By now, you may have chosen the direction of your business, or you might still be figuring out what area of focus seems to suit you. Regardless of which area of cleaning you choose to specialize in, there is one thing that you will definitely need: a business plan. That may sound simple enough, but where do you even begin to start when you are building your business up from scratch?
Why Do You Need a Business Plan?
Can't you just get the ball rolling and deal with things as they pop up along the way? Why not, right? Well the answer is pretty straightforward: without a business plan, your business most likely will never thrive or expand. The proper business plan will be the foundation of your very own business, and it should be solid enough to push you on to success.
Take a look at the cleaning industry right now. This industry is booming, and it continue to grow larger still. There are corporations and even small businesses that own the market, so as a new fish in this large pond, how can you expect to jump right in and start making profit? You have to prepare for the setbacks and devise a plan for how to take on competition in this thriving industry.
How Do You Begin to Write a Business Plan?
One approach you can take is to hire a consultant, and although this may cost you some extra money, it is a valuable resource to have if you are inexperienced in business. This is not the only path you can take, however, because it is entirely possible for you to write the business plan on your own. All you need to do is learn the basics, research the specifics, and look around at other business plans if you need a general idea of how they work. First, take a look at some of the aspects that are important to include in your business plan:
- General Business Idea
1. What services will your business offer specifically? How much will you narrow your focus within the area of service you have chosen? For example, if you have chosen to focus on a pressure cleaning business, you might choose only to clean concrete floors and walls, rather than taking on any request. Alternatively, perhaps you're the opposite, and you are choosing not to narrow your focus but rather open your doors to any customer request. Just make sure that you are prepared with the proper equipment and employees to cover and services that you do choose to offer.
2. This area of your business plan will explain how your business will fit into the industry. Why might customers be looking for a business like yours? How do you think your business can meet the demand? Explore what customers are looking for today, and what your business has to offer that the competition doesn't. Including a summary of the intentions and concept of your business will help you stay on track and remain focused as your business grows and expands.
3. What are your business goals? Not just financially or long-term, but also short-term goals, such as providing each customer with quality service at reasonable prices. Lay down in writing what you plan to achieve with the service you are offering. With clear goals as the cornerstone of your business, you can train each new employee to keep those goals at the forefront of their mind while working for you.
4. What characteristics will set your business apart? What do expect from any worker you hire? Perhaps you value respect and trustworthiness, as well as the capability to get the job done efficiently. Hold your employees to the standard that you seek, and that standard of quality will be reflected on your business as well. Your customers will want quality, and you should strive to deliver that to help your business succeed.
- Analysis of the Current Industry
1. Research the industry of the business you are looking to start before you jump in headfirst. You may have already written up a plan about how your business will fit into the industry, but look into the financial aspects of the industry and determine whether there is room for you to expand and grow your business. Has the specific industryInterested in learning more? Why not take an online Starting Your Own Cleaning Business course?
2. Don't forget to localize your research as well. Perhaps one specific industry is booming in the country as a whole, but doesn't really have a demand in your local area. You won't make it far if people nearby aren't looking for your services.
3. Look at how the industry changes as society changes, such as how a rise in the real estate market can lead to a rise in the cleaning industry. If you see this rise of your specialized field as only being temporary, perhaps consider something that shows to be a little more long lasting.
- Choose Your Market
1. Whom will you customers be that you market your business to? Will your business be more directed at residential clients or commercial clients? You may have a specific niche that you choose as your target customers, and this decision will shape the choice you make with marketing. Depending on the type of cleaning service that you offer, there may be a larger demand in a specific client-base, so be sure to look in to where the demand is currently. For example, if you're starting a window cleaning service, you may choose to market to schools, restaurants, hospitals, and other commercial spaces.
2. Take into consideration your number of employees and resources. If you decide to market your business to schools, restaurants, or other large commercial properties, you need to be sure that you have enough employees and equipment to get the job done efficiently and consistently. Don't overcommit if your business is not large enough yet. Start with a reasonable size commitment and focus on delivering quality service even to the smallest client. As your business and reputation build, you will then have the finances and resources to take on the larger, higher-paying clients.
- Marketing Strategies
1. What is the primary goal of your marketing strategy? You need to analyze how you will reach customers in order for your business to thrive and succeed. How do you hope customers will react to your marketing strategy? Determine if you will have a small team working on the marketing in order to have a variety of fresh ideas, rather than just the ideas of one or two people. Figure out where you will implement these strategies, and through what medium (newspaper, flyers, online, TV, etc.).
2. What are your sales tactics for beating out the competition? Are you willing to lower prices or offer deals in order to win over a customer? Determine where to draw the line in how far you will go to win a customer, so you don't end up underselling yourself and losing money just for one single customer. Prove yourself through quality service, consistency, and honesty.
3. How will you approach publicity and advertising? Will you be in charge of that solely, or will you put somebody else in charge of that? Take into account the power of social media in today's society, and figure out whether it is in your best interest to hire a social media manager or even run multiple accounts yourself.
- Manufacturers and Supplies
1. You may already have a contract with a manufacturer, or you may still be trying to determine the most cost-efficient way to get bulk supplies. Regardless, you can include a spot for this in your business plan so that you address the topic and start working on how you will get it done.
- Financial Start-Up
1. Where will your start-up funds be coming from, and where will these funds be distributed? How much will you budget towards certain areas, such as marketing, equipment costs, and employee salaries? Will this start-up fund cover the cost of company vehicles or uniforms; should you choose to incorporate those as a part of your business?
2. Write out the actual numbers that you are working with and how much will be necessary to cover all of these separate costs. This can help you see where you are lacking, or if you need to raise more finances before starting your business.
3. Further exploration of this topic will be covered in the next couple of chapters.
- Office Set-Up
1. Where will you maintain and keep up with office matters, such as customer contracts and financial matters? Keeping up with an office space that can meet expectations of customers may require additional equipment such as a printer, fax machine, separate phone line, and a reliable PC. If you plan to have all of these resources, figure out how you will get the funds to do so and where you will set up your office space. You might lease an actual office space or just set up in your home, but be sure to maintain a professional quality to it. Organization and efficiency are key to making the most out of your business, and a well put-together office set-up can make all the difference.
- Personnel Plan
1. This covers everything from individual salaries to benefits for full-time workers. What plans do you have for long-term employees in terms of raises or promotions? How much training and preparation will you require of each employee you hire? You might write in here how you plan to run the hiring process, and how you will go about ensuring the trustworthiness of each employee.
- Projection of Profit and Loss
1. Based on the current market, your tactics, and the prices you have set, you may be able to draw up a rough summary and chart of where you see your business heading. How long will it take for you to break even and start making a profit? In what areas or circumstances might your business suffer loss, and how are you prepared to deal with that setback? For a detailed and professional projection chart, you can contact an expert for guidance.
Once you have all the parts to your business plan, there are many benefits you get just from having this information all put together. Just a couple of the many benefits are listed below:
- Seek Investors - If you need financial assistance to get your business started, then investors may be the way to go. In order to make this happen, however, potential investors will want to see a business plan. Without it, they have no way of telling whether or not your business is worth their money. Once they have the accessibility to view your plans and current situation, they can better assess whether or not this is something they are interested in. They will expect your plan to cover all of the points above, so be sure to cover all the bases and provide them with substantial information about your plan to succeed.
- Watch Your Business Grow - A solid business plan is the best way to help your business grow to its full potential. By strategizing, you will learn to manage priorities, assign organizational responsibilities, and track your progress. All of these benefits are valuable assets to help you nurture the growth of your business, rather than just sitting back and seeing what happens.
- Give Re-Sell Value to Your Business - If you plan to sell your business later on, then having a business plan can be a huge benefit with this. It creates a clear guide to potential buyers of the worth and direction of your business, and can help them understand what potential your business holds. Buyers will want to see a business plan so that they can know what they will be taking responsibility for if they do choose to buy you out.2
This plan is your blueprint for staring and operating your new cleaning business. If there are any other aspects not included on this list that you feel could be beneficial to plan out, then don't hesitate to include those aspects in your plan. This plan can help you make day-to-day business plans, see how your financial situation might play out, and create a business goal you can stick with.
Hiring an experienced consultant may help you make sure that your business plan is foolproof and precise, but as you can see, it is possible to accomplish on your own with just a bit of dedication. If you are going into this business with a colleague, be sure to work on the business plan together, or at least both approve it, so that you know you are on the same page.
This is another major reason why having a business plan is so crucial, in order to ensure that there are no bumps down the road when something comes up and you don't realize until then that you don't agree with the business approaches of your co-owner. Lay out all of the potential issues before you start your business and address how you would like to handle them. Once you reach an agreement or a middle ground, write it in the business plan for future reference and guidance. This can help you tackle the issues that arise with more ease than if you weren't prepared at all, and also help you enter the business world with confidence.
You may just be starting out small, but a business plan can help you get to where you want to be. Simply by laying out all the details, you can see what areas are lacking in planning and funding, and work to fix those gaps before larger issues arise from them.