Want to develop a business plan but don’t have the time? These seven questions are foundational to every successful business plan.
Instead of dredging through the creation of a 40 page monograph on your business strategy and how you will function, start with these seven questions. They will form the bones of your business plan and equip you with everything you need to get your business moving.
“In the end, every startup is different. But in the beginning every startup is the same.” — Richie Norton
If people want convenient food options, UBER Eats provides it. If people want on-demand entertainment Netflix is at their service. If people want to change the world and still look fashionable Toms saves the day. Whatever it is, the most successful businesses effectively identify a problem that customers share, and then how their business can solve it. These seven powerful questions will walk you through this process.
1. What problem are you solving?
People don’t buy your strategy, they buy solutions to their wants and needs. All successful businesses see the things they do through this lens. You must identify what your main thing is, and then only develop products and services that solve this problem.
2. Who are you solving it for?
Problems are never exclusive to one person. If it affects one, it affects many. You challenge as a business founder is to identify who this “many” is. The more specific you are, the better you are able to tailor your solution.
3. What is your main product or service?
Every business needs a signature product. This is what customers identify with when they think of your organization. Your product must widely resonate as a solution to a problem that many people share. It must also provide a substantial profit margin so that it serves as an economic foundation for your business.
4. How will you get your product or service to your customers?
Your business can provide the best solution in the world but if customers can’t find it, it might as well not even exists. There are essentially two types of customers: the ones you find, and the ones that find you. Finding customers is hard work, but if you nurture them and provide them with overwhelming value, they will recommend you to everyone that they meet. Think of the multiplication effect when customers are finding you faster than you can find them.
5. Who are your competitors?
Every business has only a share of the market. The question is, how big is that share? The organization that provides the best solution, in the best way, will outpace their competition. The challenge is “what is best” is always a moving target. Technology, markets, and competitor actions, require us to constantly pay attention and adapt to changing circumstances.
6. What makes you unique?
Brand recognition makes your business a familiar voice in a crowded room. Customer’s will pay more attention to what you are selling if they believe in your product, service, or message. To connect with your customers in this way, you must communicate how your organization provides unique value.
7. What is your long-term vision?
A ship with a destination will always go farther than one without it. There is something inspiring about businesses that set goals that seem out of reach. It causes those inside the organization to do more than they thought they could. Also, it inspires those outside the organization to feel they are part of each milestone and extraordinary success.