With today’s economy, people are looking for ways to bring in extra income or pursue their dreams of running their own business. While some people may be degreed in business, giving them an edge over some, most do not understand the importance of having a business plan in place prior to starting their business. Without a plan in place to set up your business, you are actually not “running” your business; it is running you.
There is a simple way to create your own business plan on the go. It involves writing down your business type or idea, strategy, goals and priorities. Organization is key to any great business, so if you are not the organized type then now is the time to improve on that weakness and make it a strength. To start out, your business plan should not be immaculate and costly. Any great business planner has to start somewhere by having an idea, jotting down notes, researching and even discussing their plan with other business owners. A good business plan is not necessarily a document that you must adhere to until the end of days; it will always be a work-in-progress.
What do you want to do?
As simple as that question sounds, the answer can be complex. What kind of business do you want? Are you providing a product or a service? Will you be online only or have a brick and mortar location, or both? Starting your business plan is really a question and answer session for you and any other partners involved. By asking questions like these in the beginning, you will be able to better strategize other important aspects such as how you will advertise or if you need to obtain licenses, leases or credit.
Once you’ve decided what exactly it is you want for your business, you should do research. Find out how long it takes to start the type of business you want. Check to see if there is any demand for your product or service. A business product or service is no good if no one is interested in buying or using it. Great research will payoff for you in the end.
Develop your strategy
Once you’ve ironed out your business type you need to develop a strategy, that is, how will you put your business into action? Here are some great tips to help you plan your business strategy. While this list is not all-inclusive, it does cover several key areas that need to be addressed prior to making your business a reality.
• How will I advertise? – email, mass mailings, Twitter, Facebook
• Do I need a website?
• Do I need to lease building space or can I work from home?
• Do I have enough money for start-up costs?
• Do I need a license to practice, building permits, state/city registrations?
• Do I need a tax id number (EIN)?
• How will I keep track of my expenses, debts and cash flow?
Set your goals
So, you’ve decided on a business, you’ve ironed out some key details to get you started, now, what do you expect to achieve from it? Setting your goals and expectations for your business helps you stay on track. Goals should be set up as short-term and long-term. A short-term goal or milestone are several achievable goals that are easily obtainable in a relatively short amount of time. Your long-term goals are goals that may take a substantial amount of time to achieve and usually are obtainable after several short-term goals have been fulfilled.
For example, let’s say you want to start your own consulting business. A short-term goal would be something like coming up with a catchy phrase or slogan for your business. Or, it could be creating templates for customer orders, designing a logo, getting certified or registering your business with the state. These series of short-term goals will build up into your long-term goals. Your long-term goals may be, for example, to have three or four locations or to become a global company. Always keep in mind that your goals can change, increase or be replaced by different goals. You should always have more short-term goals than long-term goals. Keep track of each goal you achieve as it helps you stay motivated, focused and keeps your business on the right track.
Maintain your priorities
The reason why most businesses fail is due to lack of planning, research and maintaining their priorities. A key priority for any business owner is to ensure all debts are paid, all licenses are obtained, and bookkeeping is in order. If you are planning on doing your own accounting there are several resources available on the Internet to assist in keeping track of expenses, debts and your incoming cash flow. Larger businesses may want to hire an accountant, especially for tax purposes.
Expenses such as payments for website maintenance and content, computer peripherals, ink, paper and so on are crucial to any business whether online or not. Other expenses to consider are shipping costs, postage, advertising fees, transportation or fuel costs. Take note of any licenses or dues for your business. Write down renewal or expiration dates for licenses or memberships that are required to run your business. Forecast your business expenses several months ahead of time; always anticipate changes in cash flow.
Use your own business instinct
Years ago, the mortgage industry took a turn for the worse. The economy impacts your business directly or indirectly at some point, so use your own gut instincts. It probably wouldn’t make good business sense to create a company that will not flourish in a bad economy. Some businesses will do better than others dependent upon the service or product being offered no matter what the state of economy is. By doing good research and creating a business plan you can ensure that you will be able to run your business with success!