What Is a Business Plan and What Does It Include?
Every successful business is based on a well thought out business plan. This plan is necessary for developing your business and will help you to pinpoint questions that will need to be addressed in the initial planning stages.
Before the plan is developed, you need to ask yourself how your disability will impact your business idea. When you are developing your plan, you need to ask yourself how your disability will affect each part of the plan. Examples of questions you might ask are as follows:
- "How will I carry out this activity with my disability?"
- "What will my disability-related costs be?"
- "Will this activity affect my disability?"
- "Will I be able to do this activity on an ongoing basis?"
- "Is there an easier way to do this activity that will have less impact on my disability?"
A business plan is a written document that outlines all the activities that will be included in your business. It addresses all the questions associated with each business activity. It is a roadmap that will tell you how to get to where you want to go.
A business plan includes:
- Short- and long-term goals
- Who will manage and own the business
- Foreseen strengths and weaknesses of the business
- How the weaknesses can be overcome
- Plans for marketing, sales, and production of your product/service
- Who your market is and what the demands are for your product/service
- The business's potential for flexibility and accommodating change
Entrepreneurs with disabilities must give due consideration to how their disability will "fit into" the business plan. While it is important to be enthusiastic, one must be realistic and factor in health limitations that could affect the business.
The entrepreneur might consider hiring someone to assist in activities that will be affected by the disability. The daily associated cost must be considered. How will your daily profits be affected? Will your profits enable you to cover your costs and still have a livelihood?
You will also need to consider the cost of medication or other expenses related to your disability. What will be the cost of maintaining your health?
The following are some tips when developing your plan:
- Don't try to fool anyone including yourself. Be honest with yourself. Will you be able to achieve what you want to achieve? What will the setbacks be?
- Clearly indicate how you will be able to achieve your goals.
- Use tables, charts, graphs, and illustrations where needed.
- Do not just assume that you will make a lot of money. Substantiate your projections. What will be your revenue sources? Measure your revenue sources against costs. While it is good to be optimistic, one must do the math. Your projections must be reasonable.
- The body of your business plan should outline the basic facts. Appendices can be used for the details such as financial statements and graphs.
- Your business plan should look as professional as you would like your business to be. It should be error-free and professionally bound.
- Your business plan will not be written in stone, so be sure not to tuck it away under the floor boards. It will be a working document. You will need to re-visit it on a regular basis to see if any parts of your business need to be changed. It is, therefore, important to keep an electronic copy of your plan.
In your business plan, indicate what your vision is for your business. Your vision should address the following questions:
Managing Your Business
- Where do you want your business to be (i.e. what do you want to achieve?) one, three, and five years from now?
- How will you make your business more competitive?
- What major hurdles do you see for your business in the next two years?
A major cause of business failure in Canada is poor management. It is imperative that entrepreneurs be good managers of money, people, and resources. Money, people, and resources will form the base of your business.
Source of the above information: Control your Destiny, a booklet produced by the Canadian Association of Independent Living Centres (CAILC) in partnership with the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Network (EDN), Canada.