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11 Steps To Creating The Perfect Business Plan

What should a business plan cover?

Startup Stock Photos

Startup Stock Photos

That’s the million dollar question.

For one thing, it should offer a thorough analysis of the need for the particular product or service you are planning to offer. It also needs to talk about how you are qualified to be making such an offering to the public.

A business plan should address your strategies in terms of production and marketing, how you will be organized, any legal aspects that you must address, and what your accounting methods will be. In short, a business plan should address the following questions:

Step 1: Forecast Your Sales Revenue– after you take a look at the market your product is best suited for, estimate the percentage of that market that you think you will reasonably be able to take over. Take in to account the number of your competitors, their size, and the amount of market they already have. It is important to be realistic during this exercise.

Step 2: Making the Commitment– be sure that you desire to work for yourself is truly greater than you desire to work for someone else.

Step 3: Put it All into Numbers– this may or may not be necessary for you; it depends on what type of business you are starting. When you approach a financial institution for a small business loan, they will respond better if they see all of your plans in numbers; they are, after all, in the business of numbers.

Step 4: Choose a Product or Service– this sounds silly, but just because you think you know what business you want to be in, it doesn’t mean your idea will be a profitable one. Take a look at the feasibility of your idea.

Step 5: Develop an Organizational Plan– what skills and talents do your new business need to not only survive, but to grow? If these individuals, and their skill sets, are vital to your success, do not make a plan without them!

Step 6: Analyze yourself– list your strengths and weaknesses. Determine how you can build off your strengths, and improve on your weaknesses. Remember, this can be a daunting task because you may have to own up to a few shortcomings you’re not prepared to recognize!

Step 7: Choose a Location– is your new business going to be on the web? Be careful to weight both your personal preferences and what makes the most sense for the ultimate success of your business.

* What do I want and what am I capable of doing?
* What are the most workable ways of achieving my goals?
* What can I expect from the future?

Step 8: Address Your Accounting– if you don’t know how much money is coming in and out of your business, you will never know if you are making a profit, or if you need to make changes. Keeping track of your numbers is one of the single most important things you can do for your business. Decide on whether you will do it in house, or outsource it to a professional; if you take care of it yourself, decide on what software you will use.

Step 9: Research Your Market– marketing research is crucial to the success of any business, large or small. The more you know about your potential market, the greater your chances of securing the customers you want, right out of the gate, and that means making a profit.

Step 10: Decide on Your Status– sole proprietor? You need to decide how you’re going to approach this, and investigate the legal ramifications of each situation. In a partnership, you share the responsibility, but you also share the decision making and the profits.

Step 11: Develop a Marketing Plan– here you will be forced to detail you plan to gain customers, and turn a profit. Discuss possible marketing channels, price points, advertising, and sales promotion.

There is not one specific format that you should use, or one best way to lay out your business plan. There are some steps you can take to make the process go a little more smoothly; we’ve listed what we think is the easiest method, below.

That’s it– wasn’t so hard after all, was it?

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P.S. If you got value from the article,  please comment below and share with a friend!

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To Your Success!

J.W. Steward & Beth Elliott

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