To succeed at anything you must first have a plan, a goal a point at which to aim at. If you want to succeed in business, we want to see your Business Plan!
Welcome to Module 3 of the series, How to Start a Market Stall. If you haven’t been following or have just arrived at this lesson, great. Really pleased to have you along.
Module three is about getting your ducks in a row before you step out onto the Market floor. Having a plan of where you are going and what you hope to achieve is the key to being successful – BUT – it is far more important than that!
It is also your encouragement too.
In this lesson we are going to look at why you need a plan, How you can use it and How to start writing one.
Why do I Need a Business Plan?
Good question. After all you are only going to be selling a few items from a stall every weekend. What’s the big deal.
I guess at it most basic level, your overall plan will serve to pull you through when times get a little tough or when you are feeling a little despondent about the whole Market Stall life.
You are travelling from here to there, meeting with people and talking to them everyday. Some days no one turns up and other days you just don’t have enough motivation to feed the fish in the gold-fish bowl!
The business plan will help you focus your attention so that you are clear about what it is you are doing and where you are going.
It’s a Commitment
When you write a business plan you are committing. Committing to your idea that it is worth putting time and energy into it. You are saying to yourself, “I think my idea is valuable and I can see it developing into something.”
While writing your business plan you will discover what you are committing too. What you will be giving up in order to achieve your dreams and ambitions.
When it is done, you have a document that you can say, this is where I need to start from. Let’s go.
It is Research
The business plan isn’t just a nice fluffy document that explains how you are going to start and grow your market stall and business. It is research into how you are going to survive in the marketplace.
You will discover that there is normally a honeymoon period and then a quiet period. You need to plan to keep evolving to be at the edge of your business to compete.
There are seasons and trends that you need to plan for in advance. It is not good enough just ride the wave. You’ll discover that you need certain resources and have to outlay startup capital.
Discover the Competition
In your business plan you will also be uncovering your competition. Of course we all think we have an original idea, but truth be told there will be something similar to your idea out there.
How are you going to be different? What are you going to do that makes your product stand out from the crowd? Can you even work with your competitors to improve your own business?
When engaging with your competitors, you are discovering the reality of your business yourself. You are saying to yourself – I can see the playing field ahead of me and I am ready to play on it.
See the Obstacles Ahead
The above is really about noticing the obstacles before you. This is not just about showing how difficult you may find the start-up of a new business, but it is also about preparation. You don’t go to a race without being prepared.
If Usain Bolt turned up to the Olympics with boots and jeans on and then realised everyone else was prepared to race and he wasn’t even dressed yet, doesn’t matter if he is the fastest in the world, being unprepared will slow him down and ultimately lose him the race.
The same is true for you. To see as much of the horizon as possible, but also see all the potholes along the way, will prepare you for the best start you can make.
Factoring in the Future
You cannot start everything at once. That is for sure. Market Nosh was formulated in my head at 3am in the morning a year ago and it has taken till now to progress the idea this far. I needed to build a site, develop posts and start the course.
I visit locations and have a social media plan. Recently I just launched The Market Nosh Show podcast, and the future holds more, yet it has taken planning to maintain this development.
Of course we cannot see the future, but we can see signs which will point us in the right direction for the short-term. Look to the next 3-5 years. Where is this going to take you? What are my objectives? Will I expand and when?
The sign for social media is blazing bright and your business plan should have some form of marketing strategy penned on paper.
Your cost of materials may rise, transport costs, wear and tear, not to mention market changes and people’s tastes.
Create a statement that sums up your business in one sentence. Consider this the elevator pitch.
The elevator pitch is where you get into a lift with someone you want to sell to, and you have only the time between them pushing for their floor and the ride till they get out to ‘sell’ your idea.
They must be clear what your business does and how it is useful. Think of it as a 10 – 30 sec window of opportunity.
Market Nosh’s business Statement is:
The BEST Resource on the web to help you start and run your market stall business. Offering real life experiences, interviews and reviews from the marketplace.
Finally, if you are thinking about raising some capital for your startup, then you are going to need a clear business plan. Your backer, whether it be the bank or a family member will want to see clearly how you are going to use their money and the way you intend to pay it back.
This point is deliberately last though, and although some might argue it should be first on the list, I would say that you need to be clear in your own mind before you set about asking others for assistance.
The business plan written for financial backing alone, tends to show your plan in a favourable light, but examining the ideas before this first, will allow you to craft a Business Plan that seems inevitably probable to succeed.
Creating a business plan that shows your adaptability and thinking is paramount. Create three scenarios that shows how your business will react to the best possible outcome, a more realistic world view and one where it goes disastrously wrong.
Nothing is certain in the world and neither is your business, but understanding that and knowing how you are going to adapt to changes is better than having all the startup books in the world!
Know your Numbers
When you begin to write out the numbers, be prepared for hard truths. How much something sells for, the realistic values, your returns and forecasts. What are your projections for the year and in year two?
When you write your plan out like this you are confronting the elephant in the room. Where idea meets reality.
If you cannot produce revenue, you do not have a business. If you cannot pay back what you pay in, you do not have a business. If you cannot pay yourself some sort of salary, you will hate your business.
Know your numbers and be prepared.
How to Use Your Business Plan
The business plan once made is not a document you then put in a glass box and never use again. It is a working document, an evaluation tool and a way of readjusting your goals and objectives inline with reality and experience.
The Ultimate Evaluation Tool
When you create your business plan you are in effect creating the best tool by which you can evaluate your progress. You can measure your success by the way you wrote out your plan and in the way you succeed or failed.
If you planned to be generating revenue and you aren’t, you can go back and see what your plan was forecasting and be able to explain where the discrepancy between them lies.
By following your business plan, you will be able to take on staff, or develop new ideas for your business and be able to evaluate them. It is a way of keeping you focussed.
Update your Business Plan
The business plan is not a once off document. It should be adjusted at the very least every month to reflect how you are progressing and whether your aims and objectives are changing.
Day-to-day there will be little increments of change that may require you to update your business plan. There may be a world shortage of a product you use and you need to source it else where or change the way your create something.
Keep the business plan updated and alive and you will also be keeping your finger on the pulse of your business.
…and yes I know you are thinking, “But Maurice, it is only a market stall!” It is and this market stall is your hard work, time and energy. You are devoting your life to building it and being there.
If you have any value in your life, then you will also value the time you devote to your business or market stall and being certain to use it the best way possible is to make the most of the time you have in your life! (Phew going a bit philosophical there, moving on…)
Useful to Suppliers
When you are starting out it can be difficult to sometimes get suppliers on board with you. Having your plan ready to discuss and show them what your intended ideas are will generate confidence in your abilities to plan and manage your business.
Use this as your mark that you are on track, you have the idea of what you want to achieve and where you are going.
If a supplier chooses to not supply you, explain that they are losing out to a competitor and take your business some where else. You have the business and the plan. Use it effectively!
Measure your Forecast Vs Actual Sales
The business plan holds what you forecast at the start. After you have been trading for a few months you will have actual sales figures that can be used to measure against your forecast. Being able to see this variance will allow you adjust your business plan and also show how you are doing.
After a year of actual sales you will be able to show a real forecast for the next year based on previous real figures and what you plan to achieve month by month.
A Business Plan is NEVER Complete
To be effective the business plan must be continually adjusted. This allows you to see clearly the state of your business and how you need to progress.
There is also one other important lesson here too. Your plan is not complete because the future is only forecast. As you progress yearly, you may need to readjust your plan to alter the direction of your business to capitalise on the market trends or risk losing it all because you were not adaptable.
The business plan is there to keep you focussed and on track, but equally it is about directing you to a better future.
How to Start Your Business Plan
You only need to Google, Bing or Safari to find that there are thousands of free business plans available for you to use and get started. So I won’t be teaching you to suck eggs. What I do want to suggest is that when you find a business plan you like make sure it addresses these main points:
1. Market Landscape
Make sure you are addressing what the landscape looks like within your business. If you are selling plastic bobbins for teaspoons, make sure you know where your business fits in.
2. Risks and Opportunities
Face the risks to your business head on. Show the opportunities available.
3. Set your Goals
List one to two main goals that you are going to achieve. Then break them down into smaller objectives, making them as clear and specific as you can. (See Goal Setting for the Future Market Trader for help)
4. Marketing Strategies
How will you market your business to drive sales to improve your bottom line. This is where your numbers come in. Show what your forecasts might be based on this marketing strategy.
How much will you budget for in the first year, month, week. Can you spread the costs over the year to achieve your goals?
What controls will you put in place to make sure you are on track to achieve your targets?
Your business plan will be the heart beat monitor of your business, you being the heart! As you do something your monitor should show your progress and your overall progress.
Get the business plan right at the start and then adjust from there. There is a saying which goes, “Fail to plan, you plan to fail”, and although not entirely true of every startup, your business plan will go a long way to getting you started in the right direction.
Discuss these ideas and ask for help in the Market Nosh Costers, Facebook Group aimed at helping the community of traders develop their skills and business. If you have the time, like the Market Nosh Facebook Page. It really helps raise the profile and other traders too. If you do, thanks.
- Why is a business plan for?
- How can you use a business plan to make progress?
- How does knowing the risks in your business, help to make you a better business owner?