Plan Your Business

Five business people standing on stage

A plan in your head is good. A plan on paper is even better. Having a complete business plan will help you steer your business as you start and grow.

Two people going over charts

Create the framework of your business by putting together a detailed business plan

A business plan is a written tool about your business’s future. This working document identifies goals for your business’s next 3-5 years, along with how you plan to accomplish these goals.

The Small Business Administration compares a business plan to a GPS; it helps you get your business going to where it needs to be. A good business plan will get you through each stage of your business, from start, growth and development. It will help you take a step back and think objectively about your business’s key elements and informs your decision making as you move forward.

Your business plan is also used externally, as it is the tool used to persuade others that working with you (or investing in your business) is a smart decision. Most investors require a business plan to even be considered for funding.

There’s no wrong way to write a business plan. Keep it simple by breaking your plan down into mini-plans – one for sales and marketing, one for pricing, etc. To begin writing your business plan, review a sample outline or talk to a business planning counselor on NWI BizHub Resource Navigator.

Outline for Building Your Business Plan (U.S. Small Business Administration)

Business Plan Outline (SCORE)

Two hands and a business card

Come up with a good business name, make sure it isn’t already taken

Take the time to get it right from the start. Your business name should be brandable and connect with what your business does. Having the wrong business name can severely hurt your business. Before you begin brainstorming business names, review naming tips from the experts.

12 Tips For Naming Your Startup Business (Forbes)

7 Tips for Naming Your Business (Entrepreneur)

Once you have a potential business name, it is important to verify the name is available. If not, you could subject yourself to severe business and legal hurdles. Visit the Indiana Secretary of State website’s Check Name Availability Search.

Six hands together as a team

Form your startup team (if applicable)

If you will be needing a startup team for your new business it is important to find the right team that fits your business needs. Finding the perfect startup team might look different than a traditional new hire. Read best practices on finding your perfect startup team:

What Makes Great Startup Teams, and How to Find It (Forbes)

Five Ways to Find the Right Business Partner (Inc.)

Have you thought about what aspects of your business will be outsourced? While we like to think we can do it all, outsourcing can be very valuable to your small business. Wise outsourcing can provide a number of long-term benefits, including: control of capital costs, increase efficiency, reduce risk, and provide more time for you to focus on the core of your business. To help you start thinking about outsourcing, take a look at Five Things Small Businesses Should Outsource.

Hand holding a lightbulb

Develop a marketing plan

A complete marketing plan is a vital piece of your new business. This plan focuses on attracting and retaining customers. A well-developed marketing plan will identify the tools and tactics you will use to achieve your sales goals, along with your plan of action to generate leads that will turn into sales.

Unlike a business plan, a traditional marketing plan does not need to be lengthy or written with professional elements. Use bulleted sections to clearly identify your point. To get started, get some ideas from the experts by reviewing the articles below or talk to a marketing counselor on NWI BizHub Resource Navigator.

26 Ideas for Your 2020 Small Business Marketing Strategy (HubSpot)

The Ingredients of a Marketing Plan (Entrepreneur)

Man facing money questions

Identify sources of financing

It is important to know where you will obtain necessary financing; there are many avenues a business owner can take to receive funding. Refer to the financing section of the website for more information.

We’re here to help – Let’s work together!

Guide: Start a Business