When starting a new business, experts agree that developing a viable business plan is an essential first step. So, what is a business plan, and why does a divorce services business (or any business, for that matter) need one?
Think of it as a roadmap to a desired destination – your path to a successful business venture. But more than just a roadmap, it entails something similar to the planning that goes into undertaking a road trip. Before you start your road trip, you will:
- assess where you are starting from
- plan where you want to go
- decide what you need to have with you for the trip
- plot a route to arrive at your goal
You decide who will be doing what – who will drive, who will navigate, what services you might need along the way. You might also have to stop off at the bank to get some funding for your journey before your departure.
A divorce services business plan is like the road trip plan and map, only the journey is a bit longer. It usually projects about 1-3 years out, and it defines the route you plan to take to reach your goals.
Like the analogy above, you begin with an assessment of where you are starting from, identify your goals, lay out what systems you need to have in place to embark on this venture, name who will be doing what in your company, describe what services you will need (vendors, office help or virtual assistant, marketing service, etc.), and outline an action plan to achieve your goals. And you might need to get some funding if you haven’t got the necessary resources already saved up. If this is the case, then having a business plan to show the loan officer or potential investors is absolutely essential.
There are many other reasons, besides having something to show lenders or investors, for having a well-thought-out divorce services business plan. Some advantages are –
- It helps you to organize your efforts so you are more in control.
- It helps you to think objectively about the elements of your business.
- It helps you make better decisions.
- It can uncover weaknesses and/or omissions in your business plans.
- You can use it to solicit opinions and advice from others, gaining the benefit of their experience and expertise.
Whether you are just starting your business, or have been in business for awhile but neglected to develop a real business plan on paper, writing out your business plan is an important step to being successful. So, what does a business plan document look like?
You can find lots of different templates on the Internet to model, and can customize one to your particular situation. Most of them generally include the following sections –
Detail a brief summary of the important points of your business plan.
Provides information on what your business does, the markets it serves, and what differentiates you from other similar businesses. Also includes general facts such as your business structure and business location.
Products and/or Services
Tell the story of your service. What do you offer? What is the benefit to your customer? Why is your service needed?
Reports on your research and analysis of who your target customers are and their demographics, your business industry, your competitors, and your strengths.
Marketing and Sales Strategies
Outlines how you plan to market your business, what your sales strategy is, and sales forecasts.
Organization and Management
Details how your business is structured as an organization, and how it will operate.
Provide an overview of financial projections, cash flow analysis, etc.
However, if you don’t need financing from a bank, and you want something simpler to start off with, I recommend The One Page Business Plan by Jim Horan, available in bookstores and online. It’s a simple one-page plan, and doesn’t get into areas such as your competition and projecting financial data. But if you take some time to work through the exercises in the book, it can really help you build a plan based on your vision and set you on the path to your goals. The components of this plan are –
For further help, your local Small Business Administration (SBA) offices offer seminars on writing business plans. Or, if you join the Divorce With Dignity Network, we work with you to develop your business plan during your training, and then support you with monthly coaching calls to keep you accountable and on track. Visit our websitePeacefulDivorceBusiness.Com to learn more about how joining our Network of divorce services business professionals can help you on your road to success!