Why a Written Business Plan

Many people starting a new business have the idea that putting their business plan on paper plan is an unnecessary exercise in mental gymnastics. The typical attitude seems to be: OK, I may have to write one, but after it’s finished I’ll get on with the real business of starting my business. That’s not true. Never was. Never will be.

The reason you owe it to yourself to prepare a written business plan is similar to why blueprints are used to build a house. Always on paper, blueprints spell out where every stick of lumber is to go, including details on their dimensions. Every electrical outlet appears on the blueprint. So does every window, every door, even every cubic yard of concrete.

In short, everything anyone needs to know about building that house is right there in its blueprint. That blueprint includes numerous pages – each a mini-plan for some essential building phase.

The page for the front elevation indicates its among other details overall height and width of the house. Other pages provide similar details for its right and left sides, another for the rear view. There’s also a page for the roof that indicates its pitch, roofing materials, etc. The blueprint consists of mini-plan after mini-plan.

Every detail anyone involved with building that house wants to know about it is right there in those blueprints. Likewise, every detail anyone involved with your business wants to know about it – potential lenders or investors, certainly, but particularly you, yourself – should be included your written business plan.

Just as with the blueprints, within your business plan should be a number of mini-plans, descriptions of how you’re going to handle key elements of your business. Your Physical Plant/Office Plan spells out how much space you’ll need, when and why. Your estimate of how much that space will cost is one of many numbers you’ll include in your Financial Plan.

You should also have a Marketing Plan. Why? Because, as the saying goes, “Nothing happens ’til somebody buys something!” In your Marketing mini-plan plan you’ll identify your target customers, who and where they are, when and how you intend to reach them. How much you intend to invest in reaching them is another number you’ll include your Financial Plan.

Notice that word “invest.” Smart business owners try not to “spend” money. Their goal is to make sure every check they write generates revenue and profit that is several times greater than the total dollars shown on that check.

You’ll also need a H.R. Plan – for your Human Resources. How many employees do you anticipate your business will need? What skills should they have? When do you anticipate hiring them? And how much do you think you’ll have to pay each of them? Salaries, wages and benefits show up where? That’s right, in your Financial Plan.

Those are the basic “mini-plans” included in most written business plans. Depending on the nature of your business, you may also find yourself developing an Inventory Management Plan, a Purchasing Plan, even a Sales Plan, assuming your business requires a sales staff. Sales, remember, is not the same as Marketing. Marketing and Sales serve different functions.

Oh, you say you’ve already got all those details tucked away in your head? Well, tell that to a potential lender when your business needs to borrow money. Or tell that to a potential equity investor if you intend to sell stock. They can’t see what’s in your head. They want to see your business plan – on paper.

Rarely is a home built without a blueprint. Likewise, very few successful businesses are built, grow and prosper without a written business plan.

Even if you’re certain you’ll never have to raise additional money, your written business plan will not only tell you where you’re headed, it documents where you’ve been as a way to track your progress. By referring to your business plan often, you can avoid making a wrong move – or, by looking back, spot where you may have made one along the way.

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You Need a Business Plan for Internet Success

Get rich quick on the internet. How many times do you see that phrase or something like it as you surf the web? There are so many schemes out there to accomplish that goal. But how many people actually get to that dream?

Very few. And why is that? The biggest mistake that most beginning internet marketers make is not going into their project with a “business mindset”. They’re looking at an internet business as a “get rich” scheme. They doom their success from the get go.

To start an internet business you first need a plan. With a brick and mortar business this business plan is usually made to attract investors or secure a bank loan for start up money. But the internet is different territory. An internet business still needs a plan to focus its efforts.

The business plan in this sense is to subject your ideas of selling online to a vigorous scrutiny and see if your plans meet the test of what you will need to actually make it online. Your business plan is your game plan.

Without a true business plan or a true plan of attack, all the software, product development and marketing strategies are just hit and miss exercises. That’s why you need a good business plan from the start. Without a business plan your chances of failure are greatly increased. Your business plan should include what you are going to do to succeed as well as what you will do if things fail miserably. All angles should be covered.

Business plans force you to do the research that most internet businesses fail to do before they start. This is vital to the success of your business. If you already have a product, then you’re one step ahead of the game. Most of us don’t though. Here’s where making a business plan will allow you to think about your interests and passions that might make good niches to market products in.

You can begin to research keywords revolving around your interests to see if there are opportunities for developing products that will meet the needs of the people surfing those keywords. Search for those keywords that have high traffic and then search for related keywords that are also in demand. This type of research will become the basis of your internet business plan.

Out of your keyword research you should come up with a product or service idea you wish to market on the internet. You must precisely describe what it is. What is needed to develop this product? What makes it unique? This marks the first phase of your business plan research and leads into the next.

Researching markets goes hand in hand with product research. And it isn’t looking for those pre-made websites that don’t cost you a dime and that make someone else rich. It’s looking for relevant keywords around which your business theme and business web site will be built upon.

This has to be a solid foundation so that your online business will succeed. It’s the old cliche: “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail”. It’s a known fact that 95% of those that start an online business will fail. Why not plan to succeed? And when you’re planning, don’t plan to become rich overnight. That’s what so many online gurus keep telling you what’s going to happen.

Have you noticed? All those gurus have these large lists they mail to every day, every week, or whenever. They keep telling you about the latest business opportunity that will make you rich overnight or in just a few days. But the next day, they email you again with the newest way to make money online and it’s a whole new program you have to join. Soon, you’re spending all this money on programs that are going to do it for you online but no money is coming in.

The only people that get rich on those schemes are the people starting them and the large list owners that are promoting them. Yet there are thousands taking these gurus up on these types of “businesses” every day. Believe it or not, an internet business doesn’t materialize overnight and make you rich. An online business is like any other business, building slowly over time. You just have to stick with it.

You want your online business to endure time. Remember, most of those gurus promote business programs that are fly-by-night. They’ll be here today, gone tomorrow. That’s why they’re always dangling a new business scheme in your face, hoping you’ll bite on it an make them some money today. Tomorrow they’ll have to promote a new one because they’ve made their money and have left you out on the line to dry.

Your web site is your store front. It must be carefully designed to attract visitors. Without people viewing it, you will have not sales. The web site’s objective’s and design must be taken into account in your online business plan. Make sure your plan is specific in your objectives and the web site meets these. Here again, the web site should grow to meet the needs of your business and be enduring. A site that people come back to time and time again because it’s loaded with new and pertinent information.

Your web site should reflect where you want to make your income. If you want to make your income from Asense ads, then you need lots of informational content. If you’re making income from affiliate programs, then you want a site that sells the affiliate program. If you are selling your own product, then your site should center around the benefits of that product and ultimately send your visitor to a sales page that clinches the deal.

All of this should be considered when making your online business plan. The plan is the pivital document which your business is centered. A business plan makes you think about all of this and centers your business. It is all inclusive and done before you jump into the internet side of things. Don’t just jump in. Have a true plan for your online business. Think it all out before you make your leap.

With a well thought out plan, your online business will succeed. Without forethought and planning, you’re bound to fail. Go into the internet as you would with a brick and mortar business and you are marching into success.

How to Write a Business Plan

Your business plan is an essentially part of your small business success strategy. It is a vital document that lays out all of your professional goals and the means by which you intend to achieve them. It is what brings your business out of the concept phase and turns it into an actionable reality.

It is very important that you write a business plan for your own small business. With it, you can focus your ideas into realistic techniques and goals, with a proper plan, and achievable – but not too unchallenging – goals. It is what will keep you on track and motivated throughout the growth of your business.

Furthermore, business plans are commonly required by investors, banks, the government, and other lending institutions from whom you will be requesting financing to help to get things off the ground.

There are certain steps that you will need to take in order to prepare to write your business plan. These are:

o Identification and narrowing down of all of your business objectives

o Thoroughly researching all of the different points within the business plan

o Write out a rough first draft of the business plan

o Go over the rough draft and divide it into key sections

o Apply realistic financial projections to the plan

o Obtain feedback regarding all of the elements of the business plan.

The elements of your business plan should consist of the following:

o Vision – answer the question “why am I creating this company?”

o Mission – answer the question “what benefits will my products or services provide to my customers?”

o Goals – answer the question “what are the short-term and long-term goals of the company?”

o Introduction to your business – examine and discuss the following points:

(1) An overview of the industry of your business, your business history, and its operations strategy.

(2) An introduction of the key people in your team.

(3) Your current market, including its size, the opportunities you have, the challenges you face, and the growth pattern.

(4) Competition and alliances, including strengths and weaknesses, and strategies.

(5) Target market.

(6) Identification of your clients in terms of their needs, demographics, and purchasing habits.

(7) Your products and services as well as their revenue streams.

(8) The image, experience, or lifestyle you’re selling

(9) Placement

(10) Where your product or service will be available for purchase

(11) Pricing

(12) Your promotional strategy

Operations – including its functioning involving the following points:

o What the business will accomplish everyday.

o Current and future projects in the works.

o Successes and challenges faced so far.

o Overall strengths and weaknesses of the business

o Internal operations issues

The Team – including the people who will be working together in your business, covering the following points:

o Who is responsible for what?

o Is there the right number of people in your business for getting the job done?

o Strengths and weaknesses

o Internal successes and challenges

STEP – also known as the external analysis. This includes:

o What trends are affecting your business in the following areas: social, technological, economical, political.

Opportunities – what is available to your business regarding the following points:

o The size of your prospective market

o How much growth opportunity your business has

o Your market niche

o Changes in operations

o The structure that would be required in order to allow for growth

Concise statements of opportunities for your business

Plan of action and strategy – including:

o What does your business require for achieving its long-term goals?

o What challenges does your business face before reaching its long-term goals?

o What actions will you take in order to achieve your business goals?

o Why have those actions been chosen? How do they complement your vision?

Assumptions – examine these points:

o List all of the assumptions that have been made within the writing of your business plan.

o List soft assumptions – that is, those that have been made but which are not quantifiable.

o List hard assumptions – those that are quantifiable.

Financial projections – including:

o Cash flow statements from the past two years through until the next two years.

o Income statements from the past two years through until the next two years.

o Balance sheet from the past two years through until the next two years.

o Create each of these statements with a high, medium, and low sales estimate.

Executive summary – this section should be written as following:

o A summary of your business plan

o This section’s size should consist of approximately 10 to 15 percent of your entire business plan.

o This section should always appear at the end of the document

o Key points should be highlighted

o Consider this section the most important of the entire document.

As you can see, a business plan requires a great deal of work and planning, however, it is likely to be the most important document that you will create throughout the entire life of your business. Therefore, it is well worth doing, and doing well.

Do You Need a Business Plan

When it comes to starting a business and business plans, you will find that they are not always required. There are some instances where business plans are completely optional. However, that does not mean that you still shouldn’t want to develop one. Although, in some instances, business plans are optional, there are other times when they are not. So, how you do you know whether or not you need to develop yourself a business plan? Keep on reading to find out!.

One of the many business marketing plan uses includes financing. A large number of individuals wish to startup their own business, but many are unable to do so because of money. That is why a most business owners rely on financial lenders or investors. Financial lenders and inventors are sources of financing for many potential business owners. As you might expect, both financial lenders and investors are picky about where their money goes. That is why if you need financing to get your business up and running, you will need to have a business plan. In fact, many financial lenders and inventors will not even give you a quick glance if you do not have a business plan prepared.

Although it is important to understand that financial lenders and investors rely on business plans, you may be wondering why that is so. There are many individuals who wonder why they just can’t explain their business, without having to have it all mapped or planned out. In all honestly, to be successful, a business need to be organized and ran by an individuals who is. Having your business mapped out, in a business plan, is one of the best ways to not only show your organizational skills, but also show that you are serious about your business. Business plans are also used by investors and financial lenders to determine whether or not your business venture is really a profitable one. If not, it is likely that you may find it difficult to obtain the financing that you need.

Now, you do need a business plan if you are looking to obtain financing to get your business started, but if you don’t need financing it may be a different story. If your business does to have any startup costs or if you already have those costs covered, a business plan isn’t necessarily required. However, as previously mentioned, that doesn’t mean that you should automatically forget about developing one. Although you may not need to have a business plan, you still might benefit from making one. One of those benefits is knowing exactly what your business will be and what you will need to do to get it up and running.

In a way, a business plan serves as a to-do list for business developers. Although business plans do come in a number of different formats, most include information on what a business will be about, how that business will be put in motion, how it will generate income, and so on. In fact, one of the points often covered in a business plan is advertising, otherwise known as marketing. By developing your marketing plan ahead of time, you will know exactly how your business will be able to generate income. Developing a business plan, ahead of time, will help to ensure that you get everything right, the first time around.

As you can see, there are some instances where you will need to have a business plan; not having one isn’t an option. Although you may not need to have a business plan, especially if you do not need to worry about financing, you may still want to take the time to develop your own business plan. As previously mentioned, there are a number of benefits to doing so.

This article was authored by Ryan Bessling. This 32 year old, Internet marketer was able to quit his 9-5 “job” because of his The Business Plan Guide. He now wants to help others and show you how he made it in Internet Marketing from creating a great business plan!

Write a Business Plan – Nah! I Can Do That Myself (and Why You Shouldn’t)

There are three reasons why you need a business plan…

To obtain funding.
Every good potential lender or investor, be they bank, angel investor, venture capitalist or business partner, will require a business plan. They want to be comfortable that you have thought long and hard about your business rather than jumping straight into a business. More importantly they want to ensure that they have a good chance of not only having their investment returned, but also making a profit out of the arrangement.

Your business plan is your sales tool – it explains your business and your strategies to make this business a success. It shows how detailed and organized you are and how you intend to make a success of your business.

To introduce your business to potential investors.
The Executive Summary in undoubtedly the most important part of your business plan. Investors receive hundreds of business plans. They decide on their initial sort of who they want to investigate more thoroughly, by viewing the Executive Summary. Yours should be short, concise and eye catching. Investors like entrepreneurs who can concisely and accurately describe their business, products and potential. If you think of it, this is what an effective sales person does every day. If your business model is not planned well enough to be able to describe in a few well written pages then it is unlikely to be successful and very unlikely to be funded.

Once a potential investor has viewed your Executive Summary and become interested in your potential business, then they will read the rest of your business plan in order to gain a greater understanding of your business and investment requirements.

Your Executive Summary should be written after the main part of the business plan and should be no more than 3 pages long. It should summarize your business plan and include an overview of your business, your business models, what you are selling and in which market. You should also summarize your financial requirements and projections as well as provide your investor’s exit strategy.

To ensure that you have a carefully planned business
A well planned business is a business likely to succeed. Do you know who your potential customers are? Do you really know who they are, where they are and what they are looking to buy that you might be able to sell to them?

Do you know how to define your company within a sales environment? Where do you want your company to be in three years?

Do you know how many staff you will need? How you will pay for these staff?

Do you have a vigorous business model? Even know what a business model is?

Have you really thought through how you will run your business?

The answers to all of the above, plus many more will be discovered, decided and defined during the business planning process. If you use a professional business planning company, you have the advantageous of not only having a well written business plan, but you also benefit from the business knowledge of the planning company.

A well written and thought out business plan will help you to clarify your own thoughts about your business, how you want to present your company to your peers, customers and investors. It will help you find out who your best customers are, where they are, what they want to buy and at what price. It will identify any weaknesses you may have in your thinking. Lastly it will provide you with a business and marketing strategy combined with a robust financial model and business model that will give you confidence to make the leap into entrepreneurship.

…..and one why you need to have it professionally written.

Why use a professional business planning company?
A professional company will have experience of writing many different kinds of business plan for many different types of companies. A plan written for a Venture Capitalist is totally different to that which an Angel Investor or a bank requires. A professional company understands this and how to answer the particular concerns of each type of investor or lender. They will pitch you plan to your potential audience.

Investors are risking their hard earned capital by investing in your business and they are entitled to be comfortable that you have a clear business strategy a robust business model and have researched your potential market in great details. They also want to be comfortable that you understand all the risks that your new business faces.

Many business owners, who write their own business plans, often do not include all the information required or include information that is not required. Many amateur plans are unfocussed and discuss information that is not required in detail. An unfocussed and unstructured business plan gives off the wrong impression that you are also unfocussed and unstructured.

To a new entrepreneur you will be very short on time – in order to produce a business plan you will not only need a great deal of time to produce the plan but will also need to take time on a steep learning curve. A professional business plan company has climbed this curve and has enough experience to guide you through the whole process, set your mind working in the right direction and prompt your thought processes.

Hiring a professional allows you to concentrate on finding and servicing your customers, although a good professional will involve you at every stage and your input is definitely required to ensure that the plan reflects YOUR business.

Your business plan consultant will be objective in reviewing your business and have the experience to offer suggestions and advice during the writing process.

The money you pay for a business planning consultant will give you a quality, investor ready business plan with some very useful business consultancy as a bonus!