It’s pretty much common knowledge these days: having a business plan for your brand will help you not only set goals, but it’ll also help you reach your goals successfully. In fact, the MOST successful brands out there very likely have very detailed business plans. They may have rewritten their business plans several times throughout the course of their business. They may even be creating a new business plan right this very moment!

Point being: to even think about reaching brand and business success—you NEED a business plan.

But before we delve into exactly how to develop your all-encompassing business plan to build up your brand, let’s take a look at why many new business startups tend to miss the mark, and sadly, trip themselves before they can even get out of the gate.

Why Startups Fail

Startups most often fail due to a lack of demand for their product or service. Makes sense, right? If there’s no market for people to buy the product you produce or no reason to purchase the service you provide, then why would any customer spend money at your company? How will your company make a profit?

Determining your target market is one of the first steps to building a successful business plan—and one of the first steps to developing a successful brand! It’s dangerous to be overly optimistic about how your startup will acquire customers. You should have a strict business model that states exactly how you plan to go about attracting those customers.

Your startup could also take a dive due to a poor management team or cash flow problems, for example. The best way to prevent an unforeseen avalanche of ongoing business problems? Get working on that business plan!

Separate Fact From Fiction

There’s a fine line between fact and fiction when it comes to developing a business plan. Rest assured—we’re here to set you straight. One of the worst business myths out there is that you don’t need a business plan. This is a mistake…on so many levels!

Years and years of research indicates that having a business plan, setting goals, and regularly reviewing those goals are the mainstays of business success. Another myth? That your business plan should be short, to the point, and only needs to be fleshed out once. Right? WRONG.

How often do market circumstances change? For example, how often does a new piece of technology enter the market and create a shift in sales? Pretty darn often in this day and age. Well, that means you’ve got to be on the ball about your business plan.

Not only should your business plan be long enough to offer flexibility in the face of changing circumstances, it should also be open to change, whenever appropriate. That doesn’t mean switching it up every time a new mobile phone comes out on the market, but it does mean remaining open to changing the business plan if your actions will save your brand in the long run.

Create a Business Plan From Scratch

The US Small Business Administration is a great first stop for learning all about how to create a great business plan. Their website has a wealth of knowledge up for grabs, just waiting for you to delve in and use it to start up your business and your brand on the right foot for 2014.

We’ve identified the following as MUST HAVES for any small business plan:

  • Company Description: this should describe what your business does, how it’s different from others, and who you intend to sell your products or services to.
  • Comprehensive Summary: an at-a-glance view of your business plan as a whole, which should include an overview of your main goals as well as a company profile.
  • Organization & Management: this should explain your established organizational structure as well as your management plan.
  • Product & Service Line: exactly what you provide to the consumer market and how you will provide it.
  • Financial Projections: you’ll likely want to include a current market analysis to make reliable projections about finances and profit.

An official business plan may include MUCH more than simply those items listed above, but this is a great place to start. Successful businesses revisit their business plans often, and adjust their brands. It’s all about establishing goals, recording growth, and pushing forward in the name of your business and your brand.

Next up, we tackle the most customer-centric part of your business plan—the MARKETING plan. After that, we’ll be working on creating an effective BRANDING plan for 2014!