Do you need a mini business plan?

I add the word ‘mini’ before business plan because I think a personal or mini business plan is important for anyone wanting to work for themselves, start a part time or ‘side gig’ business, expand a current small business venture, etc. Typically, if you want funding for a larger start up you must submit a business plan, so I have downsized the larger multiple page document to fit into a personal sort of mission statement for anyone wanting to (or simply thinking about) starting a small business, earn some extra money with the creative professional talents you have or explore the BIPs I’ve previously published on this same blog!

Benefits of a Mini Business plan: A mini business plan can help you even if you are not asking for funding to build your business. It’s a good opportunity to fully grasp what your idea for a business will look like, confirm it’s what you want, and help you take the steps to achieve it. Most small businesses start without large expenses, but if you are requesting funding, this will help you with the basics and prepare for the professional business plan you may need to present to lenders, funding sources, etc.

Grab a notebook or create an electronic document and keep all of this information in one place, along with notes, advertising ideas, goals, etc. Your notebook/electronic file is a good place to keep all receipts related to your business including mileage (if applicable) and other forms, and general information. This will be a ‘living’ document/notebook; ideas will expand, etc. and you need to capture those thoughts on ‘paper’.

Below is a basic mini plan outline. I will provide a mini plan example in a future post as an additional resource.  If you have any questions please contact me!

Executive Summary – This is the first basic section of any type of business plan. Once you have an idea swirling around your head, you’ll want to write your executive summary. Even if you don’t complete the next sections, this is typically the most important for anyone at the start of planning a business. This section will allow you to explore what you want to do, how to do it, and if it’s really what you want. It is your opportunity to shine and describe your focus well. Typically, it’s about a half page (up to a full page). The main reason for this section is to explain your idea; what is it, who will need/want it, what makes it unique or in demand. Include the company name and a one sentence mission statement if you have one A mission statement is typically a brief definition of your business/idea.

Company overview – This is for company goals and to find out which business type you want; sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Corp (LLC), etc. these will be defined in an upcoming post labeled Types of businesses. Since you may not be ready to define your business type, don’t dwell on this section, just make a note that you may need to define it at some point in the future. Include an overview of marketing ideas and and business goals. Include a brief statement on expenses, and what costs are required up front to get started. Explain how you could expand the business; a brief statement about future growth. Include any experience you have with this idea and any experience with business in general including achievements and goals met (if any). Remember, this is all for your eyes only right now, to encourage you to turn that thought of a side business into possible reality!

Market Research outcome – Overview of the industry in general and research results of  competitors, give details of customers interested in your services (demographics, etc.), highlight the market strengths and weaknesses in general (nation and world wide) and focus on the same for local competitors. Include any statistics you can find on this particular market/idea/business.

Product/Service Description – Focus on what your service is and how it will benefit the client. You can start including projected net revenue information and details about vendors you will purchase supplies from. You can add graphs and diagrams here if feel it will better help explain this section. Touch base on competition and why you are different or plan to excel even with competition out there. I find reading reviews of customers about similar businesses can help you see what is working and what is not.

Highlight ideas to expand products or services; give more details than before and how often you can provide this service to each client (can you do repeat business?). This is an opportunity to show your unique twist on an existing market (do you have a unique skill, unique target audience or additional service to combine with it, etc.?).

Marketing Plan – This section is to give details of the operation; purchasing supplies, marketing to clients, list of services or products provided, ideas for following up with clients, and specific details of word of mouth and repeat customer options. Explain how you will find customers; details of how to reach out to them, advertising options, and costs. Include promotion ideas and pricing, email or flyer campaign ideas, etc.  Include the days and hours you plan to operate. Again, some of this may not apply right now, don’t dwell on the details, until you find it necessary as your business idea grows!

Organizational chart – If you plan on having employees you will want to detail why, who and what they will bring to the company; their skills, etc. Explain why a certain person is experienced and skilled to be in a certain position. If you can provide the service or product by yourself describe why and how.

Financial Section – This section will give you an idea of what the start up will cost with possible profit. Write out a complete list and cost of materials, hours it will take to complete each job, number of people and pay for each ’employee’ (or yourself), recurring expenses, up front equipment expenses and maintenance, etc. Once you have this, you will have a base price for your services to just break even, so it will help you determine what to charge. For professional plans you will need to outline your budget in details listing assets, cash flow chart, expenses, current profit, expected profit, etc.

This may seem overwhelming, but allow it to be a focus catalyst. This is a large step toward taking your idea seriously! This makes it real, not just a dream floating around. The executive summary provides you with concrete details and confirmation it’s the right business for you. Some people will decide to change their focus once they write it out and see the time restraints or spend time researching competition and end up finding another focus they feel more comfortable with. Others will be even more determined and inspired by seeing it on paper, knowing it’s what they want to do.

What’s your idea or business plan? Let me know!

Are you struggling to come up with an idea, but want to start a business? Visit the Business Idea Prompts (BIPs) listed throughout this blog. The prompts provide detailed business ideas with specifics on how to turn a hobby into a part time or full time business! Marketing and additional information to get started and grow are included!

Thank you for reading and again, please contact me if you have any questions!


The first BIP – Business Idea Prompt

Please see the Business Idea page for information behind my BIP posts!

Here is the first Idea – and even though I have never canned any food in my life, I get so excited about this opportunity! I hope you do too. I hope you enjoy it!

Business Idea Prompt (BIP)– House-call Canning (as in canning food)

Details – More and more individuals are growing their own food, even in small urban settings. This idea is to make canning house calls to help people with gardens preserve (can) the fruits of their labor (pun intended). You can provide actual canning of their vegetables in their own kitchen, freeing them up for other activities and providing preserved food for the coming months. Or teach them how to can in the comfort of their own home; turn it into a canning party with their family and friends. Teaching provides a lifelong skill! This is a service that saves customers time, eliminates wasted food and gives the customers another option rather than giving grocery bags full of tomatoes to coworkers and neighbors!

Experience/Skills Needed – You need to enjoy and have knowledge of gardening, canning, an interest in canned foods, and enjoy sharing your skills with others. You must know food safety! This is a skill you can learn through books from the library, online videos, practice, etc., but food safety is TOP priority. Supplies;  jars, lids, pan(s), other canning items as needed. It should not be a huge investment; you may already have some supplies! This is a business that can be started while working a full time job, as additional income or eventually turning into full time. Here is a good resource for a tutorial on canning.

Marketing – Market to customers as a time saving, in home skill to learn, and less food wasted. Assure customers that they will be able to enjoy more of their garden goodness, and it’s a fun way to spend time with friends by turning it into a party! Share your experience and get the customer as excited as you are (excitement spreads fast and gets customers interested quickly!) Create pre-printed labels to put on the finished product jars with your contact information and a blank space to write what the ingredients are once finished. When setting up the in home visit ask what foods you will can and provide personalized recipes made from the canned ingredients (on recipe cards with your contact info included). You can even hand pick your customers; drive around and personally knock on the doors of those with gardens, hand out flyers or business cards offering your services. Share business cards with vendors and customers at farmer’s markets, display flyers on community boards at your local library, and share on social media! This could easily be a service promoted at craft shows, farmers markets, etc. by setting up a table and displaying decorated jars and lids for sale and introduce your canning business by handing out business cards. Follow up with customers each new year to offer your service and develop repeat-customer relationships.

Research – Price materials; canning supplies, labels, time, gas to drive to and from locations, marketing (flyers business cards, etc.). This will give you an idea of what you need to break even. Put a rate on your time per hour, choose a minimum number of hours and set your rate. This could be priced similar to landscaping, yard work, house cleaning, etc. as an hourly rate. Ask friends and community members what they would pay for this service, or give them prices and ask if that is reasonable to them as a consumer.

Bonus idea – This could easily grow into a larger business and the need to rent a space to provide the classes to groups at your own location! Or rent a kitchen one day a month. You’d just need a large open space, a few stove tops, a couple sinks, tables, label maker, jars, lids, pots, and there you have a growing business!

As with any business please check local and state guidelines to see what licenses, name registering, and other requirements may be needed (I’m working on a future article to help guide you through this!). And of course, I’m not a professional ‘canner’ so I recommend becoming extremely familiar with food safety before starting this type of business.