Following on from my previous post about How to start a online business. This is the next phase of your business.
Now that you have chosen to start a online business, the formation of any business requires a business plan. This post will not cover a full Business plan, but is only a pointer and guide to help you work out your own requirements, as everyone is different and the requirements of each business is time and country specific, there is no comprehensive way to cover all the requirements.
A business plan is an essential element to starting and running a successful business. It
doesn’t matter if you are an entrepreneur or building a much larger business. Nor does it
matter if you have a brick and mortar business or are working completely online.
Everyone needs some sort of plan. Starting and growing a business is like building a house. When you begin thinking about building a house, you start with blueprints or a written plan. Then you put your plan into action and lay the foundation. This foundation must be stable and solid because it will bear the entire weight of your house. If the foundation isn’t up to par, every addition that is made could potentially bring the entire house down. It’s the same with a business.
Creating a business plan allows you to have a firm base on which to build and grow
your business. With this base, you’ll be able to:
• Set and measure your goals
• Know when to move forward
• Review what you’ve accomplished
• See where changes are needed
• Set specific goals for team members
• Prioritise your workload so you stay on track
• Share your strategies and objectives with business partners and team members
• Know when to hire help
• Network with those who have similar plans as you
• Sell your business when the time comes
• Obtain a business loan, if needed
• Expand your business
Creating a business plan doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, unless you’re trying to get a
loan from a financial institution, it doesn’t even have to be formal. A simple business
plan can be written in a spiral notebook, but we’re making it easier by giving you the
worksheets to write out your plan quickly and easily.
Here are some things to consider while writing out your business plan.
Know and understand your audience and competitors. If you ever decide to sell,
apply for a loan, or look for a partner, they will want this information.
Fully understand the solution you are offering, and the problem your business is
solving. If there is no problem, there is no solution and therefore, there is no
business. In other words, why is there a need for your business?
Have proof of everything you claim. From your goals to your financial projections,
have the information that supports your claims.
Write out why you think your ideas will work, the steps you will take to make them work, proof it works for your audience and more. If you cannot offer supporting information to back up your claim, don’t claim it.
When writing out your financial projections, be conservative. While you may feel confident that your profits will increase by 40% within the next year, a 10%
increase is a much more realistic and credible projection. It’s always better to
overachieve than to fall short on your projections.
Being realistic in all areas of your business plan is vital. Just because you want
things to happen quickly, doesn’t mean they will. So, be realistic, but don’t be
over optimistic when setting timelines, figuring resources and more.
Deal in facts. If you plan to reference statistics or even your competition, only talk
about things you can prove. Stats should come from reputable sources.
Information regarding your competition should only come from them. Never go on
Don’t use ‘big’ adjectives like ‘unique’, ‘amazing’, ‘best’ and so forth. Again,
unless you can demonstrate proof of these claims, don’t say them.
Be as concise as possible. You want your plan to be complete, but short, to the
point and clear of fluff.
If possible, include charts, images or graphs that help conceptualise your ideas.
Only a few will do.
Think of your sales pitch. If you had to explain your business; what you do and
who you do in a minute or less, how would you describe it? This information is a
large part of what you will include in your business plan, only expanded upon.
Setting up a Business Plan Worksheet
If you are thinking about a Worksheet template setup that can be used as a business plan, then consider the following template types to get you started. Your structure may be different to suit your needs.
The Executive Summary Worksheet – If you were to try to explain your business plan in a minute or less, what would you say? Usually this is a summary of your business plan.
Business Overview Worksheet – Use this worksheet to help you write a detailed description of your business.
Operations Plan Worksheet – Use this worksheet to explain and describe how each area in your business will function including physical setup and responsibilities for specific tasks performed.
Market Analysis Worksheet – Use this worksheet to help you narrow in on your target market for your business.
Products and Services Worksheet – Describe the products you create, sell, and offer. Use this worksheet to help you discover new ideas for your products or services.
Sales and Marketing Worksheet – Use this worksheet to help you make sales and market your items/services.
Competitive Analysis Worksheet – On the following worksheet, you will identify and research your competitors to assess your direct and indirect competitors’ strengths and weaknesses to compare to your own.
Management Team Worksheet – Building a profitable business may require you recruit and train team members. Use this worksheet to provide you with pertinent, concise background information on all key players involved in your business.
Financial Plan Worksheet – Use the following Worksheet to help you organise and keep track of all the financial needs that may come with starting a business.
Projected Income Worksheet – Use this worksheet to keep track of your costs and profit in your business.
Items and Topic to include in your Business Plan.
The Executive Summery should be filled out last, as it is easier to summarise everything you have said in the other Sheets rather then think of a Summary beforehand. The Summary should be Like an elevator-pitch, if you were to try to explain your business in a minute or less, what would you say? It should be short, unique, interesting, and persuasive.
When Giving a Business overview, write a detailed description of your business including things like your Legal structure, so are you a Sole proprietor, Partnership, Corporation or Private Limited Company ect. Also this should include a short description of why have you selected this form of business, the Business Formation History and a Mission Statement (Explain your reason for being and your guiding principles.)
You should have a Operations Plan which can Explain and describe how each business area will function. Include info about the physical setup and the responsibilities for specific tasks that team members will perform. These tasks/procedures are called Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).
Market Analysis should give an overview of your market including things they frequently have in common as well as unique qualities that make some market sub-sections quite different. Be sure to include a variety of their problems, concerns, fears, etc. Envision your ideal customers and your target market. Include your target market in this plan, go into as much details as you can.
Products and Services should describe the products you create, sell, and/or the services you offer. Use the following example to help you discover new ideas, identify, and classify your products or services. Then provide a brief description of each existing product.
Ebook – non-fiction
Ebook – fiction
Ecommerce product descriptions
Email campaign templates
Academic research, papers, findings
Writing cover letters
Sales and Marketing which is the guts of your business should include information to help you make sales and market your items/services. Such as your product name, the description and what customer needs does this product fill or what issues does it solve? How do these prices compare to your competitors’ prices? What motivation prompts potential buyers to take action and make the purchase? What methods will you use to market this product/service? Where will you “advertise” or notify potential customers of this specific offer? Draft a potential ad for this product/service.
Competitor research, identify and research your competitors to assess your direct and indirect competitors’ strengths and weaknesses to compare to your own. Include factors such as Products, Price, Quality, Selection, Service, Reliability, Stability, Expertise, Reputation, Location, Appearance, Sale Method, Credit Policy, Advertising and Images. Then prepare a Strength vs Weakness chart or table showcasing your strengths and weakness and also your competitors.
If your having teams in your business, then provide pertinent, concise background information on all key players involved in the business. Include their roles, skills, contact and position.
Financial Plans include all financial information for each section of the business. Such as the following: Amount needed to start the business, Amount needed to maintain the business for the first year, Amount needed for the first two years, then three years and then a fire year forecast.
A income worksheet, free templates are on any Microsoft excel workbook, should be a 12 month cost and profit worksheet, showing the breakdown of all cost and profits on a month by month basis.
The above is not a comprehensive list or a detailed analysis, but as i did not even know this when i started my online business, I hope that it helps you in forming a business. Now as a disclaimer none of the information i provided above is to be considered as legal or professional advise.
If you want a mega Business e-book, checkout below my Business Growth bundle.