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Business Week

A Detailed Business Plan Template for Your Home or Small Business

A Guide to Your Business Plan

So you want to start a new business! Be it online or offline, a business plan is an essential ingredient to the success of your venture. The trouble with most business plans is they are to difficult to understand and appear overwhelming to most small business entrepreneurs. I have made the job easier by providing a format with self explanatory sections for you to follow. It’s a simple business plan with a lot of power when you need to source funding or show clients, among a host of other benefits.

What does my business plan look like?

Executive summary

type of business

company summary

management

product / service, competition

funding, use of funds

financial statement & projections

legal & financial structure

risks & exit

ad hoc swot

1. Background and purpose

1.1. product/service: what is your business? detailed description.

1.2. history: when did you start? how has the business been developing? achievements.

1.3. vision: what do you want to become? what path makes your company better than its competitors?

1.4. mission: the core values of your business. why this business and how you want to shape it?

1.5. milestones:

1.5.1. long term: a way to measure the vision

1.5.2. short-medium term: stages & goals, measurements

1.6. resources required:

1.6.1. critical resources: to back up key success factors

1.6.2. overall resources: to guarantee you can deliver

1.6.3. funding and use of funds: the proposal

2. Objectives

2.1. short term:

– outcomes which can be achieved within one year

– quantitative measurement: efficiency

– example: sales, gross margin, market share

2.2. long term:

– outcomes which require more time to be measured

– can be quantitative and qualitative

– effectiveness will show the sustainability of the business proposal

3. Market and industry analysis

3.1. overall & specific data

3.1.1. type of industry / service

3.1.2. mainstream / niche: market potential, demographics

3.1.3. stage of growth: emerging, growth, maturity

3.1.4. existing similar markets: other regions/countries

3.2. competitive analysis

3.2.1. statement of opportunity: sustainable competitive edge, resource based competitive analysis

3.2.2. review of your competitors strategies

3.3. five forces

3.3.1. bargaining power of buyers

3.3.2. bargaining power of suppliers

3.3.3. threat of relevant substitutes

3.3.4. threats of new entrants (entry barriers)

3.3.5. rivalry among firms (influenced by the other four factors)

3.4. macro & micro factors

3.4.1. global & international: trade agreements, war

3.4.2. national: taxation, regulations, patent protection

3.4.3. local: incentives, infrastructures

3.5. key success factors, a review of your strategic management

4. Production & Operations

4.1. processes & procedures

4.1.1. input, process, output

4.1.2. logistics: store, warehouse, deliveries

4.1.3. equipments, tools, it infrastructure

4.1.4. organization charts: responsibilities, information flows

4.2. thresholds

4.2.1. output capacity: measurement, peaks

4.2.2. stages of output increase: bottlenecks

4.3. resources

4.3.1. technical resources: equipment, software

4.3.2. physical resources: raw material, power supply

4.3.3. human resources: non substitutable for the output

4.4. quality assurance

4.4.1. prototyping, testing, approvals

4.4.2. incoming qc: sampling procedures

4.4.3. outgoing qc: sampling procedures

4.5. customer service

4.5.1. technical support: call center, on-site

4.5.2. warranty: policy, returns

5. Marketing plan

5.1. overall concept & orientation

5.1.1. target customer group(s)

5.1.2. customer awareness

5.1.3. customer satisfaction

5.1.4. customer loyalty

5.2. strategy

5.2.1. price strategy (leadership, differentiation, focus)

5.2.2. distribution strategy

5.2.3. communication strategy

5.2.4. perceived value

5.3. 4 p’s (can be combined with 3.2.)

5.3.1. product

5.3.2. price

5.3.3. place

5.3.4. promotion

5.4. sales forecasts

5.4.1. short term: detailed (month, region…)

5.4.2. long term

5.5. market share

5.5.1. short term

5.5.2. long term

6. Financial plan

6.1. financial projections (1st year monthly, 2nd year quarterly)

6.1.1. p&l (income statement)

6.1.2. cash flow (justify for variations)

6.1.3. balance sheet (yearly)

6.1.4. investments plan

6.2. source & use of funds

6.2.1. present situation (shareholders, loans if any)

6.2.2. requirements (need in working capital + investments)

6.2.3. proposed funding (shareholding, loan, bridge loan)

6.2.4. use of funds (destination & schedule)

7. Human resources

7.1. management team

7.1.1. individual / team (resumes in appendixe)

7.1.2. education, experience, skills & know how

7.2. skilled resources (key personnel)

7.2.1. hired

7.2.2. identified but not yet hired (funding)

7.2.3. to be found (head hunting…)

7.3. unskilled resources

7.3.1. issue about turnover rate (cost…)

7.3.2. issue about continuous hiring (training…)

7.4. packages & salaries

7.4.1. overall policy (market rate, yearly increase…)

7.4.2. incentives (commissions, bonus…)

7.4.3. specific packages (stock options)

7.5. hr strategy

7.5.1. set of values (refer to mission)

7.5.2. internal communication (intranet, group events)

8. Ownership

8.1. legal & financial structure

8.1.1. form of business

8.1.2. shareholding (equity position)

8.1.3. proposed deal structure (if any)

8.1.4. next round of financing (if any)

8.2. Exit strategy

8.2.1. independent growth (self financing)

8.2.2. ipo

8.2.3. bought over / merging

9. Critical risks

9.1. risks factors

9.1.1. categories (what if? and answers)

9.1.2. plan(s) “b” & book value (if …

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Business Week

Entrepreneurs – Some Low Cost Business Ideas

You want to go into business, but you don’t have much money, or you don’t want to invest too much into a new business. So, what are a few low start up cost businesses that you can start?
Well, first of all there are some areas that will always have needs and small businesses can satisfy these needs. Top of the list are the service industries:
Services Industries: House and office cleaning, lawn mowing, ironing, window cleaning and pool cleaning. The key to success here is to check what is required in your local area. Work out first what you have skills at and want you want to do in the future. Now put some low cost adverts out onto supermarket and shop notice boards, free newspapers etc. Ask around your friends and peers and check what kind of demand there is. These are all locally based businesses so local advertising, which is cheaper, will keep your costs down for you.
Craft Selling: If you have some kind of craft skills, then this is the group for you to look at. This can include making and selling gifts, clothing, printing T shirts, artwork etc. Or you could even set up a business selling other peoples’ crafts! This is a slightly more expensive type of business to set up, because you have to not only buy your craft stock, but you also have to rent or lease some kind of retail outlet. This could range from eBay and etsy to boot sales, markets and kiosks.
Service Industries: If you have a skill and the required certificates and licences then some services such as the care and beauty areas are always in demand, whether you want to be a manicurist or senior carer, this is a low cost business start up. You need to network and make contacts that can refer your business as well as advertise.
Mobile Services: The last section of low cost start up companies, do require you to purchase a vehicle, but otherwise they are relatively easy to set up. This kind of business ranges from mobile caterers, car cleaners/detailers, car tuners, hair dressers, food delivers, dog grooming etc. The key to success here is to establish a good round or group of customers. This can be done, either by just booking a route in the case of mobile caterers or advertising and networking in the case of hair dressers and dog groomers.
Which ever low cost business you decide to start – good luck.…

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Business Week

How To Make a Buying a Business Checklist

Business brokers often encourage business buyers to have a “buying a business checklist”, an important tool if buyers are serious about purchasing a company and not wasting a lot of time looking. Only 20% of all potential business buyers within California actually end up purchasing a small business. In fact, the failure to buy a business often can be chalked up to not following the proven suggestions listed below.
The main items that should go into that checklist are:
1. Getting personally prepared: This includes putting together a buyer profile, including financial statement, description of what you want, and a resume summarizing your work experience. These documents demonstrate you are a “real” buyer, deserving of cooperation from sellers, business brokers, and agents. The information is personal, of course, and should only be shown to sellers who have a business you might want, or brokers whom you believe are honest and professional. Willingness to be upfront about your interests and capabilities will immediately separate you from the majority of people searching for business opportunities but, for one reason or another, will never complete a purchase. Another preparation strategy is to apply for an SBA-backed loan pre-qualification. Buyers who do this find out how much money they will have to work with, and can gain a competitive advantage over buyers who look for a business first, and go searching for money second.
2. Organizing a team: The purchaser who has a lawyer and accountant listed on his or her buying a business checklist will be in a position to move quickly once an interesting business is found. This means of course that the professionals are ready to be of service–the lawyer helping with language in the contracts and protecting you from problems, the accountant to help value a business and conduct due diligence. While other buyers interested in a particular business are trying to find the professional help they’ll need to proceed, the entrepreneur who has taken care of that step will be able to move more quickly than competing purchasers.
3. Cast a wide net. The more businesses you’re aware of, the better the chances of encountering just the right offering in a short period of time. That means working with more than one broker, answering for sale by owner ads, even posting a business wanted to buy request.
4. Respect the sellers’ requests for confidentiality. And be ready to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Showing that you are honest and “above board” will earn the cooperation of sellers. And without that, it’s nearly impossible to buy a business.
5. Try for a win-win in negotiations with someone whose business you’d like to buy. The purchaser who wants to beat a seller in the price and terms aspects of a deal, might find he’s taken “round one” but then when extra help is needed–a bit longer to pay off the note or advice about some confusing aspect of running the company–the seller will be unwilling to accommodate.
6. Pay attention to the details when a transaction is in escrow. After all the work and excitement as you come to the end of the buying a business checklist, it’s a shame to lose a deal over some issue that might have been avoided had you noticed a developing problem and taken action right away. Make certain the escrow holder is competent and is doing everything that was promised.
Buying a small business is not rocket science, but it can be rather complicated and detailed. Make sure to be fully prepared, and that includes making up a buying a business checklist before you answer the first business for sale ad!…

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Business Week

7 Ideas For Your Business Blog

Blogging for business is a fabulous way to promote your website, because it keeps the content fresh and that attracts new visitors, keeps people coming back for more AND lets the search engines know your website is active. But inspiration often dries up after the first few posts – so what can you blog about? Here are some ideas to keep you blogging!
Blog about new products: Have you just started offering a new service or product? Blog about it! Write about the benefits to your potential customers, and then tweet about the new post or promote it on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Blog about companies you work with: We all use a variety of services to help us run our business. Why not blog about a good experience you’ve had with another company? Not only will it increase traffic to your own site, but if you let the other business know about your post, they might blog about you in return!
Blog about relevant stories in the news: Keep an eye on relevant industry news stories and blog about them. These are easy posts to make – so long as you link back to the original article, you can copy and paste the most interesting sections and just add a comment to give your own spin to the story.
Blog in pictures or, better still, in video: Videos on YouTube receive over 2 BILLION views A DAY, and more and more businesses are seeing the benefits of promoting through video. Make a video about your business, post it on your blog and add it to YouTube. You can film a process you do online, speak to camera about an area of your business that will help others, or even find a relevant video and comment on that.Failing that, use photos relevant to your business to brighten up a post.
Blog about what you’re up to: If you’ve been working on an interesting project, or with a new client, the story can make an interesting blog article. You’ll probably want to check that your client is happy for you to talk about them, but so long as you give them a link back to their website most people won’t mind!
Blog your knowledge: We all have information about our particular industry that we can share. Give some of it away in a blog post! Try writing a “top tips” list like this one, or sharing a couple of “industry secrets”.
Blog on other people’s blogs: This one is harder to organise but try striking up friendships with other bloggers in complementary industries, offer to write on their blog – and ask them to blog for you too! “Guest blogging” is becoming very common now – it gives your blog a fresh perspective and you’ll get the guest blogger’s fans coming over to your blog to see what’s going on!…

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Business Week

Small Home Business Ideas To Make Money Online

With the increase in the Internet and a global economy more and more people are looking to make money online. Since other employment avenues are becoming scarce and this is the only part of the economy that is growing – it has become a viable option to replace your job.
In this article we will share with you some tips on how to start you own small home business to make money online.
1. Think different but be the same
In the real world you would be looking to differentiate your product from other competitors. This is true for the Internet as well, and you will need to come up with a point of difference to make money online. However, offline businesses make money when they sell necessities, on the Internet you don’t necessarily need to focus on necessities to get results. In fact products that don’t do so well in the real world, end up making millions on the Internet.
This means to look at your products from a very detailed and deep point of view. For e.g. if you are looking to sell a physical product think in these lines organic pet food, or hamster cages etc. These products would probably not be very profitable as a local business. The Internet creates this a global business and allows you to serve every community that is looking to buy organic pet food.
2. A thousand words are better than a picture
This is one that most people get wrong. We think that a picture is better than a thousand words. On the internet search engines look for content ‘words’ – so it is better for your website to have a thousand words than have one picture there. Remember, content is king.
The more content you are able to create and distribute the better the chances. Think of this like going to a well. The more water it contains the more the people from the town will want to go to it. Or a more modern example – a video rental store, the more movies it has on catalog, the more people it will cater. So the more content you website has the more people will come to your website.
3. Make friends with your customers.
If you go to your local stores, to buy clothes or groceries the chances are that you will probably not know the owner, especially if you live in a city.
However, if the owner came unto you and introduced himself to you and directly offered his services to you, you would be thoroughly impressed with the customer service.
Think of doing online business as the same, you meet your customers every day – become friends with them and take care of them. The more you do this the more they will want to come back to you. And the easier it will be for you to make money online from you small home business ideas.…

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Business Week

Marketing Tips That Involve Using Videos For Promotion

Marketing Tips That Involve Using Videos For Promotion

You need to take advantage of as many good opportunities as you can in today’s world. Video marketing can give you the competitive edge you need. The article below details the things you must do to successfully use video marketing to boost your business.

You can edit your videos when they are placed on YouTube so you should use this to your advantage. You can add comments and text in your video. You can thus share links, add more information or place coupon codes in the video package.

Make sure all your videos are 20 minutes or less. If you are unable to do everything in twenty minutes, either make more than one video or cut down the information that you are trying to get across. On the other hand, a video focusing on general descriptions or advertisements should take no longer than 10 minutes.

Be sure you optimize the videos you’re putting up. As you put your videos on different sites, come up with a separate title and description for them all. In addition, ensure you’re including the targeted keywords. Include links for your other forms of social media so that potential customers can find you.

When you produce video marketing content, do not get stuck on the production value of your content. The production value of your video is not related to your results. You should focus on the quality of your content and on sharing your video efficiently. Large companies have struck it big by just using demos made by individual employees from their companies.

If product promotion is something you need, video marketing can be a helpful conduit. Demonstrations are particularly effective at getting people to become confident in products. Actually seeing what the product does is a great way to get someone to purchase something.

Always place a small form within the video’s page for linking to the mailing-list registration form. When people see the video, they may want to learn more, giving you the best opportunity to promote your product.

When it comes to your marketing videos, choose a consistent tone. A laugh-out-loud funny video can be equally as successful as a how to video. You need to keep in mind both your product and your target audience. Keeping these things in mind while determining the image you’d like your business to project is going to let you know what sort of marketing videos work for you.

Get viewers to take action when viewing your videos. This is commonly referred to as a “call to action”. If the goal of your video is to get people to subscribe to your newsletter, place a link to a newsletter subscription page in the description of your video and mention your newsletter in the video. They key to this working is to make it simple for your viewers.

Making videos for your business is a great way to grow your business. Make use of the tips you’ve just read and be creative. Keep in mind all the hard work that was put into creating your business. You should do this with your videos as well. It may be the best thing that ever happened to your business.…