How to make a business plan for a startup and not die trying it?

Hello, entrepreneur! Are you ready to create your own business plan and take your startup to the next level? Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a genius to do it, but you do need a little planning and, of course, a touch of humor to survive this process.

Let’s get to it!

1. Prepare an executive summary

The first thing you should do is create an executive summary that explains the purpose of your startup, the problem it solves and how you plan to do it. But please don’t die of boredom when writing it. Add a touch of humor and make it interesting and engaging.

For example, if you’re creating a startup that offers online childcare services, you could write something like, “Have you ever wanted to go out for a drink with your friends, but you can’t because you have to watch your kids? We understand and have created a solution for you.”

Preparing an effective executive summary requires following a clear and concise structure. Here are the steps you can follow to prepare an executive summary:

  1. Introduction: Begin the executive summary with a brief introduction that captures the reader’s attention and sets the context. It should be compelling and highlight the relevance of the project, report or plan in question.
  2. Project Description Provide a clear and concise description of the project or plan. Explain what it is about, what its main objective is and what problems or needs it addresses. Highlights the most important aspects and distinctive features of the project.
  3. Goals and objectives: List the specific goals and objectives of the project. These must be clear, measurable and achievable. Establish what the project is expected to achieve and how success will be measured.
  4. Methodology or approach: Describes the methodology or approach to be used to carry out the project. Explains the main activities, strategies or approaches to be implemented and how potential challenges or risks will be addressed. If relevant, mention the tools or technologies used.
  5. Expected results: Details the expected results of the project. You can mention the main milestones or deliverables, as well as the benefits or impacts expected to be achieved. Use figures or hard facts whenever possible to back up your claims.
  6. Market or context analysis: If relevant, provide a brief analysis of the market or context in which the project will be carried out. This may include information about the industry, competition, current trends or any other factor that influences the project.
  7. Implementation Plan: Provides a summary of the project implementation plan. This may include estimated duration, major stages or phases, resources required and any other relevant aspects. If there are key milestones or important events along the way, mention them.
  8. Budget and resources: If applicable, mention the estimated budget for the project and the resources required, whether financial, human or technological. If there are funding sources or investors involved, mention them as well.
  9. Conclusions and recommendations: Highlights the main conclusions derived from the project and provides recommendations based on the expected results. Emphasizes the benefits and value that the project will bring to the organization or stakeholders.
  10. Contact and follow-up: Provides contact information so that interested parties can obtain more information or ask additional questions. If there is a follow-up plan, briefly mention it.

Remember that an executive summary should be brief and to the point. Use clear language and avoid technical or overly complex jargon. Review it carefully to ensure that it conveys the information clearly and concisely, and captures the essence of the project effectively.

2. Do market research

Market research can be tedious, but it can also be fun if you approach it the right way. Start by researching your competition and see what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. Can you improve on what they are already doing? Can you offer something they don’t?

It is also important to know your target audience. Who are your potential customers and what do they want? Research their needs and desires and find out how you can meet them.

If you are still not sure how to do this, don’t worry. You can hire a market researcher or simply ask your grandmother. Maybe she has a business similar to yours in the 80’s and has some valuable advice.

Doing effective market research requires following a structured process. Here are the steps you can follow to conduct market research:

  1. Define the research objectives: Before starting, it is important to clearly establish the research objectives. What information do you want to obtain? What specific questions do you want to answer? Defining objectives will help you focus and guide the entire research process.
  2. Determine the scope and target audience: Define the scope of your research, i.e. the geographic market or specific sector you wish to study. In addition, clearly identify who your target audience is, i.e., the people or groups to whom you want to direct your research.
  3. Collect secondary data: Before embarking on primary data collection, search for and review existing information from secondary sources. This may include market research reports, government statistics, academic studies, news articles and other reliable sources. Secondary data can provide you with a solid base of knowledge and help you identify gaps in information.
  4. Design the research methodology: Determine the best research methodology to obtain the data you need. You can opt for quantitative methods (surveys, statistical analysis) or qualitative methods (in-depth interviews, focus groups). You must also decide whether the research will be conducted in person, by telephone or online, depending on the needs and characteristics of your target audience.
  5. Develop a questionnaire or interview guide: If you are going to conduct surveys or interviews, develop a well-structured questionnaire or interview guide. Make sure the questions are clear, relevant to your objectives and address all aspects necessary to obtain the required information.
  6. Collect primary data: Conducts primary data collection according to the chosen methodology. This may involve conducting surveys, interviews, observations or other research techniques. Be sure to follow careful planning and properly record and document all data collected.
  7. Analyze the data: Once you have collected the data, proceed to analyze it systematically. Use statistical techniques, graphs or other relevant tools to extract relevant information and answer your research questions. Identifies significant patterns, trends or relationships in the data.
  8. Interpret the results: After analyzing the data, interpret the results according to your research objectives. Draws conclusions based on evidence and relates the findings to the current market situation. It examines the implications and recommendations arising from the research results.
  9. Present findings: Communicate research findings clearly and effectively. You can create reports, presentations, graphs or visualizations to convey information in an understandable way. Be sure to highlight key findings, provide context, and support your conclusions with hard data.
  10. Take action: Use research findings to make informed and strategic decisions in your business. Implement the recommendations derived from the market research and follow up to evaluate the impact of your actions.

Remember that successful market research requires planning, diligence and rigorous analysis. In addition, be sure to maintain the confidentiality of the data collected and comply with applicable data protection regulations.

3. Define your business model

Now is the time to define your business model. How do you plan to make money with your startup? Will it be by selling products, providing services, advertising or something else? Again, don’t get bored while doing it.

Think of the craziest and most fun way to monetize your startup. For example, if you’re creating a dating app, why not offer a “super like” feature that allows you to send virtual flowers or chocolates to your potential date?

Defining the business model is a fundamental step for the success of any company. Here are the steps you can follow to define your business model:

  1. Identify your value proposition: Start by understanding the unique value your company offers to customers. What problems does your product or service solve? What needs does it satisfy? Clearly define what your value proposition is and how it differs from the competition.
  2. Know your target audience: Identify your target audience and understand their demographics, behaviors, needs and wants. The better you know your audience, the more precisely you can design a business model that fits their needs.
  3. Research the market and competition: Conduct a thorough analysis of the market in which you operate. Understands market trends, opportunities and challenges. Study your competitors to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and find opportunities to differentiate yourself.
  4. Select a revenue model: Define how you will generate revenue with your business model. You can consider options such as selling products, providing services, subscription, advertising, commissions or other monetization models. Choose the revenue model that best suits your value proposition and your target market.
  5. Design the cost structure: Identify the key costs associated with your business model. This may include production, distribution, marketing, personnel, technology and other operating expenses. Determine how to control and reduce costs without compromising the quality of your offering.
  6. Define distribution channels: Determine how you will reach your customers and how you will distribute your product or service. Consider physical channels (retail stores, distributors), online channels (website, e-commerce) or a combination of both. Make sure you select the most efficient and effective channels to reach your target audience.
  7. Establish customer relationships: Decide how you will relate to your customers and how you will build a lasting relationship with them. You can opt for a self-service approach, personalized customer service, loyalty programs or other strategies. The goal is to create a positive experience that generates loyalty and recommendations.
  8. Define the organizational structure: Determine the organizational structure needed to support your business model. Defines roles and responsibilities, functional areas and hierarchical relationships. Make sure that the organizational structure is consistent with your strategy and allows the company to function efficiently.
  9. Evaluate and adjust: Periodically review and evaluate your business model. Observe the results, analyze customer feedback and make adjustments where necessary. The business environment and customer needs can change over time, so it is important to be willing to adapt and evolve.

Remember that the business model must be flexible and able to adapt as you grow and face new challenges. Don’t be afraid to try different approaches and adjust your model as needed to achieve long-term success.

4. Define your marketing strategy and make it fun.

It’s time to think about how you are going to promote your startup. What marketing channels will you use? Will it be through social media, email marketing, online advertising or a combination of all of them?

Don’t limit yourself to traditional marketing methods. Add a touch of humor and create a fun and creative marketing strategy. For example, if you’re creating a pet food startup, why not make an ad where the family dog becomes the boss of the house and demands the food he wants?

Defining an effective marketing strategy is essential to achieve a company’s business objectives. Here are the key steps to define your marketing strategy:

  1. Set goals and objectives: Clearly define the results you want to achieve with your marketing strategy. Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals (SMART objectives). For example, increase brand awareness, generate more leads, increase sales or improve customer retention.
  2. Know your target audience: Conduct detailed research on your target market. Understand the needs, wants, behaviors and demographics of your target audience. The better you understand your audience, the more effective your marketing strategy will be in reaching them in a relevant way.
  3. Analyze the competition: Perform a competitive analysis to understand how your competitors are positioned in the market and what marketing strategies they are using. Identify your strengths, weaknesses and opportunities to differentiate yourself and stand out in the market.
  4. Define your value proposition: Identify and clearly communicate what makes you unique and why customers should choose your product or service over competitors. Highlight the benefits and distinctive features that offer value to your customers.
  5. Marketing channel selection: Identify the most effective marketing channels to reach your target audience. These may include digital marketing (website, social media, email marketing, SEO), advertising (online ads, print ads), public relations, content marketing, events, among others. Choose the channels that are most relevant and effective for your target audience and business goals.
  6. Develop an action plan: Define the specific tactics and actions you will implement to achieve your marketing objectives. Establish a timeline, assign responsibilities and establish metrics to measure progress and results. It considers the implementation of promotional campaigns, content strategies, SEO strategies, advertising campaigns, participation in events, among others.
  7. Marketing budget: Determine the budget you will allocate to your marketing activities. Consider available resources and allocate funds strategically to maximize return on investment. Prioritize and balance your resources between different marketing tactics and channels.
  8. Measure and analyze results: Establish key metrics to measure the performance of your marketing strategy. Use analytics tools to monitor and evaluate the results of your marketing efforts. Analyze the data collected and make adjustments to your strategy as needed to continually improve your performance and achieve your objectives.
  9. Adaptation and continuous improvement: The market environment and customer needs may change over time. Stay on top of trends, listen to customer feedback and make adjustments to your marketing strategy as needed. Adaptability and continuous improvement are critical to long-term success.

Remember that every company is unique, so it is important to customize these steps to fit your industry, business and specific objectives.

5.Determine the structure of your business plan.

Once you have gathered all the necessary information, it is time to get down to work and start structuring your business plan. It is important to keep in mind that the structure may vary depending on the business model and the objective to be achieved with the business plan. However, here is a basic structure that you can follow:

  1. Executive summary: It is a brief summary of the business plan, which includes the most important aspects. It must be attractive enough to make potential investors want to read on.
  2. Market Analysis: This includes a description of the market, potential customers, competition, as well as current and future market trends.
  3. Marketing plan: It details how the startup is going to be known and how it is going to attract customers. This includes marketing strategy, communication channels, budget and objectives.
  4. Operations plan: It describes how the production or provision of the service is going to be carried out, what are the processes, the necessary resources, the organizational structure and the contingency plan.
  5. Financial plan: This includes the financial projections, the budget, the analysis of costs and expenses, the expected profitability and the financing strategy.
  6. Work team: The startup’s work team is presented, their experience and skills, as well as the organizational structure.

Remember that the business plan must be clear, concrete and coherent. Avoid making the mistake of including unnecessary or irrelevant information.

6. Let’s get to work!

The time has come to put everything you have learned into practice and start writing your business plan. Remember that this is not an easy task, but with dedication and effort, you will achieve a business plan that reflects the true essence of your startup.

And don’t get discouraged if at any time you find yourself blocked or confused, you can always ask for help from friends or mentors who have experience in the business world.

Best of success in your endeavor!