If you’re thinking about starting a business in Eastern Kentucky, we applaud you.
All of us at SOAR believe there are new business opportunities available to Eastern Kentuckians today. Our goal is to help our community thrive in the 21st-century economy. We’re here to provide you with the resources and know-how you need to launch your business.
SOAR Innovation — powered by Kentucky Innovation — is a branch of our organization that focuses exclusively on entrepreneurship. Our mission is to support entrepreneurs through every step of the journey to business ownership.
Our team of experts knows all entrepreneurs must invest in a strong foundation for their business before they go live. This helps to increase the chances of a business succeeding. If you wish to become an entrepreneur, this is true for you, too.
Your first step towards business ownership is writing a simple business plan.
SOAR Innovation has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs in Eastern Kentucky. We’d like to share the most important lessons from these experiences with you — starting with our easy-to-follow template to create your first business plan.
Who needs a business plan
SOAR Innovation supports all stages of entrepreneurship:
- Stage 1: Considering Entrepreneurship
- Stage 2: Early Entrepreneurs
- Stage 3: Growing Entrepreneurs
- Stage 4: Mature Entrepreneurs
As entrepreneurs progress between each stage, there’s one area of common ground between them: Each relies on a strong business plan to guide their way.
Writing your business plan starts at the very beginning, when you’re just considering entrepreneurship.
This will look different depending who you are and what type of business you want to start. A few examples of people in the consideration phase may be:
- College or high school students who want to launch a side-hustle
- Students thinking about creating their own business after graduation
- People who want to grow their side hustle or hobby into a full-time role
- First-time entrepreneurs planning to launch a business soon or have recently launched — but don’t have their business plan yet
Why you need a business plan
Investing your time and energy into creating a business plan will pay you dividends.
The goal of a business plan is to translate your vision into clear action steps for each core area of your business.
When you’re busy running your team, your business plan will serve as your roadmap to keep your most essential priorities top of mind. Skipping this step may cost you time and money down the road.
Your venture is 16% more likely to succeed if you write a business plan. It’s also a requirement if you ever plan to work with investors or borrow from a lender.
A successful business plan will explain:
- What purpose your business serves, including the products and services you deliver.
- Who your customers are and the value you offer them.
- Who your competition is and how you’re different.
- How your finances add up and what you’ll need to be profitable.
- What goals you’ve set for growth and what it’ll take to achieve them.
You’re off to a great start if you can answer those questions clearly and concisely.
However, it will take some time to develop those answers. Patience with the process will serve you well.
What a business plan should include
There’s no need to start from scratch. If you take advantage of the available resources, writing your business plan will be much easier than you think.
You should use the One-Page Business Plan to get started.
There are eight main points your business plan must include:
- Executive summary — Summarize your entire business plan. Your executive summary is like a first impression: You need to nail it right from the start. While this phrase may sound fancy or intimidating, it’s really quite simple: Describe exactly why you want to start this business and what you hope to accomplish.
- Company description and your value proposition — Explain what you do and the needs you’ll fulfill for your customers.
- Description of your products or services — Outline a high-level sketch about what exactly will generate your revenue.
- Management experience — Prove to investors you can lead your business across all phases of entrepreneurship. This includes any past experience you have with management and leadership.
- Market and competitive analyses — Show your research around product-market fit, differentiation, and the opportunities available to your business.
- Marketing goals — Explain how you’ll get the word out about your business, including the appropriate channels to reach your audience and expected results.
- Financial reporting and projections — Show a topline view of how you expect to grow financially based on research and careful planning.
- Funding request with an attached budget — Ask for an equity investment or a loan, including how much, what you’ll use it for, and how much it’ll help you grow.
You can explore these eight points in-depth with SOAR’s downloadable resources.
The Complete Guide to Entrepreneurship in Eastern Kentucky provides simple instructions for this phase of entrepreneurship. Follow the checklists in Part 1: Planning Your Business, and you’ll gain the confidence you need to complete your first business plan.
The SOAR Innovation team can help you create a business plan using this template, too.
What to avoid when writing a business plan
Sometimes it can be just as helpful to know what not to do. Before you get started, be sure to avoid these common pitfalls when writing your business plan:
Don’t go deep into the details
Your business plan isn’t the place to explore tactics. It’s a summary document that all other areas of your business look to for guidance. Keep each section purposeful and strategic.
Don’t include unresearched claims or goals
If you haven’t done your due diligence, don’t include it in your business plan. That’s like making a promise to yourself you might not be able to keep — setting a shaky foundation for your brand new business.
Avoid excessive length
Be clear and concise. Your business plan shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes for someone to read.
Ask for help
Self-sufficiency is great — but don’t avoid asking for help. You need to get someone who’s done this before to review your business plan before you consider it final. In fact, you should have several people check it.
Next steps: Start creating your business plan
The beginning of your entrepreneurship journey is an exciting time — accompanied by a wide range of emotions. Remember that the greatest asset in your corner is your community.
SOAR Innovation is committed to celebrating and supporting you every step of the way.
To get started with creating your business plan, use the template we provided in the Complete Guide to Entrepreneurship in Eastern Kentucky.
Before you know it, you’ll already have created a solid foundation to support your business. From there, the sky’s the limit.