Last week I set the goal of setting a timeline by today. I’m basing my progress off of the steps set out in Check Mark Startup. My timeline is rather flexible. Instead of having a strict regiment, my main goal here is to have progress every week.
Week 1 – Personal
The first week is about me. I’ll be revisiting my personal goals as well as professional goals. Additionally, I need to make a list of my own support structure and reach out to each of them.
- Answer why I want to start this business.
- List my 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, and 20 year personal goals.
- Make a list of my support systems I have in place.
- Send a personalized letter to those in my support system.
- Write a list of my personal values.
- Create my definition of success based on my goals and previous answers.
Week 2 – Financials
The second week is all about financials. I’ll need to figure out what I make. Additionally, I need to figure out the estimated costs of running this business. Finally, I’ll need to figure out how I’m financing the company. We’ve decided we’re bootstrapping, but every company has some expenses.
- List my personal expenses.
- List my sources of personal income.
- Make and month-by-month individual budget for the next 3 years.
- Write down the estimated costs of running this business for 3 years.
- Using my personal budget as a guide, make a budget for the business for 3 years.
Week 3 – Products, Brand, and Mission Statement
The third week is about the foundation of the company. Up until this week, we won’t have chosen a product to sell. Product, branding, and mission statement are all intertwined. This will be the first time in the timeline we talk about products, so it will take more thought than execution.
- Pick the personal values I want as the company’s values.
- Choose 3-5 values that make up the company’s core brand.
- Write a one-sentence reason why each value I chose is important to the company.
- Write a complete list of the products or services this company provides.
- Describe the problem these products or services this company solves.
- Create a mission statement.
- Read and memorize the mission statement.
Week 4 – Company Goals
Every company needs goals. People should probably have them too I suppose. However, we’re focusing on the company goals for this week. Our company goals should result in accomplishing our personal goals.
Additionally, the goals need to be goals we can control and measure. For example, setting a goal to call 200 people is something I can control. Setting a goal to make $100,000 is not a goal I can control. However, the goals I set should ultimately lead to things like these financial goals.
- Create 1-5 major business goals.
- Create as many sub-goals as needed to make them measurable and trackable.
- Turn all of my goals into SMART goals.
Week 5 – Business Plan
My business plan will be the blueprints for the company. All business plans should be designed in a way that they can change and adapt. However, it is also critical that I start with something usable.
Additionally, this is the time when I expand my definitions of the products I offer.
- Create the template business plan outline.
- Add a detailed products sections.
- List the benefits each of my products offers as well as the need they solve.
- Figure out the cost of each product.
- Determine my target demographic, including their wealth, needs, etc.
- Eliminate any products that my demographic wouldn’t buy.
Week 6 – Competitors
Next, I’m going to analyze my competitors. It’s important to figure if there’s room for me in the market. Competitor analysis can also reveal insights into my pricing, marketing, etc.
- Make a competitor list. At least 5-10 within my geographic scope, including market share.
- Write down what makes me unique in the market.
- Make sure my products solve a problem my demographic has.
- Write down a list of my potential customers. Be as exact as I can.
Week 7 – Marketing Start
Marketing is a huge chunk of running a business. Therefore, what I’ll cover here can only scratch the surface. We’ll continue to add to the marketing plan later in the timeline.
- Make a list of every marketing idea I have. These can be good or bad. Most importantly, this is a mind dump.
- For every idea, list the values, whether they reach my demographic, and time and money cost.
- Go through my list and label them as good, bad, or uncertain.
- List expected payout for each idea. This doesn’t have to be just money. For example, an idea can generate increased followers. However, all payouts should be tangentially or directly related to a goal. If it doesn’t help achieve a goal, it’s a bad idea.
- Create a cash and time flow diagram for the ideas.
- Pick my top marketing ideas and make sure they can happen together.
Week 8 and Forward
In the interest of time, I’m stopping at 7 weeks for now. I’ll reassess as I go. Once I have an idea of my timing, I’ll post more information on my timeline.
Richard is the managing attorney for Law Plus Plus, a local small business law firm. As managing attorney, he helps small businesses and nonprofits startup, creating the contracts, and navigate the legal needs of businesses. Some of his practice areas include: corporate, contract, mergers & acquisitions, corporate litigation, and estate planning.