Business plans have long been revered in the business community because it gives structure to the madness. It helps investors, partners, employees and other shareholders in the business to understand what your business is up to. A business plan is a stepping stone to create a business, get a loan or investment. They help you make hiring, buying and partnerships decisions. Business plans have existed for long and whether it is still relevant needs to be investigated.
Truth: It is 2018!!! We live on the internet!!!
This is the era in which we don’t need permission to be awesome. You don’t need a serial investor to tell whether your e-commerce idea will appeal to an audience. You can sell the product on FaceBook within minutes and see the traction for yourself. You can start selling on Amazon and eBay within few days of signing up as a partner. You can start an e-commerce business from any part of the world with a part-time remote working professional. You can start an online store with a month’s saving at your day job.
You don’t need an accountant anymore. Your e-commerce platform takes care of it.
You don’t need an inventory anymore. You can tie up with a drop shipper.
It is a volatile world. Technology, opportunities and marketing channels change every 6 months.
A business plan can be a distraction from the actual work. Which is building the actual business.
A business plan can show up as resistance.
You don’t need a developer anymore. Most e-commerce solutions are DIY online stores.
Above all, you don’t need a fat PDF document called the business plan just to get started.
Does that mean all business plans for starting an e-commerce business is worthless?
“Yes” and “But”.
Yes. You don’t need a business plan to get started with an online store.
But. You need to do business planning.
Business planning over business plan
You might have heard that “Plans are useless but planning is everything”. Business planning helps you in foreseeing future difficulties, roadblocks and challenges. It gives you an estimate of the resources needed, how your product looks like and who will buy it. You will understand what the idea and story your business is about and also have a framework to communicate the same with your peers and partners.
What is business planning about?
It is about elucidating the pain point – What is the problem you are solving? Why should customer’s care? How are you making a customer’s life happy? Good investors look how and how much your product or service is dedicated to solving a problem.
It is about creating a prototype – Having a prototype for the product or website gives your investors and peers a quick glance at what your business does. You can create this in few minutes by signing up for any top e-commerce solution and adding your inventory.
It is how you plan to outsmart and outdo your competition – Customers and Investors sniff out the “Me Too” business model quickly. Figuring out where you have an advantage over your competition and how you can leverage the same in marketing, inventory and supply chain can be a game changer. Your unique selling proposition is what will help people stick long term.
It is about how you will make your money – What makes your customer fill his credit card details? What are the various monetization channels you plan to explore? How, when and how much revenue or profit you plan to make?
It is a visual and lean document – Long documents are not read. Visual documents help readers consume information faster. It depicts clarity over your plans. Visual representations can be used in pitch decks for investors and partners.
Helpful resources for business planning
Starting and running any business is work and dedication. Business plans are great in its own way but it should not come in the way of selling. I will start selling after I get my business plan right is a seductive trap. If you are planning to launch an e-commerce store do your research on the niche, evaluate various product ideas and start off once you zero down on an idea. You can start off by selling on Amazon and Ebay for the initial rush of generating revenue. Test them out on Google shopping and then build your online store.