Many people think creating a business plan is a complicated process and see it as a necessary evil. But… it can actually be quite an exciting activity! Look at it from this perspective: you are laying down the foundations of your future entrepreneurial endeavor. And a business plan will help you articulate your idea and get you started on the right foot.
Don’t worry, you won’t have to spend hours writing it. All you need to do is answer 10 simple questions! The days of a 60-page business plans are long gone, thank God! The process can be actually done in an hour, or maybe an afternoon. Still not convinced? It can be done on one page too!
To help you with this matter, I created a one-page business plan template so that you can just fill it out and get your teaching business started today!
I created this business plan template based on my own research and experience. I used it for the purpose of starting my own business as I strongly believe in the power of “less is more”. If you can define your business in one simple sentence, you’re likely in a good position to launch and grow your company.
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How to fill out the One-Page Business Plan
Now that you have your business plan template in front of you, you can see how simple it is to fill it out. You don’t have to be an experienced business strategist or a marketeer to be able to answer those questions. As an example, I will use my fictitious “Chili Cooking School” to walk you through the template. I love to cook spicy food so if anyone actually offers these courses, please get in touch with me.
Now, let’s get started!
In the first section, you are asked to describe WHAT you offer, WHO are your customers and WHO are your competitors. This section outlines of your (future) business and will serve as a foundation for the strategic part of the plan.
Q1. What service(s) will you offer? What do you do and what is special about it?Try to provide one-sentence description of your business. You can pretend this is a question a friend asked you. What would you respond so they immediately understand the nature of your business?
Example: We offer cooking courses specializing in spicy ethnic foods. Our renowned chefs only use fresh local produce and home-grown organic chilies and spices.
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2. Who will buy your service(s) and why? Define your potential customer and explain why they will pay for your service. Ask your (potential) customers why they (will) use your service, if you’re not sure. You need to get to know your target market and understand their needs well.
Example: Our classes are for spicy food lovers who want to learn how to prepare quality hot dishes. They will attend our classes to learn about exotic chilies spices and their preparation methods.
3. List your three main competitors. Start gathering information about your competitors, or at least identify who they are. Keeping an eye on your competition is necessary for growing your business. Even if there is no direct competition in your local area, there are always indirect competitors you will have to face sooner or later.
Example: There is no other school in Sydney offering spicy cooking classes. Jay’s Culinary School offers ethnic cooking classes, Fresh Cuisine and Cook Healthier provide organic cooking lessons.
Read more: 10 Tips on How to Research Your Competition
The second part of the template should help you develop a compelling value proposition and define what is it that you business will bring to the market.
“Strategy is not planning — it is the making of an integrated set of choices that collectively position the firm in its industry so as to create sustainable advantage relative to competition and deliver superior financial returns.”
Source: Harvard Business Review
4. How will your product solve your customers’ problems? This question is closely related to the question number 2. What problem is your business solving and how? Every time we buy something we are, in a way, solving a problem we have. To simplify the matter; if we’re hungry, we buy ourselves a snack.
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Think about your business as a solution to someone’s problem. Why do your customers need you? What problem is your product responding to by being on the market? These are very important questions. To offer a service is not enough, you need to offer a service that people need!
Example: It is difficult to find exotic chilies in Sydney. People spend long time researching exotic spicy recipes with an uncertain outcome. We have a great selection of fresh chilies and work with experienced chefs so spicy food lovers can discover new flavors through a hands-on experience.
5. What makes you different? Why is your service different and better than the competition? It is unlikely your service is one-of a-kind. I bet there are other tutors or private schools in your area who have similar courses in the same discipline. You have to think about what makes you stand out from the crowd and how you can distinguish yourself from the competitors. In other words, you have to create a Unique Selling Proposition.
Example: We offer unique cooking experience for anyone interested in spicy cuisine. We pride ourselves in providing organic fresh produce and grow the largest selection of fresh chili peppers in the country.We work with renowned chefs in Sydney.
6. How are you going to make money? How much does it cost you to provide the service you want to offer? How much does your service cost and how many customers can you expect? You need to get into the basic financial modelling to make sure your business will be profitable. Again, start with simple assumptions and basic calculations to have an overall idea.
Example: We will host 50 cooking courses in 2014. Each course costs $500. We expect to have 10 students per course. Our estimated costs are $150.000. Our projected profit for 2014 is $100.000.
Image by S John Davey via Flickr
7. Describe the gap in your market. Questions 3 and 7 are not about your business but about your competition. After you have found your main competitors, you should be able to identify what is missing on the market you are planning to enter. And more importantly, are you filling that gap?
Example: While there are multiple quality cooking schools in Sydney, none of them specialises in spicy foods. While other schools provide organic local produce, none of them grow their own spices. Classes taught by renowned chefs are rare to find.
8. How will your potential customers learn about your business? How will you attract your first students? Outline your go-to-market strategy. You need to think about how you will reach your target market and where you will promote your service. Your marketing strategy will depend on many elements: the nature of your business, who your customers are and how they consume information; and obviously your budget. You cannot expect that people will find you. Especially at the beginning, you need to FIND THEM!
Example: Offline: We will advertise our courses on the local radio stations and in the local newspaper. Online: We will be using Google AdWords and Facebook Ads to promote our school. We will give all new students a 10% discount. We will use our chefs as our brand ambassadors to spread the word.
Image by VinothChandar via Flickr
9. What are you aiming at? What is your long-term vision? Think about where you want your company to be in three years. Your vision should be inspiring and extincting for everyone that works with you. Having a vision is about knowing where you’re going, not how you’re going to get there. First, you need to choose a destination, then you figure out the best way to get there.
Read more: Creating a Company Vision
Example: To become one of the most renowned Sydney’s cooking schools; providing world-class customer experience. To be the destination for spicy food lovers.
10. How will you measure success? Your business, like everybody else’s, is based on assumptions. There are different metrics you can employ to measure performance of your business against those assumptions. It’s a hard call because these will depend on how you actually define success of your business. Is your success going to be measured by profit, company productivity, customer or employee satisfaction? Probably by a combination of at least some of these.
Read more: Five measures for micro business success
Example: The most important metrics we will use to measure success are: brand awareness, sales conversion rate, customer satisfaction index, revenue growth.
I hope by now you are ready to create your own business plan and you will have fun doing so! I’d love to hear your experience with filling out the One-Page Business Plan. Please share your comments or questions below.
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