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There are a number of ways you can identify this need, including research, focus groups, and even trial and error.
In fact, you can even create a working business plan on the back of a napkin, and improve it over time.
Some kind of plan in writing is always better than nothing.
Most likely you have already identified a business idea, so now it's time to balance it with a little reality. You will need to run your business idea through a validation process before you go any further.
In order for a small business to be successful, it must solve a problem, fulfill a need or offer something the market wants.
Starting a small business doesn't have to require a lot of money, but it will involve some initial investment as well as the ability to cover ongoing expenses before you are turning a profit.
How To Do A Small Business Plan
Put together a spreadsheet that estimates the one-time startup costs for your business (licenses and permits, equipment, legal fees, insurance, branding, market research, inventory, trademarking, grand opening events, property leases, etc.), as well as what you anticipate you will need to keep your business running for at least 12 months (rent, utilities, marketing and advertising, production, supplies, travel expenses, employee salaries, your own salary, etc.).
You may choose an initial business structure, and then reevaluate and change your structure as your business grows and needs change.
Depending on the complexity of your business, it may be worth investing in a consultation from an attorney or CPA to ensure you are making the right structure choice for your business.
Those numbers combined is the initial investment you will need.
Now that you have a rough number in mind, there are a number of ways you can fund your small business, including: You can also attempt to get your business off the ground by bootstrapping, using as little capital as necessary to start your business.