Create Your Business Plan

Small businesses are usually born of a “great idea”. An aspiring entrepreneur is sitting at home on the couch, watching television, and all of a sudden, inspiration strikes! He has the perfect idea for a new business, and he wants to get started right away. Humans are creatures who worship at the altar of instant gratification; we are motivated from the get-go and want things to start happening immediately.

The important thing is to not let your motivation run ahead of you. Starting a new business can be exciting, but whether you are a brand new rookie or a seasoned veteran, planning and organization must come first. You will get your first customer, you can design the perfect brochure, and your website will come to fruition. But first, select a three-ring notebook and begin to create your business plan.

I recommend a three-ring binder for this task, inside which you will place six multi-colored dividers. You can type your plan and insert it into the binder upon completion with a three-hole punch, or you can write it longhand. This doesn’t matter because you and your business partner (if you have one) will be the only ones who will see it.

Next, label the dividers:

1. Vision
2. Capital
3. Marketing & Advertising
4. Production
5. Products and/or Services
6. Staffing

Vision

This is the creative section of you business plan. In it, you should clearly define your vision and goals for your business, both long and short term. It should contain your mission statement, your projected income, your basic venue, and your ideas for seeing your goals through. Make sure to set realistic goals that you are motivated to meet, and establish dates for when you hope to achieve them. This section should be a positive reference for you when you are steam-rolling down the business turnpike, and should reflect realistic capabilities.

Capital

This section should contain the starting capital for your business as well as starting materials that you already have. Be sure to keep track of everything you currently possess that might be used for your business; if it turns out that those items aren’t necessary, you can cross them off the list later. It is important to keep track of your assets so that you don’t buy extraneous supplies and so you can figure out your overhead later.

Ex:

Starting Income: $25,864.18
CD’s: $10,000 at 3.68% interest over ten years
Items: Computer
Fax Machine
Laptop
Printer
iPod
Cellular Phone

You can also include any office or retail space you might have secured, or your home if you use it as your office.


Marketing & Advertising

This is an extremely important section, as it outlines your plans for advertising and marketing of your products and/or services. Even if you don’t have any clear idea of how you might go about this, go ahead and jot down some ideas. You can always come back later and fill it in when you have more perspective. And if you know the figures, go ahead and write down how much each marketing or advertising campaign will cost. It is always helpful to know your start-up costs from the very beginning


Ex:

Newspaper Ad: $0.40/word
Flyers: $0.24/page
Brochures: $2.00/brochure

This is an invaluable resource when you need to boost consumer sales.


Production

This isn’t as important if you are providing a service, but if you plan to sell products, it is imperative that you outline exactly how they will be produced, in what quantity, and how much they will cost. Detail a rough estimate of how many will be initially ordered, and how many you plan to sell within your first week, month, and year. Of course, those numbers might drastically change once you get to know your market, but its nice to have goals.

Products and/or Services

This is the section that will contain a comprehensive list of your products and/or services, and how much each will cost the consumer. Again, those numbers might change, but have a rough estimate in mind. Detail the specifications of each (for products, the dimensions, descriptions, and uses; for services, the exact service provided and any stipulations).

Staffing

Again, this will only apply to those businesses which require extra employees. If you are opening an antique store, for example, you will need a clerk to work the hours for which you are unavailable. Here, you should detail the interview process you plan to execute, the means for advertising the position, the starting salary you will pay, and the terms and conditions of employment. You should also have the proper employment and tax forms for each position you are hiring.

There are many variations of this business plan, and it is imperative that you select the one right for your business. Microsoft Office has an excellent Business Planner template for your use, which can be purchased from Microsoft.com. There are also several books dedicated to business plans, many of which can be found through Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com.

Good luck creating your business plan!

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