Ways To Plan and Fundraise for a Startup at College
By Allison Ret
Looking at three key factors to consider when writing your first business plan.
The energy a startup company has can be infectious. Something that was just an idea months ago has now become a real life opportunity and it’s exciting. It’s hard not get carried away and run with every possibility that is coming. So before things start going it’s crucial to come out with a written business plan for your company.
When I started my own company a little less than a year ago I was thrilled with the way things were going. People from all different backgrounds were genuinely showing an interest in my product and giving me the validation I was looking for. As a way to gain financing, I entered the New York State Business Plan competition a “...collegiate business plan competition that is a regionally coordinated, collaborative, statewide program. With over $500,000 in prizes annually, it is one of the largest collegiate business plan competitions in the world.” To enter the regional competition I had to submit my business plan in written form and then present it to a panel of judges.
Before I even started running with my idea I was required to sit down and really think about where I wanted this to go and all the external factors that would also play a role in my success. Even though every business plan will look different there are a few key factors to consider when writing your own. Below is not every single detail that should be included however three of the highlights.
The business or company description is in short terms a business overview. This section should include the most important parts of the company. Here is listed the name of the company, the location, and if you plan for these things to change. Then what the company is selling, who it is selling to, the type of operation, and what makes you competitive amongst others or even if there are others. Some companies choose to split these categories up or just include it all into one “Business Description” depending on how long these responses are. The business description should also include how you will be profitable. What kind of costs will you incur and how will your price reflect how the product has gone through many stages. Depending on the company this description could be, a few paragraphs to thirty pages.
Sales and Marketing
Developing your own personal brand and selling to your customers is the way to turn a profit. Often now in days, this is through various different social media outlets and outstanding customer service. When customers are in a store or on your website this includes making the shopping process flawless, and informative and assisting when customers are not satisfied. Running ad’s, tracking them and informing about your product is a way to drive and convert leads into clients. A big part of the marketing plan could be offering a CTA or Call to Action by offering a free consultation, or first-time discount. A marketing plan can solely be ten to twenty pages however briefly touching on your goals in your business plan will help achieve higher goals. Sales and Marketing are often viewed separate, however, to be seeing the best possible results they should be working together to attain the same objective.
The financial summary is the most crucial part aside from the product or service especially if the company is trying to raise capital. Figuring out the overall financial status (if any) and cash flow at the end of each month will show where the company is and how far or little it has to come. Also coming up with projections for the company will help gain financing whether that is for the next year or five. This part may be the most mundane, however, there’s no need to explain how significant this is.
Developing a business plan will set your company up for success. With a plan that everyone in the company is on the same page with its very easy to set goals and create a brand and company culture. This is the first step of a hundred before things get moving, however, by making this plan you’ll be able to see a lot of how the company grows, changes, and expands.
Photo by Andrew Neel