When you started selling your soap, did you start out with an idea that you would make handcrafted soap and immediately write your business plan? Or were you like many small businesses; your hobby morphed into a business and you are just winging it?
If you fall into the latter category, it’s never too late to write a business plan. Even if you “know” what you are doing, having a written plan allows you to clarify the direction that you are taking with your company. A business plan allows you to reflect back and see if you are on track with your vision; it allows you to keep focused on what is important for growing your business.
Not sure where to start? Your report does not have to be a tome, just a few pages that outline areas of concentration for your complete business. A standard business plan contains: an executive summary, description and vision of the business, market definition, description of products / services, sales & marketing strategy, and financial assumptions.
Many resources are available through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). With development centers in many cities, the SBA provides workshops, online training, information, and tools to help entrepreneurs with activities that build their businesses. You can find a free step by step business plan template online on the SBA’s website.
Once you have written your business plan, the benefits go beyond just having a written document. You will have a document that you can add into your portfolio that you can use for other purposes such as business competitions and applying for a loan. Along with having a business plan, it is useful to also write a marketing plan. The foundation of your marketing plan will be included in the business plan. The marketing plan includes the tactical details.