Yes, You Do Need A Business Plan

Most entrepreneurs agree that a business plan is critical for long term success. Strangely though, most people who set up a home based business fail to take this important step. Is it because they just never get around to it? Is it because they don’t know where to begin? Or is it because they don’t have a mentor or coach who will drive them and keep them accountable? Whatever the reason, failure to take this simple step can have disastrous consequences for the new business owner.

When you start writing your plan down, you will begin to feel more organized. It may even help you to come up with some new ideas that can shape the direction of your business. When I train people who are new to business, I notice some dramatic changes in how they intend marketing themselves, their pricing strategies, product selection and overall feelings about their business.

Many of these changes come from preparation of their Business Plan which unleashes a whole new range of imaginative ideas… ways that may never have been discovered otherwise. Taking time out to walk, think and meditate as well as keeping regular sleep routines will allow your mind to work at an optimum level, thus assisting the creative ideas to flow.

Once you’ve decided on a product or service to sell, do your research. Is there a real market for your product/service? Is it local, interstate or international? Check out your competition. Study their prices. Are they targeting the top, middle of lower end of the market? What is the quality of the goods that they are selling? Is it quality or quantity that they are aiming at? Pricing is important. It can also be one of the most difficult parts of the planning process. Never underprice your product or service. Discounting, when entering the market for the first time, is a sure way to fail. Your potential customers could see your product as cheap or inferior.

When preparing the Marketing and Financial sections of your Business Plan always aim to enter the market by pricing your product in the mid to higher price range. You can then offer short term discounts. Remember that when setting a price you can always come down. It’s never as easy to put your price up. Make sure, however, not to price yourself out of the market. Customers want quality, convenience, uniqueness and value for money first and foremost. Price is a secondary consideration when compared to these benefits. Spend some time figuring out how to deliver the best value to your customers. Learn what they want and then give it to them. It can be as simple as that.

Consider throwing in a bonus or special offer to make the deal even better. Give your customers a coupon or an incentive after they order from your home based business. You want them to feel compelled to purchase from you again and nothing is more attractive to potential buyers than a good deal. These incentives shouldn’t cost much. However, they have the potential to make you a lot of money. Perception in the eyes of the potential customer is what it is all about… value for money is what people want. Give them something which, in their eyes, is of value… not some useless trinket.

Include a projection of your operating expenses in your business plan. Show your invested capital and your break-even point. This is a way for you to determine if your business is likely to be profitable. You should have financial goals set at various periods of time as a check point. These points could be monthly, 6 monthly and yearly.

A business plan can often be the difference between success and failure in small business. There are many free Business Plan templates on Government and Banking websites. Download one now and get started. Ignore this important step at your peril!

Top 3 Things You Should See in a Free Business Plan

Drafting a business plan has never been easy. These days, there is no need to start from scratch, because you can easily download a free business plan from the Internet. There are a host of websites that offer downloadable business templates, including business outlines, for free. Some websites also offer subscription to business templates for a minimal fee. But if you are trying to cut down your costs so you have more to spend when you need to get your business off the ground, you can settle for those downloadable business outlines for now. The only important thing that you need to keep in mind is that the business plan that you will download has to have the essential components. Otherwise, you may need to customize.

So what are the things that you should look for in a business template? Knowing these things is important as it raises the chances for the business to succeed.

First, you should look at the language and the tone of the business study. It is important that the document should be talking to the audience, and should not sound like the author thinking aloud. The objective behind developing a business case is primarily to get the right people to fund your business ventures. As such, it should talk mainly about the value that it will bring to investors. Talk about revenue projections, and remember to include the basis behind these projections. Be objective by presenting the challenges that you envision to face, but also have a solid game plan for getting past these challenges. Remember that at the end of the day, your investors need to be assured that they will get their money back, and their share of the profits.

Second, the free business template should be concise. It should keep your thoughts, ideas and figures framed within a structure, but it should also allow you to specify and explain where details are required. The key is to make sure that the reader is sufficiently informed and able to make the right decisions based on the information that you will provide. In essence, most business strategies are written by people who will be personally and deeply involved in running the operations of the business. As such, the document should also provide the readers with a sense of professionalism, objectivity and credibility. Make sure that the contents are accurate and clean, and free from typographical errors or grammatical lapses. If would also help if your business plan template is accompanied by a presentation deck.

Third, the business plan should have a meaty executive summary. The executive summary is doubtless the most crucial part of the business plan. It sums up the plan and is the first thing that readers see when they look at the plan. As such, it has to grab the attention of the reader right away and compel them to seriously consider reading the entire business plan.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money outsourcing the development of your business plan. If you know what you should communicate and you believe in your business venture, you can do as good a job using a free business plan as you can with an outsourced business plan.

Free (Or Almost Free) Business Plan Assistance

The thought of preparing a business plan can be overwhelming. You don’t know where or how to start or what should be included. Sometimes all it takes is a nudge in the right direction. There are a number of places where you can receive free business plan assistance, or almost free, both online and in your local area.

The SBA (Small Business Administration) has a business plan guideline and workbook
available. You can find it at their web site.

Business magazines such as Entrepreneur Magazine have a number of online resources to help with business planning.

A number of the financial institutions that offer financing to small businesses have websites that provide business plan help.

Try your local city’s Small Business Programs Office or Small Business Assistance Office.

Your state department of commerce may have an office to assist you or even provide a publication devoted to small business or starting a small business.

SCORE – Service Corps Of Retired Executives can give you locations for offices all over the country, offers free counseling and presents workshops on a regular basis. The counseling is offered by retired executives. While most executives are familiar with business planning not all of them are experts. On the day you stop by the resident executive could have a background in marketing or operations rather than planning.

Various Chambers of Commerce offer business plan guidance and review. They also might offer actual assistance in finding financing. You may or may not have to be a member to take advantage of seminars.

Check your public library as well they may have a regular series of free seminars and often will include business planning.

Your state Small Business Association has workshops on business planning. Many of them have online resources as well as onsite help with books and software you can use there or check out.

The Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) provide free consulting in the area of business planning, some also have regular workshops and seminars. Find them in the phone book or search online by city and state. There’s no membership required. SBDC are part of the community college systems.

There are online sites that have interactive business planning software. You complete the different sections of your business plan using their templates. When you’re finished you can download a final copy. Keep in mind anything you put on someone else’s website means they may have access to it.

Free help in preparing your business plan is available.