We are roughly 2 months away from concluding the year 2020. What an eventful year it has been; lots of lessons and lots of experiences. As we gradually drift towards the festive season many are hung up on how much fun they are going to have. I want you to think differently though; start planning how you will start your business idea in 2021. Do you know that some businesses start planning for the upcoming year at the beginning of the final quarter of the current year? So far we have covered one month of the final quarter but it is still a good place to start planning.

Why Most Business Plans Fail

Did you know that one of the biggest reasons why business plans fail is lack of research? There are so many things that you will only know once you have done thorough research. Do you know why most businesses fail? Well, it is because they come up with a business whose product(s) no one really needs i.e. no market. How does one end up like this? It is because they made assumptions or were over-excited that their business idea was going to hit it off. The reason why I am saying this is that now is the time to conduct your research. Gather information that will help you guide your steps based on irrefutable evidence.

Your 5-Step Plan

I am going to discuss simple steps that you can take starting now. These are things you should start doing immediately so that by the time 2021 starts you will be set.

Have Strategic Discussions With Strategic People

If it is possible, strike up conversations with people who might share priceless insights with you. It could be entrepreneurs already running businesses within your respective domain of interest. It could be thought leaders in that industry. For instance, you can even talk to business and finance writers like myself – there is a wealth of things that we know. Do not forget about friends and family they can give you rich details about your business idea. They can even be strategic events that you can attend to learn some things. Lately I have noticed that there are so many digital meetings, workshops, seminars, and the like, accessible for free. They are mostly conducted on WhatsApp or Zoom; take advantage of them. If there are any that appeal to your area of interest, go for them.

Review Literature

One of the greatest blessings of this digital age is abundant and free access to information. Any business idea falls under a certain area e.g. agriculture, software development, accounting, and so forth. You can find lots of invaluable information online. I am talking about industry trends, consumer details, relevant statistics, regulatory frameworks, and so on. Just by doing Google searches you can find such information. There is a significant portion of market research that you can do online. You can even check websites and social media platforms of the various businesses that are already established (essentially those who might be your competitors). You can also do literature offline (i.e. using physical sources), where applicable. This exercise will help you do the next one – your business plan.

Work On Your Business Plan

Well, yes I do know most people hate working on a business plan. Truth is it is very demanding, especially if you are honestly working on one. What most people do not realize is that working on a business plan helps you fine-tune your business idea. You will get to understand more about the type of business you are thinking of doing. If some things are not adding up you will notice and that will help you make informed decisions. Take this time to start drafting your business plan. The business plan is not just for when you want to look for capital. Moving forward it will be a precious reference tool that will guide you as you roll out your business.

Conduct Some Tests – Where Applicable

Business ideas vary so this point might not apply to everyone. If you can come up with a minimum viable product go ahead and so. It will help you test how the product will be taken by the market. In some cases it might be a prototype. In some cases it might be a theoretical conceptual framework that you can run past certain people or institutions. The whole point will be to test your business idea. I just gave you examples to prime your mind to think creatively. There is no limit as to what you can do or use to test a business idea. Basically you are doing all this to avoid working on a business idea that might not actually work.

Raise Capital

Now is also a perfect time to start raising capital for that business idea you have. I am not a huge proponent of taking out loans from money lending institutions. Rather I encourage people to explore other avenues. Some of those avenues are asking from friends and family, selling off some of your assets, using some of your savings, or even entering entrepreneurship contests. These are just some of them but the bottom line is you must start raising capital now.

Let this be your 5-point plan to preparing to take off in 2021. The key is always to start early and strong. As you wrap up this year, unwind and eventually get to be with friends and family take this time to plan for your business idea. It will definitely take off in 2021, all the best!