Having a structured plan is crucial for any small business. If you’re looking for a place to start, then check out these free business plan templates for small businesses.
These will guide you through the framework of creating a small business plan so that you can be sure to stay on track.
While there are many types of business plans available, I would suggest having one simplified version when starting out.
I’m sure many companies and business will disagree but what I found personally dealing with hundreds of small business every single week is, that the more complicated the plan is the easier it is NOT to follow.
The three main types of business plans.
There are three main plans you should be focusing on when you’re running an Australian small business.
This is even more important if you are a sole trader and have no staff as your time will be your most scarce resource.
A structured simple plan will save you countless hours spent on irrelevant tasks and activities. Having a plan will make sure you keep the main objective insight.
I’m not going into detail about how to write the plan as there’s a lot of great content online that goes into this in detail.
Instead, I will leave you with some free business plan templates for small businesses that are easy to follow.
I do, however, want to give you an outline of the three main types of planning you should be focusing on.
This is an overall plan and direction of the business with your number-one goal we discussed earlier to be the ultimate successful result.
Think about this as an elaboration of your ”vision statement” and then the formulation of a strategy to achieve it.
This plan is generally long-term and has large goals at set intervals such as a yearly basis.
Basically, these are the main things you want to achieve in your chosen market. If you need help with where to find market research check out my last post (here).
This is a plan of your daily, weekly and monthly activities that actually allow you to meet your strategic goals.
This is a much more short-term planning cycle and is usually a lot more flexible and adaptive.
Your operational plan should include things like hours worked training, stock control, etc.
This is also the plan that will play a crucial role in your time management and organization.
without a solid operational plan, you can find yourself quickly falling into bad habits and wasting precious resources on irrelevant tasks.
This is the cash flow in, and out of your business alongside any financial budgets used in day to day operations.
This must also include allocations for both fixed and variable costs, and any investments or money borrowed.
The Australian government has put together a structured template that you can use for free. They have even developed a guide to help you through it along with some information to give you tips on how to write a solid plan.
This is a single plan that covers all aspects of your business and incorporates the three main plan types mentioned earlier.
While I think, this is a great tool it may be too detailed for the sole trader or micro business owner, but you can just use what is relevant
Should you start an Australian Small Business? And where can you find market research?
What makes someone want to start an Australian small business and is it a powerful enough reason?
Do they have a great idea and think it will in itself be enough?
Maybe they find it hard to work for someone or perhaps just becoming wealthy is the motivation behind it.
Having a clear idea of what your business does is of course crucial.
What’s even more important, is why you want to operate it in the first place?
A single clear vision of what will inspire and motivate you, especially when you’re just starting out.
Don’t start a business to earn ”QUICK MONEY” And definitely do not do it for the ”LIFESTYLE”
Having goals like these are fine, but they are absolutely not going to help you succeed.
Goals like these should be viewed as only the “by-product” of a successful business and not the main focus.
In the beginning, you’re probably going to be working 70 plus hours a week (not much of a lifestyle).
Furthermore, depending upon the business you may not even make a profit for the first couple of years.
Have one main goal.
To stay truly motivated your end goal needs to be so important that allows you to keep pushing, no matter how tired or overwhelmed you are.
To simplify this you should have ONE main goal.
As an example, my target is financial independence by the age of 40 so that I can travel the world with my family.
This reason is so important to me, that every decision moving forward will be judged according to this goal. (this will make sense when we discuss the planning of your business).
According to a range of surveys, People start Australian small businesses for two main reasons.
The first is they want to be their own boss (55%)
The second is wanting to increase their income (41%)
Both noble goals to have but considering more than 60 percent of small businesses fail in the first three years (according to the Bureau of statistics) we as business owners need a stronger, clearer vision that is much more meaningful to us personally.
Understanding the Australian small business landscape and how to get free market research.
So I now assume you have a clear and highly motivating goal.
So what now?
It’s time to do some research.
If you’re going to be in business, you should understand the landscape of both your competitors and Customers.
This now brings me to the first free powerful resources you should be aware of,
If you are starting or already running an Australian small business, then the Bureau of statistics is a great free resource to help you understand your potential market.
Who are they?
If you’re not familiar with them, the Australian Bureau of statistics is our national statistic agency. They provide official statistics on a range of things from population to economic industry.
The ”ABS” collects data from a wide range of research papers, surveys and from what I understand they also use verified staff to collect data from various government departments.
Now, It’s not the most in-depth form of market research, but this will give you a broad idea and is certainly better than doing no research at all.
What to use the data for?
As an example, you might sell computers and want to know how many people in buying age live in your city. This will give you a rough idea of the customer pool, you can then calculate the amount of market penetration you need to be viable.
Use the data to understand what your average customer looks like and create a profile for them.
Another great resource for your Australian small business. Ibis world is the leader in market research and industry reports.
Who are they?
Ibis world has been operating since 1971 and is focused on Australia and NZ markets. They are a company that provides highly researched reports of over 700 Australian industries.
Just like the ”ABS” use the data to aid your business planning. Market penetration, Viability E.T.C.
This great resource is actually a paid service, Ibis world provides in-depth market data to businesses helping them understand their sector.
But guess what.
There is a section of data they provide FOR FREE.
Ibis world provides a free snapshot of Australian industries and while not very granular is a fantastic starting point.
Check out this example of the Australian food retail snapshot.
Use this data along with your own research to map out your market and create a customer profile.
Once you have an understanding of the landscape you will be operating in, its time to create an Australian Small Business plan. (check out our post on free Australian small business plans and templates.)
So, in summary, DO THE RESEARCH it will save you many headaches in the future.