, here are some important things to think about while you develop a business plan.

Who is your audience?

You may have all sorts of ideas for a small business but to gain traction, you have to think beyond your idea to your potential customers or clients. In the early stages of developing a business plan, it’s imperative that you put effort into identifying your target audience. If there is a very limited audience for the product or service you are selling, you are starting out behind. The first step is to think geographically. By this, I mean are you opening up shop in a small town or a big city, or are you looking at global reach through an online marketplace? This is important because (1) the smaller your market, the more narrow your focus needs to be, and (2) the bigger your market, the more competition you have.

Let’s say you are setting up a physical store in a very small, conservative town where the median age is 50. Opening a tech store with the latest smartphone accessories might not have as broad a market as it would in a big city. However, think about opening the same business in New York City. In the first scenario, you have a smaller group that may have less interest in your product, however, if you do find an audience for your tech products, you can dominate that market. In the second scenario, your audience is much bigger, but you have to fight against massive competition to convince people to come to you instead of the other guys. In both scenarios, you are identifying your target audience, and how to best demonstrate your value to them.

What do they need?

Once you have identified the audience available to you, it’s time to ask a question. Successful business is all about looking at things from the perspective of your clients. Your job is to solve a problem your audience has. You have to look at your geographical audience and ask yourself “What do they need?” If you can provide a much-needed solution while putting yourself ahead of any competition, you win.

How do you beat the competition?

Competition is what drives business. Your goal is to make sure that you are moving in the right direction. There are three things you need to show your audience if you want to beat the competition. (1) knowledge, (2) Ability, and (3) Innovation. What this means is that you have to demonstrate that you have a full understanding of your customer’s problem, you have the tools to help, and you have something unique that sets you apart from the other guys. That last one is one of the most important and most challenging aspects of running and marketing your business. Whatever you do, chances are someone else does the same thing. If you can’t tell your audience what makes you different, then you aren’t giving them a reason to work with you instead of someone else.

What is your actual work going to look like?

At this point, you have a good idea of how to target and market to your audience. There is, however, one thing that a lot of people don’t really take into consideration. Do you really understand what is going to be expected of you on a daily basis? How much work are you going to have to do daily to maintain your business? Are you going to need to hire or contract others to make it work? The day-to-day logistics of running a business are often overlooked when we fixate on the aspect of making money. It’s important to really understand what you are getting yourself into with any business venture. This brings me to my last, and extremely important point.

Is this what you want to do?

It’s amazing how often people don’t really think this one through. Aspiring entrepreneurs will assess the market, put together a business plan, and use targetted marketing to build a brand, all without taking the time to determine if it’s really what they want to do in life. You don’t want to end up trapping yourself in a job that you don’t like because you were chasing success without thinking of the cost. Ultimately, you have to remember when formulating a business plan to think about your audience and the market but at the same time, don’t forget about yourself.

Thanks for reading, and take care.  

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