The words “business plan” can be a bit intimidating and evoke feelings of Business Studies classes in high school. But, really, it’s a no-brainer for any start-up. You can even download simple business plan templates from the internet. What can’t you find on the internet? (Nothing!)
Liveplan is an online tool that helps you to formulate your business plan. It asks all the right questions around mission statements, target market, competitive landscape, etc. plus there’s a section for financials where you can input budgets and cash flow projections. The tool also syncs with your Xero account (see our tip on Xero!) and provides neat charts and graphs on how your actual performance is tracking versus budgets.
Just like having a simple (but flexible) business plan, it’s also good to have something substantial in place for your marketing. HOW are you going to actually sell the thing that you’ve been working on building or making?
We reached out to marketing and communications guru Kian West, for his advice on creating a marketing strategy, which is a little more left-of-centre than some, but definitely just as viable!
“Once you work out the demographic that you’re targeting, find out where they hang out - both digitally and physically, and tailor towards that, but broaden that out a bit to include some other potential demographics. Because when you pivot (and your business will change in some way when starting out!) the demographic might evolve to be something slightly (or completely) different.
Honestly, the best advice I can give anyone is: work out how expensive it would be to fail, evaluate that expense against what you will learn, as well as what you will earn if you succeed and if you are prepared to lose it all then go for it! Chances are you won’t fail, but if you are willing to lose it all you are also willing to gain it all. Then, I’d also say it is worthwhile finding mentors as you gain skills, someone to bounce ideas off of and those around you willing to give honest constructive feedback to keep you on track.
I still like the quote that Jodie York turned into an Instagram post… something like ‘You learn by doing.’ I guess I’d continue that by saying that I like the tech start-up term Minimal-Viable-Product (MVP), which simply means to get a product good enough to put it out to market, something that is ready to use but still has some bugs, and then live-test the MVP and fix the problems as you go. Like Apple. It’s surprising how much people will keep using something that’s good if they can give feedback and it’s actioned. So it is important to action those requests that make sense and to explain to users what your long-term goal is. They are more likely on the same page, or aren’t the right customer for you.”