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?