Business plans are like road maps
When starting a business, either online or brick-and-mortar, it’s best to have an idea of where you’re heading. What do you want? What do you hope to accomplish with your new venture?
This doesn’t have to be set in stone – in fact, it shouldn’t be since your understand of success will evolve over time. But having a general idea of where you want to go as an entrepreneur is vital to the stability and success of a business. Yet, many people who are starting their own ecommerce enterprise for the first time, neglect to lay out a solid plan for themselves. While it may just seem like words on a page and not nearly as important as the legwork that has to be done, making and following a business plan can help you as a business owner and employer.
To use an obvious metaphor, business plans are like road maps. They’re great for helping you along the way, and if you want to take a little detour to try something new out, you’ve got a framework to reference in case you need to get back on track. No one is saying you have to chisel your business plan into tablets and descend from the mountains as if it is infallible law. Just having some basics mapped out is good enough. If you’re having trouble on where to start on creating your own ecommerce business plan, take a look at these helpful hints to get you started:
- Get all your information organized. Putting together a business plan can feel a bit like working on a giant jigsaw puzzle without a picture to go by. You have your financials, your long-term projections, your products and services, milestones, all sorts of stuff that has to be combed through and ironed out. It may seem like a lot at first so make a list of what you need to cover and work through it bit by bit. Company description along with products or services should be first then financials then milestones. Let it fall into place, leave the executive summary for last.
- Look into ecommerce platform software. Ecommerce platforms are a way to create an online store that is tailored to what you need. These are easily available tools that simplify the business process. But there are a lot of options out there. Some may be too expensive or complicated for the business you are starting; some may be too simplistic and don’t have all the features you need. As with any major investment, enterprise ecommerce platform comparison and research needs to happen before you dive right in. Once you have the platform, you have another aspect of your business plan ready to go.
- Don’t be afraid to change your business plan as needed. Businesses need to be flexible and ready to pivot to meet demand. Your business plan should be a guide, not something that locks you in and can’t be molded over time. Let it be a living document.
- Check out business plans from people who have had success to see where they started. Seeing not only how a business plan is put together but also how it changes as the brand starts to take off can be incredibly helpful. This will give you what you’re doing a larger scope and will help put it all into context. A business that succeeds isn’t always the one that had every single aspect nailed down but rather one that was started with goals in mind and achievable milestones set.
Starting a business without a plan isn’t impossible. But having something to reference and present to people makes you look more professional and can help you keep your endgame in mind. It’s like building a house without blueprints: you could… but wouldn’t you feel better if you had a solid foundation and an idea of what the house is going to look like? You probably already know what direction you want your business to go. A business plan just makes sure you don’t get lost along the way.