Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Business Plan

So I'm finding out very quickly that it's all well and good to pick a fun name for your business but that's not the first step. The first step to starting a business is to write a the business plan, even if it's just a home-based business. And you'd better be ready for some real work 'cause crap, it's not easy to write. It's 30-odd pages of facts and figures and explanations and reasons for the explanations. I can see, though, that if you've got every consideration taken care of and written down, you can't help but have a solid business model once you're done, which will serve to guide you through your first year. It's like drawing a road map to a place you've only imagined, but once you've got the map drawn out the place becomes a reality. Kind of cool.

Actually, I lie. The VERY FIRST STEP TO STARTING A BUSINESS... drum roll... is MARKET RESEARCH. You have to know exactly what it is you're going to be selling (whether product or service), who you're going to be selling to, and how.

Also, very daunting. What is my business? Well, after having to answer that question on paper, in very specific detail, I've realized it's not what I thought it was when I first proposed it in my application to the program. What I thought would be a sort of all-encompassing creative marketing, writing/editing, freelance journalism, video/photo sort of thing has been narrowed to include promotional web video production and content writing for small businesses and non-profits in the Tri-Cities.

It's still going to be called Rogue Wave Communications, but the fun part of launching a website, getting a logo on business cards and doing the rest of the marketing doesn't come until the groundwork has been laid in the plan. Argh. I HATE having to figure out financials and sales strategies and boring stuff like that. In my head my business is running smoothly, with me doing creative, inspiring work that helps local businesses and people get their message out there, with me building an awesome portfolio on my website of neat video, photo and writing...

But that's all in the future. Right now I have to figure out who I'm going to bank with, and which bookkeeper (which I've learned is not the same as an accountant) I'm going to hire to keep my receipts and invoices in order after the first quarter.

Anyway, to sum up: start with market research. If you don't know what sea you're swimming in, you'll either be eaten by sharks (the competition) or find yourself getting washed up on shore (not get any customers/clients). Pardon the bad metaphor, I just couldn't resist. Once you've done your surveys, scoped out the competition and all that good stuff, get down to the nitty gritty and write yourself a business plan.

You can take this to the bank to get a loan... which is step two: show me the money!

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