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How to Write a Business Plan

Before jumping into self employment, make a plan

Mature woman, talking on phone, home office, Work for Yourself 50+, AARP Foundation

Building on Your Big Idea

This step will help you flesh out your BIG IDEA, including thinking about the operational questions that will transform your idea into a reality. There are four key elements that microbusinesses need in order to be successful: Capacity, Capital, Confidence and Connections. These elements can support your success no matter what type of self-employment venture you decide to pursue.

As you explore your options and narrow your focus, it’s important to understand your strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats. This section of Work for Yourself @50+ will also help you understand the key aspects of developing your business and marketing plans while avoiding financial mistakes in the process.

Understanding Your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT)

Many businesses regularly adapt and develop SWOT analysis. This important tool can play a significant role in ensuring that your business has the information and the strategic direction it needs to succeed. 

Download scenarios to help you understand how to conduct your own SWOT analysis.  

Key Aspects of Business and Marketing Planning

Now that you’ve begun brainstorming the strategy that you will use to make your self-employment idea successful, you may be wondering what other tools you can use to help plan your self-employment venture. All microbusinesses and individual operators create business and marketing plans to help guide their work.

The Basics of a Good Business Plan
Every business needs a business plan. The plan can be short and simple for a microbusiness. A business plan encompasses information and serves two purposes:

  1. Acts as your roadmap for planning and developing the business;
  2. Demonstrates the viability of your business to investors, lenders and other audiences. 

Reading through and understanding this section will give you the information you need to successfully collaborate with an expert in developing your unique business plan. 

To get you started, the topics covered in a business plan are listed below.

Cover Page
The Cover Page displays the business name, standard contact information, the date the plan was created, and a reference number for tracking purposes (optional).

Executive Summary
The Executive Summary is a concise overview of the major elements of the plan. This is especially important as it provides the reader with a high-level overview of your business idea. The executive summary should be written last to ensure all key points are covered.

The Industry, the Company and Its Products or Services
This section includes the company’s mission and vision statements; its corporate and legal structure; a detailed description of the products and services. It can also provide an overview of the industry in which the company will function. This is where you should talk about everything a reader needs to know about the “what and why” of your company.

Market Research and Analysis
This section of your plan defines how your product or service differentiates itself from the competition. It identifies your major and secondary customers, marketing trends, and research methodology used to acquire the information. 

Marketing Plan
Your business is just getting off the ground. So why do you need a marketing plan? It’s important for the success of your business to know where you want to take it in the future. And the only way you can get there is to have a roadmap – or plan – to help guide the journey. Consider your marketing plan the roadmap to your business’s future.

Check out the basics of a marketing plan and more on this topic from The Hartford, our sponsor of this program.

Financing Your Microbusiness

The amount of money you need to get started will vary depending on the type of self-employment you want to pursue. Some options, like freelancing or consulting, may require less startup cash than a business where you need a physical plant or storefront. Finding the capital to start a business can be one of your biggest challenges. That’s why it is especially important that both the business plan and the marketing plan present a realistic picture of the needed funds to start and sustain the business.

Visit the site of our sponsor, The Hartford, to learn more: Startup Financing: What You Need to Know.

 

Call 1-888-339-5617 to request a copy of Work for Yourself@50+ 5 Simple Steps to Get You Started toolkit.

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