The Process of Creating a Business Plan Teaches You Many Things

An investor, banker or lender will demand a plan before they make any financial commitment. Besides being a prerequisite to getting finance for your business, a plan also is a blueprint for efficient management of your new business.

It can be argued that in a fast-changing market, a business plan may quickly become obsolete. However, the insight gained from the planning process can prove to be an invaluable experience and come in handy to deal with the various challenges your business throws up from time to time.

A Plan Creates Tactics and Objectives

A plan describes the long term vision of your venture and the objectives you aim to achieve during a given time frame. It will also detail the tactics and strategies deployed to reach those objectives. A well structured plan will provide the basis for operational budgets, business procedures and management controls.

It must be remembered that no two plans are exactly the same, ever. Every plan is tailored to meet the specific needs of a business situation and the industry it operates in. For instance, a business plan for a coffee shop will be vastly different from one for an internet café. An internet café business document will have more technical details about the equipment and the type of hardware and software used whereas a coffee shop plan will focus more of the operational part.

While there is a lot of emphasis on the presentation, the substance of a business plan is most crucial. The tactics and operational strategies discussed in the plan should be practical and justify how they will help in achieving the end objective. There are various reasons for creating a business proposal. For large organizations, it is an ongoing process to steer the business in the right direction and plan for the crucial cash flow during various stages of growth and development.

Why the Process of Creating a Plan is More important than the Plan Itself

For large companies, business planning is needed to launch a new product. In such cases, the focus of the plan will largely be on investment appraisal. It is commonly believed that business documents are used for setting up a new business and for raising funds from investors. However, those are not the only reasons why companies and entrepreneurs develop a plan. In most cases, more than the value of a plan, the process of creating one is rather critical.

Plans are useless but planning is indispensable – the famous words of former U. S. General and President, Dwight Eisenhower aptly capture the reason why business planning is extremely critical for the success of any business venture. Whether it’s a business plan for a coffee shop or for a technologically driven engineering firm, the planning process helps entrepreneurs and others involved with the business understand how the business will evolve and adapt in the changing markets.

Business Plan: Why Should You Create A Business Plan For Your Online Home Business?

Having a business plan is so important to you as an online marketer. But most people, who start online businesses, especially small businesses, do not really take the initiative to make a business plan. Probably they think that it’s not necessary. But for sure there is little you can achieve in life without proper planning. More so in the contemporary times when survival depends largely on one’s ability to organize your physical and mental resources well. The future is actually for those who are organized. And the future of your business is dependent on your good planning.

Planning is very important in life. Everybody should do planning at individual or family level. As an individual, you should plan for the day well in advance in order to accomplish what is to be done in that day. At family level, a family plan helps to focus on supporting the entire family in its growth and development. Planning is also done at business and organizational level.

A business plan is therefore an outline for taking an idea for a product or service and turning it into a commercially viable reality. It’s a roadmap of the business you intend to start and without it you may end up getting lost on the way. It should therefore be remembered that having generated your business ideas and analyzed them to come up with the most viable idea, it’s important to create a business plan for your online home business. Do you have one?

Some people think that they do not need a business plan for a small business. But let me make it clear that the size of the business doesn’t matter. Whether small or big, you need a plan. If you need a plan as an individual and for your family, then why not have a plan for your small business? Like for individuals and families, you need to plan for your online small business.

A business plan shows you what you would like to achieve and how to achieve it. Although not all plans are written down, a good business plan should be written down. If you have it in your head, it’s high time you spent some time to write it down for better results.

Why should you create a business plan?

1. It encourages you to think deeply about your business objectives and goals.

When you create a business plan, you get to think about the short-term and long-term objectives. It also helps to develop a mission statement for your business. This helps you to remain focused as you do your business.

2. It encourages you to think about the possible problems and how to overcome them.

In any business you may think about, there are always risks involved. Creating a business plan enables you to anticipate the risks that you may encounter in the process of running your business. It also makes you to think about the various ways of overcoming the problem in case it happens. That’s a proven way of looking at things for you to remain in business.

3. You get a clear picture of the whole business project.

The process of making a business plan makes it possible for you to focus on the nature of your business in details, to analyze your target market, to develop a marketing and operational plan and to make your financial projections.

4. You get new ideas.

It becomes easy to communicate your ideas to the people you interface with, who in turn can give you better ideas or complement the ones you have. Collect all the material to one place. Having a business plan makes it possible to have all your ideas and plans in one place. It becomes easier for you refer to it and to use it to develop your business. You become a more committed business person and even others people, like your prospective financiers, can easily regard you as a serious business person.

As I conclude, I would like to advice all people, who want to start any kind of business or who already have business without a business plan, to think about creating one as way to building a successful business. One of the causes of failure in business is lack of proper planning. Create a business plan if you want to succeed in your online home business!

Techniques For Writing a Business Plan

A business plan may be defined as the formal statement of a collective set of business goals or planning. It can also contain the background information about the organization. Business plan is mandatory to run a company because it is an essential part of initial strategic planning of any company. The capability of writing this plan effectively is a fundamental quality that a businessman should have, especially while starting a new business company or organization. The plan acts like a road map which may guide the company towards success.

There are some objectives or reasons to write a plan for business. These are mentioned below:

– It’s a tool or equipment for obtaining financing
– This helps to unite joint venture partners in a common goal or destination
– It makes the whole business goals feasible to study and analyze
– It will serve as the blueprint for the debut business companies.

A business plan works to convince individual or institutions for investing money in his business or loaning money. Sometime the plan writing is more important than the plan itself. While attempting to write a plan, the businessman’s strategic foundation should be identified first. This strategic foundation explains about the type of business he wants to start or which type of firm he wants to establish. It also indicates the basic elements that are needed to start the business firm. One can predict about the future condition of the company by the plan on his business. In the plan, the main products and the information on the clients should be written down in detail. To get more idea about it the business man can contact with business marketing consultants who can help him.

The planner can be able to declare the financial conditions and financial goals of the company by the help of written form of the business plan. A businessman must think about the present and the future conditions, which mean that he must analyze recent conditions as well as the upcoming needs. He should categorize the ideal and awful clients so that he can take steps to attract the best clients, at the same time to refuse the others. A business plan should be written in brief way so that he won’t forget any topic or information.

Writing a business plan proves the deadly seriousness of a businessman. It is very important in acting as a guide in different stages of the business. While writing a business plan one should follow some criteria which make the plan more effective and work worthy. To set up a unique business goal that is verifiable. The main purpose of writing the plan is to notify the specific goals or plan that a company is going to perform. It will guide the businessman to take decision himself as well as it will explain his plans on business and aims to anyone reading his plan. It also states the long term objectives of the business.

The plan must be realistic in every aspect. It includes the time line, market analysis, specifies projected expenses and revenues, and creates an accurate forecasting. One must keep his plan simple, easy and clear to be understood easily. If the language is difficult and inflate for impressing the customers, it may affect in reverse way. It may be confusing for the businessman himself. It should be very easy and naturally described without any excess verbiage. It should be in proper tone so that the reader can response and react positively to that tone. One must consult with some of the institute concerned with the business sector. These firms and organizations help you to take proper decision at the right time. Consulting institutes such as business consulting firms, business technology consulting, business plan consultants, organizational consultants etc. They help and give you the proper guideline in every aspect and decision. These types of firms summarize the plan and efforts that is effective for the company.

One must write a plan staying along the lines of traditional business plan format. Creative thinking is always appreciable, but to make yourself look more professional you must go with the guide of a tested business plan template. This may organize the plan into a well structured data and document.

One must clearly state and define the main purpose of the business plan. Similar to the identification of the goals of business, the writer must identify and specify the goals of the written business plan. It will help to secure the financial backing from the investors.

Once the plan is ready for the inauguration of the business, the businessman should decide his priority. These priorities will make the success in business easier. The main contents of writing a business plan are given below:

Cover sheet
Statement of purpose
Table of content
The business
-Description of business
-Marketing
-Competition
-Operating procedure
-Business insurance
Financial data

Summary:
Overall a business plan should be written in such a manner that it is easily understandable and that have the ability to attract newer clients. After these mentioned process been finished, one would be ready to face challenges that a new business would bring.

Writing an Effective Business Plan For Your Small Business

Plans are Useless; Planning is Indispensable

“Plans are useless; planning is indispensable,” according to Dwight D. Eisenhower, then Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during WWII. Now, you may be in total agreement with the first part of that statement, but you are really not convinced of the truth of the second part.

At this point, you may be tempted to skip writing a business plan altogether, viewing it as an unnecessary exercise in jumping-through-the-hoops, suggested by some old business professor who probably never held down a “real” job anyway. Maybe it’s okay as an assignment for an MBA class, but it would be just too confining and irrelevant for today’s fast-paced business environment. Anyway, you’re ready! You’ve thought about this business venture for a long time and talked it over with friends and everybody agrees it’s a great idea. Best to strike while the iron is hot!

Press for Success

Far be it from me to dampen your enthusiasm, but you should give yourself every opportunity for success. That’s what the planning part of the process of creating your business plan will do. By the time you have pressed your way through it, you will not merely have some neatly arranged document to keep on file, you will have a working tool that addresses the essential factors that influence your future.

Besides, your friends may be 100% behind you in your new venture, but, in case you are hoping to involve others who have actual money to invest, you may need to be able to make a convincing case. Wouldn’t it be nice to have anticipated possible questions and be ready with plausible answers? If you are risking your own money, that is perhaps even a stronger reason to do some indispensable planning.

Easy Writer

If you are one who is intimidated by the blank page, never fear! There are several good software packages that will guide you through the process, such as Business Plan Pro Complete from PaloAltoSoftware. Business Plan Pro Complete walks you through the entire planning process and generates a complete, professional and ready to distribute plan with a proven formula for success. The planning wizard makes it a snap to get started since you simply answer yes or no questions to create your custom business plan framework. Bplans.com offers free business plan samples and how-to articles as well as a wealth of other information. It is definitely worth taking the time to checkout. Microsoft Office Online Templates also has a variety of free templates to use with their products. The wizard indicates the information you need and you fill it in as you go.

You may find that the easiest part is the actual writing of the plan. The real work comes in the data-gathering, which may take you a hundred hours or more, depending on what you already know or have researched. If your new venture is in an area where you’ve been working, you may already know about your customers, your suppliers, your marketing plan, your organizational structure, your financial and cash flow needs, equipment, inventory, and so on. If you know all of these except for Marketing, say, then this is where you will need to invest some time and effort. You can find a wealth of information by utilizing the traditional data sources such as chambers of commerce, major cities’ websites, trade associations, the US Census Bureau, trade journals, magazine and online articles and advertising, etc. Performing keyword searches on Google, or Ask will bring up websites to check out. Following are some places to start:

  • James J. Hill Reference Library (jjhill.org): One of the nation’s premier business libraries to bring you FREE and affordably priced tools and resources you can use to create a better business plan based on relevant and credible data.
  • U.S. Census Bureau (census.gov): A source for a variety of useful statistics, especially the Economic Census that comes out every 5 years.
  • American Demographics (adage.com/americandemographics): Just as the title suggests, numerous free reports about consumer demographics in the U.S. nationally and by statistical area.
  • Internet Public Library – The Census Data and Demographics (ipl.org)/: An especially useful site that has links to information about countries other than the U.S.
  • Corporate Information (corporateinformation.com): Features information summaries on over 350,000 companies in the U.S. and abroad for competitive analysis.

You can find a variety of companies online to help you with your market research. For example: Sundale Research’s (sundaleresearch.com) primary goal is to provide new and mature businesses with objective, accurate industry data and market analysis on a wide range of topics. Their market research is intended to save you time and money while keeping up with industry trends.

But your idea may be so new that you may also need to talk to potential customers, host some focus groups, talk to an ad agency, or maybe even make a prototype and float it past some people. Be prepared to spend the time. Remember, it’s not about the Plan but the Planning.

Build It on Paper First

Whether you decide to use business plan writing software or to just follow this guide and create your plan with your word processor, here are the sections of a good plan and the questions that need to be addressed:

  • Cover Page – Show the name of the company, your name, and the date.
  • Introduction – What is the name and address of the business? Who are the principals, their titles, and their addresses? What is the nature or purpose of the business? What is your launch date? How much start-up and/or operating capital is needed?
  • Executive Summary – One to three pages that summarize all the information to follow; come back and write this last.
  • Industry Analysis – How does your product or service compare with what is currently on the market? What is the trend in the overall industry? What have been the total sales in this industry over the previous 3 to 5 years? What new products or technologies have had the biggest impact on this industry recently? What is the future outlook for these and what trends are emerging? Who are the competitors, where are they located, and how are they doing? What advantage do you offer over them? Who is buying this product or service now? Describe the typical customer for this product or service. Are there emerging markets or market segments? Where does this product or service currently perform best? Possible Data Sources: trade associations; trade journals; attorneys & accountants dealing with the industry; industry salespeople; state business websites; focus groups.
  • Description – What product(s) or service(s) are you offering specifically? Are any patents, copyrights, or trademarks needed? Have they been acquired/filed? What is the size of your business? Where will it be located? Will this require purchasing or building a facility? Will this require leasing a facility? At what cost? Has a lease been negotiated? What personnel will you need? Where will you find suitable employees? What equipment do you need? Will it be purchased or leased? What are the qualifications of your principals? How do their backgrounds promote the success of this venture? Why do they think this will be a successful venture? Possible Data Sources: local Chamber of Commerce; community colleges & local universities; local employee leasing company; real estate agents; US Patent & Trademark Office; US Copyright Office.
  • Production Operation – If a product must be manufactured, what is the process? Will the work be done on-site or subcontracted? Who are the subcontractor(s)? If on-site, what space, equipment, machinery, production employees are needed? What suppliers are needed? Who are they? How will quality be assured? What is the anticipated production output? What established credit lines do you have? Possible Data Sources: local Chamber of Commerce; yellow pages; trade associations.
  • Service Operation – If a service is offered, describe it. Will the work be done by company personnel or subcontracted? Who are the subcontractor(s)? If on-site or in cyberspace, what employee qualifications, equipment, and technologies are needed? How will quality be assured? What performance levels are anticipated per employee? Possible Data Sources: local Chamber of Commerce; yellow pages; trade associations.
  • Marketing – How is the product or service priced? How will it be distributed? How will it be promoted? Will it be promoted by the venture or an outside agency? What agency? How have you determined what amount to set aside for marketing? How have you determined product or service forecasts? Possible Data Sources: on-line searches; Amazon; local outlets; trade journals; industry attorneys & accountants; salespeople.
  • Organization
  • How is the business structured? Who are the principals and the principal shareholders? What authority does each principal have in the venture? What are management’s qualifications? What is the job description for each position? What does the organizational chart look like? Possible Data Sources: on-line templates for job descriptions & organizational chart.
  • Risk Assessment – What weaknesses are inherent in this venture? What vulnerabilities face this type of venture? What impact will these have? What new technologies may affect this venture over the next 1 to 3 years? What contingency plans are in place? What level of liability insurance is required? What does it cost? Who is the carrier? Possible Data Sources: trade associations; trade journals; Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE); industry salespeople; customers; focus groups.
  • Financial Plan – What is the anticipated income? What are the cash flow projections? What is the anticipated budget over the next 3 years? What is the break even point? When is it anticipated to be met? What funding is needed and where will it come from? What funding is currently available? What collateral is available? What is the net worth of the principals, if applicable? Possible Data Sources: accountant; accounting software; Small Business Administration; Small Business Development Center; SCORE; banks; venture capitalists.
  • Appendix – Resumes of principals/management; letters of recommendation from current business associates/customers/suppliers; marketing research data; demographic data; leases or contracts in place or as promised; business licenses; price lists from suppliers; trade or industry articles or data; floor plans; information on subcontractors; liability insurance policies.

Impress for Success – Now you have to admit, this is going to make an impressive package! Put it in a binder and you have built something to be proud of – the first of your many business accomplishments. Your potential investors will appreciate the depth of your analysis, but this tool will prove helpful in describing your venture to your employees, customers, and suppliers, as well. After you have been up and running for a few months, you will find that the planning that you have done will sensitize your inner “business compass” and allow you to flexibly adjust to contingencies. And that is indispensable!

In Summary

Planning out your business on paper first gives you long-term benefits with potential investors, employees, vendors, and suppliers. The business plan becomes your roadmap to success, with pertinent data that shapes the course of your business start-up and lets you adjust your journey as contingencies arise. Business planning templates are readily available and data sources abound at your fingertips. You will achieve a solid understanding of your business as you work through each section of your plan.

IMPress Action Checklist:

Below is a list of the steps that will help you put together your business plan. Check off each step as you complete it to keep track of your progress.

  1. Purchase business plan software or download a template
  2. Read over the business plan sections to decide what data you have, what data you need
  3. Gather data via the internet, phone interviews, print material
  4. Fill in the plan’s sections
  5. Write the Executive Summary
  6. Print and Bind Your Plan