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What Must an Entrepreneur Do After Creating a Business Plan?

By DeVry University

November 15, 2023

9 min read

The business plan for your new venture is finally complete. The buttoned-down plan includes all the necessary components like the company description, market research and analysis, marketing and sales, organization and management, and financial projections and funding considerations. Now the real work begins. But what must an entrepreneur do after creating a business plan?

 

In this article, we will reiterate the importance of a business plan and go over some of the steps entrepreneurs must take to transform their plans for viable and scalable business into reality.

The Importance of a Business Plan

What is a business plan? It’s commonly described as a road map that defines goals, objectives and specifies the strategies that will be used to achieve them. Although you may think of a business plan strictly as something visionary entrepreneurs build to map out their plans for innovative start-ups, a good business plan is useful in areas like operations, growth, feasibility and strategy for established businesses as well. It’s also a living document, which means it can grow and change over time as your vision for your business does. 

Situations that typically require creating a business plan include testing your business idea, laying out how your start-up will work, applying for business financing, attracting new partners or investors, or making significant changes in the core products or services your business offers. 

While no two are alike, most business plans include these key elements:

  • Executive summary: Briefly outlines the company, its mission statement, location, leadership and operations.

  • Products and services: Outlines the company’s offerings, which may include information about pricing and consumer benefits, manufacturing processes or proprietary technologies or patents the company may have.

  • Market analysis: Details the company’s position in the market – who it is competing with and how it will differentiate itself against the competition and take market share away from competitors.

  • Marketing strategy: Outlines how the company attends to attract and retain customers, and how it will reach them. It may include details of how advertising and marketing campaigns will be used.

  • Financial planning: For established businesses, this section will include financial statements, balance sheets and other financial information. For startups, revenue targets and estimates may be included for the first couple of years of operation, along with a description of potential investors.

  • Budget: The budget section will include details about the company’s costs related to staffing, development, production, marketing and any other expenses.

Next Steps After Creating a Business Plan

What must an entrepreneur do after creating a business plan? Once the plan is completed, additional questions need to be answered: How will you secure the funding your new venture? How will you make your company or service stand out among the competition? What can you do to create an engaging brand and build the team needed to carry your plan forward? 

Competitor research

Entrepreneurs have to continually gain greater insights into several important areas that impact the growth of their businesses. One of these areas is competitive research. This is an important first step toward knowing how your product or service is different from the competition, their promotions and pricing. Doing this before you launch yourself into the market can help you get a lay of the land that will help inform your decisions and give you an idea of what parts of your company need strengthening.

Creating your brand

Branding runs deeper than components like your company’s name and logo. Entrepreneurs should work carefully to develop a brand strategy that goes beyond creating awareness and recognition, making a clear promise to the consumer and having the strength to stand the test of time. Your strong brand strategy should include these 5 key elements:

  • Identity: The most visible, consumer-facing aspect of your brand, including your company name, logo, graphic identity system, website and other elements that contribute to the look and feel of your brand.

  • Purpose, mission and values: These 3 elements should work together to convey a strong narrative about who you are, what your brand stands for and what you hope to achieve.

  • Messaging: Closely linked with your brand identity, your messaging is the voice you will use in social media posts, on your website and in conversations with consumers. 

  • Differentiation: Offer a unique value or feature that consumers can’t get elsewhere and your competitors can’t easily imitate. 

  • Experience: Any consumer interaction with your brand – online, in person, on social media or in other ways – contributes to their overall experience. If your brand goes above and beyond for the customer, it will activate positive reviews and help inspire brand loyalty.

Marketing strategy and personas

A strong marketing plan is essential in any venture, establishing the tactics and approaches that will be used to sell into consumer or business markets. Here’s where you need to draw the most attention to your product(s) while working within financial and operational constraints. Some basic marketing strategies will include developing a strong online presence, determining the best methods to reach your target audience and what messages will resonate best with them. 

Another aspect of a good marketing plan is additional research to understand consumer behavior. Establishing buyer personas can provide a template of the different customer types you want to target your business toward, and help refine marketing methods and content strategies in order to better resonate with and serve your base.

Securing funding

Funding the new business venture can be a major challenge for small business owners. First-time entrepreneurs, after creating a business plan, can follow several steps to be sure their new ventures have access to the cash they need for growth. This includes understanding how small business loans work or tapping into some alternative and somewhat lesser-known financing options. Here are 5 such realistic funding sources for your new business:

  • Start-up loans: Specifically intended to cover the startup costs of a new business, start-up loans can fund things like working capital, furnishings, inventory and supplies, or to buy real estate for a small business. The nonprofit Accion and the Small Business Administration (SBA) are two excellent sources of start-up loans. The SBA guarantees microloans of up to $50,000 and federally guaranteed term loans called Community Advantage Loans. The specific qualifications for these depend on the lender you choose to work with.

  • Business credit cards: Used wisely, business credit cards can be an effective financing strategy, especially if you qualify for a low introductory rate. They provide fraud protection and can be used for a variety of business expenses, freeing up cash flow for expenses that can’t be paid for with a card, such as your payroll.

  • Crowdfunding: Major crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, GoFundMe and Kiva can be used as funding sources, but with a considerable amount of work beforehand. If you have an outstanding new product or idea and build a loyal following through email marketing and social media prior to launching your crowdfunding campaign, this can be a viable funding source.

  • Friends and family: Asking friends and relations for financial backing by offering shares in the new company or a return on their investment can be a good strategy. Approaching a larger number of people for a small amount not only minimizes each person’s risk, but may make the ask easier.

  • Using your 401k: There are 3 ways you can use the money in your 401(k) account to fund your new business. A procedure called Rollover for Business Startups (ROBS) allows you to incorporate your new business and open a 401(k) under it. You can cash out all or some of the funds in your 401(k) to start a business, but if you’re under 59.5 years of age, you will pay income tax and a 10% fee. Another option is to borrow from your 401(k) or IRA. You can borrow up to $50,000 tax-free and pay back the loan within 5 years.

Building your team

Successful entrepreneurs recognize the importance of working with other professionals, building in-house and outsource teams of players that will understand, embrace and work to accomplish the goals outlined in their business plans. This requires talent with the skills, knowledge and experience to get the job done with minimal supervision. Hiring people who have skills that you don’t have can help unleash the full collective potential of your team.

Another consideration at this stage is to select professionals to help out in two crucial areas – accounting and legal services. You may choose to work with outsourced talent in these areas on an as-needed basis, then create in-house positions later.

Networking

Whether starting up a new business or running a well-established enterprise, business owners know the importance of relationships. Smart entrepreneurs initiate and nurture important relationships across the spectrum of their business. This includes employees, customers, operational partners, suppliers, lenders and others. Relationships built on trust and maintained with integrity often begin with networking and are likely to last longer and be more beneficial over the long haul. 

Regarding customer relationships specifically, entrepreneurs recognize and cherish their relationships with existing customers, knowing that investing in repeat customers is easier than cultivating new ones. 

Start Running Your Business

What’s left to do after taking these steps? Launch and start running your business. As simple as that sounds, entrepreneurs know that running a new business can bring new challenges every day. During this exciting time, it’s important to stay on the course established in your business plan. Track sales and marketing data right away and be sure to have the agility to make changes quickly if things aren’t going as planned. Remain focused with frequent reviews of your sales and marketing data, which may be monthly or quarterly to start, then less frequent as things become more well established. 

The key to growing, or scaling, your business will be to look at how things have changed since the initial plan was carved out, and how they have aligned with your initial projections. 

Have the Heart of an Entrepreneur?

If you thrive in an environment where each day brings new challenges in developing creative, results-oriented solutions, a career in entrepreneurship might be for you. 

At DeVry, we offer an MBA with a Specialization in Entrepreneurship that can help you build a foundation in many of the business and leadership skills you need to help get your new venture off the ground, or explore our Graduate Certificate in Entrepreneurship to complement the skills you already have as you work to advance your ambition as a small business owner. 

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