Tag: Business Plan

An Effective Business Plan in Five Steps

business-plan

You have an idea for a business. You know what you want to sell, who you can sell it to, and how much you stand to earn from it. There’s just one more thing you need: a business plan.

Many people dread the idea of preparing a business plan. They think of the business plan as complicated, unnecessary document that exist only to make it more difficult for them to get started as an entrepreneur. They are wrong.

Business plans are necessary because they help you “see” your business. Instead of just talking in abstract ways about your “customer base” and your “profit potential,” it lets you put those things in writing and in concrete terms. It forces you to think through every aspect of your business in advance so down the road you don’t realize you’ve made a mistake that’s cost you your business, your life’s savings, and your job.

Besides all of that, they are also important tools for getting other people interested in your business. For one, if you’ve taken the time to create a business plan, others will realize that you are serious about this endeavour and that it isn’t just some pie-in-the-sky dream. A business plan also shows people that you are a professional and that you understand what it takes to start and manage a business. This is all extremely important, particularly if you need any type of outside funding, such as loans or investors.

So while the bad news may be that you definitely do need a business plan, the good news is that they don’t have to be complicated. The truth is that your plan only needs to cover seven main areas and none of these areas are going to require you to write a full-length novel. These five sections are the executive summary, the company overview, the business environment, the company description, and the action plan. All of those sections may sound complex, but most of them won’t involve information that you don’t already know.

Executive Summary

Even though this section will technically be first in your business plan, you should actually write it last because, just as its name implies, it summarizes the entire contents of your business plan. Because many readers never bother to get beyond the executive summary, you must make sure that it is comprehensive and well-written.

If that sounds difficult, it isn’t. Just make sure to read through your entire business plan before you start writing the executive summary. Make a list of information that you think is the most important or that would really stand out to a reader, and be sure to include all of it in your summary.

Company Overview

This section explains the guiding force behind your business. It gives them a chance to see what you have in mind for the business and how you plan to get there. Generally, the overview does this by providing a mission statement, goals, and objectives for your business.

In a nutshell, a mission statement provides the answers to all of these questions in less than 50 words: What am I selling? Who am I selling it to? Why am I selling it? It doesn’t need to be just one sentence, but keep it as brief as possible.

Goals and objectives, the other components of the company overview, are often confused by first time business plan writers. Remember that goals are things your company wants to achieve while your objectives are how they plan to get there.

Business Environment

This section will probably require you to do some outside research because it involves information relating to your industry, your market, and your competition. You need to take an honest look at the field you are preparing to enter and pay close attention to its structure, its trends, and its barriers to new businesses. Become familiar with the major competitors in your industry and decide how you will differentiate yourself from them. Also, get to know your potential customers and what makes them tick. The more you know about them, the more likely you will be to turn them into buyers.

Company Description

At this point in your business plan, you need to go into detail about your business. You can’t simply define your company in terms of what you sell, but also in terms of who you serve, what resources you will use, what types of employees you are looking for, what type of distribution method you’ll utilize, and more. All of this factors combine to create your company.

In addition to this, you should also state your company’s UPS (Unique Positioning Statement). This is a one sentence statement that explains what sets you apart from all of the competitors.

Action Plan

The last part of your business plan is this section which outlines the steps you need to take now in order to make your plan work. These should also reflect the goals and objectives that you’ve outlined in your company overview.

Besides these primary pieces of a business plan, you may also need to include a financial section, particularly if you plan on using it to get outside funding for your business. This may take more thought and planning than the other sections because it will require you to make some assumptions about your business’s revenue potential. The most important thing is to base any estimates on realistic expectations, not optimistic dreams.

You may want to visit the following websites for some samples to give you an idea of how things should be formatted and worded:

http://www.businessplans.org/businessplans.html

http://www.bplans.com/sp/

With some useful models and this helpful information, you’ll be well on your way to completing your effective and professional business plan.

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A Simple Plan to Start a Business

A simple plan to start a business

When you want to start a business, whether it is a ‘small business’ where you work out of an office or a ‘home based business’ you run out of a corner of your bedroom, this simple plan can drastically change your rate of success and therefor change your life in a very BIG way.

Starting a business is not something you jump into.  When you are working a simple plan, starting a business is something you GROW into. The question that many people face when thinking about starting a business is always “where do I start.”

The answer to that question, even though it may seem obvious to many, is never really that simple to digest. Planning improves your chance of success. And planning is not just about putting together a ‘To-do’ list of items that one must carry out in order to start a business. Planning also involves articulating how you plan to grow your business. But for now, let us look at a simple plan on how you can start a business and achieve great success at it.

  1. Groundwork of your simple plan is crucial when starting a business.

Find someone that was successful in starting a business in your industry, watch them, interview them, find out everything you can about what they did when they were starting a business. Then, write a simple plan outlining what they do all day.

In order to have what they have, you must do what they do, so find out what percentage of their day is spent, for instance, on the telephone making calls, receiving calls and the type of calls.

  1. Plan your time well

The next step in your simple plan as you are starting a business is to divide your time like your mentor. Use the same percentage of the total hours, as you will not work the same hours they do.

The ‘secret to success’ is not in the hours, it is how you spend them! By following the simple plan outlined here, you make the most of your hours, and get the most out of everything as you are starting a business with a simple plan of success.

  1. Set both personal and business Goals

A vital piece of success when starting a business is that you have a goal in mind and work your simple plan to get there.

Without a destination (a specific income amount, a personal item like a car or boat, or simply an amount set aside in savings), how will you know you arrived?

  1. Track your progress.

Divide your goal into days, weeks, months and/or years to quickly know what is required to reach your destination.

Check your progress often. You will know quickly if you are sticking to your original goal or if you are ahead or behind schedule.

Just like a road trip, as you are starting a business, you will likely come across some detours, that’s OK. On vacation, just as in starting a business, if you find a road blocked or a path impassible, you simply find another way.

And, just as on vacation, include in your simple plan a few hours here/there for such ’emergencies’. If you find you have no emergencies, simply choose something else that will get you closer to your destination, or just relax and enjoy where you are.

  1. Work ON your business, not only IN your business.

In starting a business, you must set aside part of your time to plan, set goals, promote and advertise your business, not simply work along in your business, doing the things you do.

When starting a business, a simple form of advertising is a website. The more people that see what you have to offer, the quicker your business will grow.

You could go door-to-door, telling everyone about your website (not a simple plan!), or maximize your time by posting articles online where many people see them.

This is overlooked by many as they are starting a business, and one of the reasons they fail…

As your business grows, you will do less advertising and begin to work your simple plan toward the ‘IN your business’ phase.

  1. Give excellent Customer Service

Upset customers kill more business than you can imagine. Find a way to work with them, or simply give them their money back. Losing customers is something you cannot afford when you are just starting a business!

So many people simply do not make the time to provide quality service to their customers. Do not let that happen to you!

With a little planning and goal setting, follow through each week and simply repeating the process, you can change your business from flat to cash in a short amount of time.

When starting a business, if you follow the simple plan we have outlined here, you are already a success!

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