Welcome to Day One in the “Kickstart your Business in 2009” series. Today, we’re going to discuss how to start on a simple business plan – a roadmap – for your business. What do you want your business to look like?
Just like soaps, businesses come in all different shapes and sizes. Soaps can be big or small, tiny or huge. They can smell fruity or fresh, spicy or sweet. They can be oily or dry, creamy or clear. They can be shaped as cats, dogs, birds, rectangles or squares. And they can be blue or green, yellow or orange, purple or pink – or even, purple-pink! As soapmakers, the form, color and characteristics you give to your soaps is entirely up to you.
Growing your new business can be a bit like this too. It can be big or small, general or specialized. It can be online or offline. It can have one employee or many. It can be local, regional, national – or even international! What it looks like is ultimately up to you! Today you might be selling in farmers’ markets. But what would you like to be doing tomorrow? What would you like to be doing this time next year? And, what would you like to see your business doing in five years time?
That’s exactly what we’re going to work on for the next few days. We’re going to look at some of the practical parts in planning for what comes next; how to grow your business. We’re going to look at some very simple tools you can start using immediately to move you from where you are today, to where you want to be tomorrow, next year, and in five years time. While doing this, I’ll also share some of the ways that I grew my own businesses, Bramble Berry, Otion and Organic Fusion.
At the most simplistic level, making a bar of melt and pour soap requires a couple of basic steps:
- First, you must cook (or melt) a base.
- Then, to make your bar unique, you add a special mix of ingredients.
- And finally, you must pour it all into a mold.
I’d like you to think about growing your business in a similar light:
- First, you’ll need to come up with a base. This base is a simple business plan. You’ll need this to create a solid foundation. It’s the basic building block that will enable you to thrive.
- Then, once you have your business plan ready and in-use, you’ll want to start thinking about what kinds of ‘special ingredients’ to add. By this I mean: what kind of unique values and vision do you want your company to have?
- And finally, you’ll want to set goals which, as they are achieved, help give shape to, and mold, the overall look of your business.
So, how do you get started with your base? How do you build a simple business plan? Luckily, it’s not nearly as hard as you might think. But it does require a bit of thinking, and getting those thoughts down on paper.
Your Homework for tonight is to visit or two soapmaking forums and spend at least 30 minutes browsing them to get a feel for the people and trends in the soap industry: http://www.teachsoap.com/forum and http://www.soapdishforum.com/
Check back tomorrow to get started on your business plan adventure.
Looking for another part in the “Kickstart Your Business” series?
Part 5 – Using Your Vision To Inspire
Part 7 – Put Your Goals To Action
Part 8 – Surround Yourself Well
Part 9 – Endless Possibilities
Hi Anne, do you have any tips on how i could build a better website? My # 1 issue is my photos.
In my experience, it's not the approaching people that is the hard thing – it's the follow up. It's easy to drop off a basket of soap, a cover letter and a price sheet. It's hard to force yourself to do the follow up phone calls and visits week after week when people aren't calling you back.
If you're unsure about marketing "The Answer" by John Assaraff" is a great book to get you started with. And "The Little Red Book of Selling" is another good one.
I created Grandma and Me Soaps 6 years ago. It is just me, myself and I. Our grown children live in another State and my husband isn't really interested in my business. Sometimes I am overwhelmed, though thankful for all orders I receive. What would your advice be on finding a partner to share in my business. I love to make the soap, but my weakness is marketing. I don't have that "Never met a stranger" personality. How is the best way to approach retail stores to carry my soap?
good advices… I am new in soapmaking and I want to develop a small business… thank you!
This series is *SO* awesome! I may not be making soap, but it gives me a lot of ideas for doing something similar for my photography business.
Thank you so much for the inspiration!
This is just the information I need for writing a grant proposal. Thanks!
Thank you! This is awesome!
The Artist says
I had never used the dish forum,I am so glad I did,great info,wow!!I am so glad to be able to follow this,thank you so much for taking the time Anne Marie.
I can’t wait to read about it! I have been thinking of starting my own soap business myself! Thanks! Looking forward to any info. about it!!
This is exciting, thank you so much. I have a little business selling plants & gardening products and have just started making soap in 2008 and I love it. It's going to be hard to incorporate it into plants etc, but I'm gonna give it a damn hard go!
I guess I have to sell a lifestyle rather than a product right?
I’m excited to follow this series, I know it’s going to be chock full of information even us seasoned business people will find valuable. I’m looking forward to making 2009 my biggest and best year ever.
Thank you Anne-Marie for all of your hard work.
Mary @ Annie's Goat Hill says
One interesting aspect of planning is, it often brings about new creativity, fresh ideas surface, and a sense of direction that becomes stronger.
This is awesome! Thank you for taking the time. I can’t believe all the work you put into us. We appreciate it!
Body Natural Soap says
If there is one thing I need is a plan and some direction. My problem is I love creating and I want to try everything. Leaves me a bit scattered.
Omg, I have that same problem
I am so looking forward to this. Thanks.
Michelle in NV
This is going to be exciting!
Just wanted to let you know that the link for teachsoap didn’t work. I believe it should be “forum” at the end rather than “forums”.
If there is anything I have done wrong – it was not having a business plan. I look forward to reading up on your business series.
Thank you so much for these segments!!
I just opened up a shop in Etsy today and can’t wait to start posting my items and growing my business!!