The whole idea of creating a “business plan” for a new venture or start-up business might seem a bit unnecessary. Not to mention, overly complex. Especially if you’re initially only planning on starting a one or two-person business. However, creating business plans for veteran entrepreneurs is almost as important as the final product.
In short, planning the important aspects of starting and running a business is necessary. It helps you realize what you need to know in order to be successful in the future.
For example, you might have a lot of technical expertize from your days in the military. But that doesn’t mean you know enough about marketing and advertising.
Perhaps you might consider yourself an expert on strategy. But you may still need help in turning all of your ideas into real financial projections.
With that in mind, here’s a brief step-by-step guide to building business plans for veteran entrepreneurs.
STEP #1: Describe what your company does and how it does it
This might seem like a time to use complex business jargon to make your company sound impressive. It isn’t. Instead, the goal should be to describe what your company does. In the simplest way, such that a small school child (or perhaps your grandmother) would grasp what you do.
Often, you can describe your business in terms of another, more familiar company. For example, you might describe your company as “the LinkedIn for military service members”.
Or, you might describe your company as “a Starbucks for veterans and active duty service members”.
That makes it very easy for someone who is new to your industry to understand what you do immediately.
STEP #2: Come up with a list of goals and objectives
Here’s where your big-picture, strategic thinking goals from the military can really pay off. In the military, you were probably used to thinking in terms of “missions”. And the best way to achieve that mission.
So you probably created a very easy-to-follow mission plan. One that all members of your team could follow. Well, you’re simply using that same thinking. However, now you’re transferring it to the business world.
In fact, most business startups make the idea of a “mission statement” one of the first things they do. They ask themselves what they want to achieve in the world. And why their company matters. From there, it’s possible to sketch out a list of goals and objectives.
STEP #3: Analyze the current competitive environment
The next step is to provide a brief outline your company and products. Business plans for veteran entrepreneurs should show how they fit into the current competitive landscape. Your goal might be to “disrupt” a traditional industry. So the aim here. Show why the current market competitors aren’t serving the real needs of consumers.
Or, a goal to show that you are appealing to a certain niche market that has not yet been served.
The niche market approach is one that is popular with veteran entrepreneurs. Often, that underserved niche involves members of the military.
For example, there are plenty of apps out there for your mobile phone. But how many of them are designed with military veterans in mind? You might show that you can reach 10-20% of the market that has not been fully served. Doing all this while developing a very loyal fan base.
STEP #4: Describe your competitive strengths
There are various ways that your new startup can stand out among rivals. It can compete on price, for example. And offer a product at a lower price point than rivals. Or it can compete on quality. Offering a product that is higher quality than that offered by the competition.
And, if you’re offering a new service. You can offer a service that’s faster than the competition. Take a look at FedEx. A company founded by Fred Smith, a military veteran. They started offering 24-hour delivery of packages and letters. The world has never been the same.
It seems like there is a constant rush to speed up the logistics chain. And make things available almost instantaneously. So, if your competitor offers 24-hour service. You offer “same-day” service. If your competitor offers “same-day” service. You offer “delivery before noon” service.
See? You’re competing on some factor that your rivals can’t – or won’t – offer.
STEP #5: Outline your marketing and sales strategy
The fifth step is to focus on sales and marketing. Even though marketing and sales are usually thought of as being the same thing. They are actually quite different.
Marketing refers to all the advertising and promotion that you use to tell customers about your business. For example, are you going to advertise your business using print and radio ads? Or are you going to use social media?
In contrast, sales refer to all the different channels and platforms for selling your product. In today’s digital world, it usually starts with a choice of whether or not to be an online business. From there, you have a choice of many different channels, platforms, and networks.
STEP #6: Detail your financial projections
At some point, you want to run a profitable business. So, by running all the numbers and creating financial projections. You are able to get much better insight into when (and how) your business is going to break-even.
Also when you are going to start making some serious coin. You can break out these financial projections quarterly or yearly.
STEP #7: Include some management bios
The “fun part” of business plans for veteran entrepreneurs is being able to tell people about yourself. At the end of a detailed plan. Most people include brief bios that help others understand why the business is going to be successful.
It pays to be selective here.
If you don’t have a lot of business experience. You can focus on relevant military experience. And if you don’t have relevant military experience. Focus on relevant academic experience that has helped you to create your business.
Summing up business plans for veteran entrepreneurs guide
And that’s basically it.
There’s some myth that business plans for veteran entrepreneurs need to be super-complicated. Even super-dense, running to 20 or 30 pages. That’s not the case at all.
In fact, if you check out the business plans of the most famous Internet companies. You’ll see that the line between “business plan” and “PowerPoint presentation” has blurred. The modern business plan is meant to be a good mix of facts and explanation. Combined with a very engaging presentation layer.
Think of the veteran entrepreneurs who appear on “Shark Tank” from time to time. The entrepreneurs who are most successful are the ones who have a good story. And on top of that, plenty of facts and numbers to back it all up.
That should be the goal of your business plan. It should look good, of course. But it should also have a lot of very important facts and figures. Capable of winning over investors and other potential stakeholders in your business.