The Ecommerce Business Plan

This is where the online business venture begins.The ecommerce business plan is a plan of action, without which nothing of real value can ever be achieved. The ecommerce business plan will cover a number of features from the design of the web site to the fulfillment service methods; each of these features should be the best available with a heavy bias towards the customer. The product, around which the whole ecommerce business plan will revolve, will have to fulfill certain criteria in order to make the online venture a success. These are:

Homogeneity – the product, though obtained from different suppliers/sources will have to be of a homogenous quality and dimensions. Whether it is a mobile set or a book the item should be favorably comparable to the ones that are bought elsewhere.

Ability to ship the product – before you launch your online venture you should find out whether the product can be shipped easily. This is will a daunting task if the product is bulky or very fragile. If the customer cannot get the product quickly and in tact, you will loose repeat customers and word of mouth advertising.

Cost of delivery – in similar manner heavier items will cost more to deliver to the door step than lightweight items. The cost of delivery is an important factor that decides the customer uses when deciding whether or not to buy an item. Hence, keep this cost as low as possible.

Cost of the product – many customers are attracted to the online shopping because they get many of their favorite products at a much lower cost than in the real- shops. You need to keep the cost at least 10 percent less than what is available in the brick-and-mortar market.

Availability – do you plan to have a good stock of the product that you propose to sell or do you have a good tie-up with some supplier(s) which can provide you with the product on the spot. If the product is not available easily to the customer – after the payment is processed – you will have a very unhappy customer.

Target market – think whether you need to address the needs of a certain age group, geographical area, or it is to be available for all people, all over the world.

Business Planning For Recession Survival and Recovery

The New Basics of Business

With unemployment continuing to rise, home prices falling due to a surplus of inventory, and small business lending at a standstill, this recession doesn’t seem likely to end soon. The recovery will be slow and Americans will certainly not enjoy the prosperity of a few years ago for a long time to come. It’s not just economists who think this way. “Half the population in [a] new ABC News poll thinks both job security and retirement prospects in the years ahead will remain worse than their pre-recession levels.” (“Poll: Less Job Security is the ‘New Normal,'” ABC News The Polling Unit, June 15, 2009, analysis by Gary Langer) This confidence, or lack thereof, is an integral part of an economic cycle. The analysis goes on to say, “Those diminished expectations – plus the pain of the current downturn – are fueling retrenchments in consumer behavior that could fundamentally reshape the economy.”

Basically, consumers are hunkering down to limit spending, save money, conserve resources, and change the way they’ve been living. The major influence on the health of an economy is the psychological state of its consumers. When there exists a broad belief that spending beyond necessity is unwise, people will change their habits and as a result, some businesses will have to close their doors. The economy is molting into a new, leaner animal. Rather than react in desperation to avoid doom, firms should interact with the current situation with innovative and forward thinking actions.

No matter the economic slump, increasing profits is typically the number one goal of any business. To ensure profitability, a company must demonstrate a competitive advantage over others in its industry, either by cost leadership (same product as competitors, lower price), differentiation (same price, better services), or focusing on an exclusive segment of the market (niche). For long term maintenance of competitive advantage, a firm must ensure that its methods cannot be duplicated or imitated. This requires constant analysis and regular reinvention of competitive strategies.

A recession is the optimal time to reinvent competitive advantage because the pressure of a feeble economy will separate the strong businesses from the weak ones, with the weak falling out of the game entirely. Your business will be strong if you have a plan of action based upon a little industry research, an analysis of what you have and what you want, and continuous monitoring of the results of your plan. This kind of innovation is not only a necessity right now, but it is an opportunity to improve the quality and efficiency in the way you do business.

The three basic actions for growing a business in any economic climate are: improve efficiency (maintain output while reducing inputs, such as time and money); increase volume (produce more in order to spread fixed costs); reorganize the business (change goals, methods and/or philosophy). If you plan to implement one of these, you may as well plan to implement them all. By focusing on one of the above strategies, you will find a ripple effect that causes a need to address the others. This is a good thing.

Right now, growth may sound like an unattainable goal as businesses are grappling just to survive, but hey, “flat is the new up.” If a business can keep its doors open and lights on, then it’s doing better than many others. But lights and open doors don’t make sales, so making changes that attract business is in a sense, striving for growth. It won’t be this tough forever, but for now, putting some growth strategies into action may be what keeps your business alive, if not thriving.

Every Business Needs a Plan

Without a plan, there is little hope for growth, let alone survival. As my small business development counselor, Terry Chambers says, “If it’s not written, it’s not real.” That doesn’t mean it’s unchangeable, but it does show that you mean business. In order to accomplish your strategies of improving efficiency, increasing volume, and reorganizing your business, you’ve got to examine what you have, what you want, and how you plan to get there.

Sometimes it takes a significant event or change in existing conditions for a business to create a written plan. I think it’s safe to say that the state of the economy is a significant change that should prompt business owners to alter the way they’ve been doing things. If you already have a business plan, it’s time to get it out and revise it. Make sure your plan includes answers to these questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • What do I have to work with?
  • How have I done in the past?
  • What might I do in the future?
  • What will I do now?
  • How will I do it?
  • Is it working?

A business plan can be used as a vehicle for accurate communication among principals, managers, staff, and outside sources of capital. It will also help to identify, isolate, and solve problems in your structure, operations, and/or finances. Along with these advantages, a business plan captures a view of the big picture, which makes a company better prepared to take advantage of opportunities for improvement and/or handle crises.

Essentially, the three main elements of a business plan are strategies, actions, and financial projections. In order to cover all of the principle elements, you will engage in other types of planning:

  • Marketing plan: Includes analysis of your target market (your customers), as well as the competition within that market, and your marketing strategy. This plan is usually part of the strategic plan.
  • Strategic plan: Asses the impact of the business environment (STEER analysis: Socio-cultural, Technological, Economic, Ecological, and Regulatory factors). Includes company vision, mission, goals and objectives, in order to plan three to five years into the future.
  • Operational planning: With a focus on short-term actions, this type of planning usually results in a detailed annual work plan, of which the business plan contains only the highlights.
  • Financial planning: The numerical results of strategic and operational planning are shown in budgets and projected financial statements; these are always included in the business plan in their entirety.
  • Feasibility study: Before you decide to start a business or add something new to an existing business, you should perform an analysis of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis), as well as its financial feasibility, then asses its potential sales volume.

The process of business planning does not end when the written plan is complete. Business planning is a cycle, which includes the following steps:

  1. Put your plan of action in writing.
  2. Make decisions and take action based upon the plan.
  3. Gauge the results of those actions against your expectations.
  4. Explore the differences, whether positive or negative, and write it all down.
  5. Modify your business plan based upon what you learned.

President of Palo Alto Software, Inc. and business planning coach Tim Berry says, “Planning isn’t complete unless you’ve planned for review.” Review is the fundamental action that initiates putting your business plan into action. In his blog at Entrepreneur.com, Berry lists some insightful strategies to making good use of your plan review, a few of which include keeping the review meetings as brief as possible and an emphasis on metrics as key to effective review.

Write your business plan in sessions. Don’t think that you have to produce a business plan before go to bed tonight or you won’t be able to open your doors for business tomorrow. I like Tim Berry’s Plan-As-You-Go method of business planning. The practice of planning is an effective way to really get to know your business and you might end up discovering some important things about your company and about yourself.

There are various strategies and outlines available that will guide you in choosing the appropriate format for your business plan. Check out the collection of sample business plans for a variety of businesses at Bplans dot com. Every business is different, therefore every business plan will be structured differently, but for the purposes of this white paper, I will present the fundamental elements that make up strategic, operational, and financial planning. Here is a basic outline, thanks to NxLevel® for Entrepreneurs (2005, Fourth Edition):

General Business Plan Outline
Cover Page
Table of Contents
Executive Summary

Mission, Goals and Objectives

General Description of the Business
Stage of Development
General Growth Plan Description
Mission Statement
Goals and Objectives

Background Information

The Industry
Background Industry Information
Current/Future Industry Trends
The Business Fit in the Industry

Organizational Matters

Business Structure, Management and Personnel
Management
Personnel
Outside Services/Advisors
Risk Management
Operating Controls
Recordkeeping Functions
Other Operational Controls

The Marketing Plan

Products/Services
Products/Services Description
Features/Benefits
Life Cycles/Seasonality
Growth Description (Future Products/Services)
The Market Analysis
Customer Analysis
Competitive Analysis
Market Potential
Current Trade Area Description
Market Size and Trends
Sales Volume Potential (Current and Growth)
Marketing Strategies
Location/Distribution
Price/Quality Relationship
Promotional Strategies
Packaging
Public Relations
Advertising
Customer Service

The Financial Plan

Financial Worksheets
Salaries/Wages & Benefits
Outside Services
Insurance
Advertising Budget
Occupancy Expense
Sales Forecasts
Cost of Projected Product Units
Fixed Assets
Growth (or Start-Up) Expenses
Miscellaneous Expenses
Cash Flow Projections
Break-Even Analysis
Monthly Cash Flow Projections – First Year
Notes to Cash Flow Projections (Assumptions)
Annual Cash Flow Projections – Years Two and Three
Financial Statements
Projected Income Statement
Balance Sheet
Statement of Owner’s Equity
Additional Financial Information
Summary of Financial Needs
Existing Debt
Personal Financial Statement

Appendix Section

Action Log
Supporting Documents (Resumes, Research Citations, etc.)

Executive Summary

A business plan starts with an executive summary, which is a one or two page summary of your business plan, or an introduction to your business. Although this section is at the beginning of the business plan, it is the last thing to be written. You’ll be able to condense your business plan more succinctly once you have the opportunity to work through the other parts of the plan. The executive summary may be the only thing a potential investor or financier will read, so write it last because it has to be the most compelling.

Start by writing a description of your business, including what stage of development it is currently in (conception, start-up, first year, mature, exit) and your plans for growth. Discuss the nature of your business, the main products and services you offer, the market for your products and services, and how and by whom the business is operated.

Mission Statement

Then work on your mission statement. Here is where you concisely state the focus, scope and hope of your business (or values, vision, philosophy, and purpose). What is the customer pain you are soothing, the need you fulfill? Here’s an example from Coca-Cola:

Our Roadmap starts with our mission, which is enduring. It declares our purpose as a company and serves as the standard against which we weigh our actions and decisions.

  • To refresh the world…
  • To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…
  • To create value and make a difference.

PepsiCo has a different take:

Our mission is to be the world’s premier consumer products company focused on convenient foods and beverages. We seek to produce financial rewards to investors as we provide opportunities for growth and enrichment to our employees, our business partners and the communities in which we operate. And in everything we do, we strive for honesty, fairness and integrity.

This is the mission statement of Inspiration Software, Inc.:

Our company strives to support improvements in education and business and to make a positive difference in our users’ lives by providing software tools that help people of all ages use visual thinking and visual learning to achieve academic, professional and personal goals.

Goals and Objectives

Next, outline your company goals and objectives, including long-term and short-term goals. You will get into more detail on how the goals will be accomplished in your operational plan and annual work plan, so focus on brevity at this stage. There is a difference between goals and objectives and it’s important to know what that is. I like how Andrew Smith explains it in The Business Plan Blog. Objectives are non-emotional, precise descriptions of what is needed to achieve a goal. Goals can involve emotion and don’t have to be as specific as objectives. Objectives are the steps to actualizing the goal. Here’s an example:

Goal:

To increase revenues by 50% by the end of the year.

Objectives:

Add a new product to our line.
Expand marketing outside of local area.
Develop a new customer retention strategy.

Of course, you will need a plan of strategies in order to accomplish each objective, but those details will be expounded upon in your annual work plan. A list of three short-term and three long-term goals, along with the objectives necessary to achieve them, is sufficient for most business plans. Remember to replace the goals and objectives with new ones as you check them off your list.

Background Information

The section that details the background information should start with identifying the industry your business is in. Even if you are not a member or have no intention of becoming involved, you should list any trade associations within that industry; you never know when you made need those connections. Find out what publications, magazines or journals are available to businesses in your industry. Use these and other sources of business information to identify how past trends (economic, social, political) affected the industry, as well as any current or future trends that may have an impact.

How does your business fit in the industry? What is the history of your business, including who started it, what changes have occurred, when was it started, where was and is it located, how was it started and operated, and why it was started? What barriers to entry, if any, have you recognized?

Organizational Matters

The ownership hierarchy of your business, the management structure, and the personnel are described in the section on organizational matters. This part of the plan deals with who, what and how your business runs. Who is in charge of what and how are they qualified? Discuss how the various parts of your business interact together; include details about outside contractors and consultants and what functions they perform. See the example below, thanks to Edraw Soft Vector-Based Graphic Design.

The organizational section of the business plan also needs to include an explanation of your record keeping process, checks and balances, and control management systems. Anyone who reads your business plan should be able to understand the organizational procedures for running your business day-to-day, as well as in an emergency situation.

The risk management plan needs to be fleshed out in the organizational section as well, including your risk strategy, the different types of insurance required, your contingency plans, and problem-solving protocols. What will you do if a natural disaster ruins part of your inventory? How will you handle the sudden illness or long-term absence of a key manager? What happens if you are unable to finish a project on schedule? What are some early warning signs to watch for?

It may not be pleasant to imagine all the “what ifs,” but doing it now and planning for those unexpected events will improve your company’s chances of surviving a storm. For an excellent step-by-step guide on the details of developing a risk management plan, see the article “How to Develop a Risk Management Plan,” by Charles Tremper at wikiHow.com.

Marketing Plan

The next section, themarketing plan, gets into the details of what your business offers and what market it serves. Marketing is the communication of how your products and services “ease customer pain.” Show the problem and how your business solves it. Marketing is a necessity for every business because once your doors are open, you must invite customers to come in. Everything you do in your business that affects customers is marketing because it sends a message about your company.

This part of the plan details the features and benefits of your products and services, their seasonality and life cycle, as well as any future products and services you are planning. It also includes a thorough market analysis, in which you will study your customers, your competition and the market itself. Here you should include a PEST analysis, in which you will consider the impact of various factors upon your business. The factors include combinations of the following, depending upon your business: social, technological, economic, environmental, political, legal, ethical, and demographic.

Studying your market will give you insight as to how you can make your business more appealing to people. Market research is more than just noticing trends in your customers’ buying habits; it’s discovering what motivates your customer to buy. Don’t assume that you already know because you’ve been in this business for years. This study often unearths characteristics about your market that are hidden or new. It’s best to discover these things before your competition.

Another key element to the marketing section of your business plan is an outline of your marketing objectives, strategies, and tactics. Writing down the avenues you travel in order to market your business will afford you the opportunity to record what worked and what didn’t work. You must be able to measure and calculate the results of your marketing efforts, otherwise, what’s the point? If you don’t know if something is working for or against you, then it’s working against you.

Include details about all of the following that are applicable to your business in the marketing section of your plan: location and distribution, and promotional strategies, such as packaging, public relations, advertising, and customer service. As a result of exploring these areas, you will naturally need to consider how much you will budget for your marketing efforts. This question is closely connected to your sales forecast, which leads us into the next section of the business plan.

Financial Plan

The financial plan consists of four sections: Financial Worksheets, Cash Flow Projections, Financial Statements, and Additional Financial Information. All of these components will tell the story of how you plan to start or grow your business from a financial perspective. It is vital that you explain the assumptions under which you have based your projections, for example, “We assume that there are no unforeseen changes in economic policy to make our products and service immediately obsolete.” or “We assume interest rates will stay the same over the next three years.” (both quotes from Bplans.com sample business plans)

I suggest that you construct easy to read tables and graphs for the financial portion of the plan. The worksheets suggested are: Salaries/Wages and Benefits, Outside Services, Insurance, Advertising Budget, Occupancy Expense, Sales Forecasts, Cost of Projected Product Units, Fixed Assets, Growth (or Start-Up) Expenses, and Miscellaneous Expenses. You may find some of the worksheet templates at PlanWare.org to be useful.

The expected revenues and expenses for at least a year should be projected in the cash flow section of the Financial Plan. It’s better to make conservative predictions rather than be too optimistic when it comes to cash flows. As part of this section, a break-even analysis is essential. This is the “amount of units sold or sales dollars necessary to recover all expenses associated with generating these sales.” (NxLevel for Entrepreneurs, 2005) The formula for calculating the break-even quantity is Total Fixed Costs/(Price – Average Variable Costs).

The financial statements section should show the way things are now if you have an existing business, as well as a forward look at your checking account, or projected income statement. The only way a start-up company can provide an income statement and balance sheet is by projecting these figures based upon well defined assumptions. Both start-ups and existing businesses should include a statement of owner’s equity.

An income statement shows revenues minus expenses, in order to calculate net income or net loss. Start-ups should project these expected results for the first twelve months of business, then quarterly for the next two years. A list of a company’s assets (what you own), liabilities (what you owe), and net worth (assets minus liabilities) is called a balance sheet. The statement of owner’s equity shows the owner’s initial investment, additional investments, and retained earnings, minus owner withdrawals.

The additional financial information at the end of this part of the plan should give a summary of your business’s financial needs in order to grow, show its debt position, and state the owner’s financial status.

Appendix

In the appendix, which is the final section, an action plan or timeline for implementing the business plan should be presented. This is where the detailed goals and objectives are expanded in a work plan. Also, include in this section any additional information or supporting documents that are relevant to your business plan, such as important research, marketing materials, product specifications, and owner and employee résumés.

Executive Summary

Now that you have written the hard part of your business plan, it’s time to write the fun part, the executive summary. As mentioned in the beginning of this white paper, this is the most important piece of the business plan because it illustrates the very essence of your business in a captivating and condensed form. If you ever share your business plan with a potential investor or potential buyer, the executive summary may be the only thing that is read.

Make the executive summary brief (no more than two pages), but make sure you showcase the best qualities of your business without glossing over important information; show why yours is a winning business. Write one to three sentences about each of the following:

  • General description of the business
  • Mission statement
  • Management structure
  • Business operations
  • Products/services, the market and your customer
  • Your marketing plan, including the competition
  • Financial projections and plans

A clear, concise, and convincing executive summary will intrigue your audience and inspire them to read the rest of your plan. If the plan is never seen by anyone outside of your business, don’t assume it was a waste of time. During the planning process, you will have worked through an enlightening exercise that prepares you to run and grow a better business.

Having this written document available for frequent consultation and review will improve your chances of not only surviving, but coming out strong on the other side of this recession. Most people think that knowing in the back of their mind what they plan to do is sufficient for survival or recovery, but the difference between a written plan and an idea is usually the difference between failure and success.

Three Components of an Online Business Plan

The first thing any internet marketer should do is come up with an online business plan. This is the crucial element that will help you treat your web ventures with the same amount of respect and dedication that you would an offline entrepreneurial pursuit. In other words, preparation is what you need to succeed. Here are the components that should be part of your blueprint.

Topic Choice

Everything starts with the idea meant to generate income. This is where you have to ask yourself what topic you want to specialize in. For most marketers, the first real decision they have to make is to choose between working in an obscure niche or in a large, popular one. Obviously, going into online business planning for popular topics will give you more avenues to earn but it will also push you towards greater competition. Obscure niche markets have less completion but fewer ways to make money out of.

When you’ve picked an area of concentration, you then have to determine how to monetize it. Some marketers hope to earn mainly from advertising but the big bucks really come from affiliate marketing and product or service promotion.

Before you aggressively market your site and its contents, arrange for a soft launch or test drive first. This will enable you to determine at this early stage in your online business plans if visitors can convert to sales. The easiest way to test this is through the use of pay per click advertising.

Marketing Strategy

When you’ve determined the profitability of your chosen niche, the second phase is to market it. There are many different ways to do this but in the online world much of your success hinges on search engine optimization. At the onset, this would primarily mean link building. This is what you need to get your site ranked in search engines and to get it discovered by potential customers.

There are many ways to approach link generation. There are a lot of expertly made online business plans however that mainly emphasize article marketing coupled with video marketing. Although both involve two different kinds of content, both can carry back links to your site and both have the potential to capture the attention of real readers. You can easily make materials that are intended to just carry your links. It is often best though to make them specifically to assist or inform real humans.

Contracting Work

You may have to use up a lot of your own time at the beginning of a marketing campaign. For the most part though, you don’t need to waste a lot of your time on recurring tasks such as content production. These can be contracted to freelancers or small outsource companies in other countries. Aside from saving time, outsourcing can also help you save cash. These days, it is far cheaper to pay contractors or companies for web projects than to hire local workers.

Your online business plan can actually be more complicated than this simple outline. These three components however are the most essential ones you should pay attention to. Get these right the first time and you will be setting yourself up for a successful future in the internet.

Why Coaching is Vital to Your Home Business Plan

There are some secrets to a successful home business plan that almost nobody knows about (except a few, elite gurus)… That once in your hands can mean building a profitable home business is actually a reality.

The frustrations of getting poor results will disappear within a few days of discovering these secrets!

My own Home Business Plan has always been strong on personal development and coaching. Having a constant stream of vital information, training and feedback on your daily activities, your work habits and personal development is immensely beneficial.

You can rise to the challenge of changing your income, doing it in a way that feels great, and taking power over your business, your activities and your results.

In this home business plan, I reveal my top mental and practical strategies behind a profitable business, so you can achieve a consistent and long-term income. Having the right guidance when you embark on an online home business plan can genuinely change the way you think about your mindset and work ethics and give you success in more ways than just the money you earn.

For example, you need to understand:

* Ways in which your mind can play tricks on you & how to retrain your brain

* The secrets that most mentors and trainers fail to talk about – and it ends up sabotaging the new home business owner to ultimate failure!

* The ONLY way to make money online and KEEP earning money (I discovered this secret only AFTER losing loads of my hard earned cash on all kinds of schemes and dreams – and I’ve been able to keep generating income each month ever since!)

* The home business plan that actually allows you to pick and choose your methods of advertising but tells you the core marketing that is working right now for the top leaders in this industry (who said you had to buy leads, cold call people or harass your friends and family was totally misinformed)

* Easy ways to learn and start integrating new activities into your week and the kinds of marketing that give you maximum lead generation.

* How to review your progress & learn how to build on success AND failure.

* How Personal Coaching could your the missing ingredient compared to most home business plans and ‘make money online’ books you may have tried in the past – inspiration, support and guidance is vital to achieving safe, healthy, lasting profit.

My approach to online home business coaching is based on five key things you need to be working on:

1. MINDSET

2. KNOWLEDGE

3. PLANNING

4. ACTIVITY

5. REVIEWING

You know, it’s not always easy to get yourself to do what you have planned to do – that is MAKE MONEY! Believe it or not, motivation can come and go. Developing a consistent work ethic needs all the above to take place, underpinned by good discipline.

It’s that self-mastery along with action that makes the big difference between great success and average performance in a home business plan.

For sure, personality and effective networking with people are important -you need to communicate well to encourage and influence people if you want to build your own team. But there are certain activities in your home business plan that can make it easier or harder to generate leads and convert those to sales and new members.

Some activities will be good use of your time – productive activities – while others will give you constant headaches and waste your time. And there are certain types of activity that will make you more money than others.

Over the past 4-5 years I’ve gone a much different path than many of the internet marketing and home business “coaches” you’ve probably seen online. While most people are creating courses and ebooks to teach people how to make money online where they can sell the product once then move on to their next launch, I decided I wanted to get much more personal with the people I may potentially partner with.

Personal coaching really makes a difference to people’s long-term success. I wanted to be able to work directly, one-on-one with our members to help increase their chances of success. So along with an online ‘university’ curriculum, I opened up an actual coaching programme to support you one-on-one from the comfort of your own home!

It helps that I have THE top marketing education system in the world behind me. In fact through that system and coaching, I am able to market products from a top tier international wealth education company since the commissions provide a huge return on investment for members.

I’d always advise positioning yourself at the highest level so you earn more money from your time and investment in your business. Our success rate is 2-3 X HIGHER then anyone else in the network marketing industry!

From helping hundreds of people to make money online, working from home, ethically and honestly, and earn a residual income for many years, I’ve been able to have a very unique peek into what does and does NOT work for normal, everyday people (like you and me).

Many people I’ve connected with are trying to implement a home business plan that is not profitable and feeling frustrated and spending more money than they are earning. So you need to know what are the absolute key elements to make money on the internet.

Now, before you think I’m some genius, I’ve got to confess this is NOT something I invented. I have shamelessly borrow these ideas from many different programmes – things that I had learned from other top internet marketing and home business gurus that made sense in the light of what I’d learned personally and working with real people on their home business plan.

There are many activities that work, in that you make money (not always a lot mind you and often less than you are spending on business costs) at least in the short term, but at the same time, they each had some potentially fatal flaws that kept almost every “normal” person from succeeding long term with any of them!

I believe strongly that your goal should be long term. You must start to understand what drives you, what motivates you, where your commitment comes from. Your mindset determines your daily activity and reviewing your habits and activities mean you can critique your home business plan in an informed way.

This learning process doesn’t have to take long, half an hour a day is enough. But it should be a continuing cycle of reflection, review and change, if you are to break old ‘bad’ habits and develop new ‘healthy’ ones.

I want to share the importance of personal coaching for this. Because Home Business Coaching obliterates ALL of the roadblocks that hold normal people back from making money online and earning a passive income long term AND because it’s SO easy and SO fast to get started.

When I surveyed those that had followed this plan a few months after they started, I found out that…

The success rate for THIS Marketing Education Coaching programme – combines web based resources, leadership training and online support – was over 200% GREATER than every other programme I had EVER done!

Have A Business Plan

If you’re thinking of starting up your own business but you’re not entirely sure if you’re ready to face the whole new industry, then perhaps some tips will help you make it through. Planning a business will be one of the toughest things you’ll ever go through in your life. One tiny mistake can cost you a fortune. One good decision, on the other hand, will make success easily attainable and before you know it, your business will be bringing you profits in no time.

When deciding on a business plan, a lot of research helps prevent disastrous decision-making and can save you time and money. A research on the type of business you’re interested in venturing in can give you all the facts you need and the things you need to avoid. You can also include in the research the type of competition you’ll be having, and how you can keep up with them. In addition, the market you’re targeting can be elusive or responsive, so make sure you include this in your research.

Also keep in mind that whatever you’re expecting from your planned business should be attainable. In other words, don’t dream too big and stay with the real world. You can’t possibly expect a small business to generate an income worth a fortune for you in less than a year. Make your goals as realistic as possible so that you can be prepared to face anything. Furthermore, the less you’re expecting, the more appreciative you will be in the small things you can achieve. It’ll help build your confidence and become enthusiastic about your business. Your attitude towards your business can also help you a great deal in achieving that ever elusive success.

Don’t take the risks your competitors can pose for granted. Be prepared to compete, and make sure you won’t get left behind. Anticipate the changes in the months to come and prepare to meet the upcoming needs and demands of your consumers. Knowing your business’ strengths and weaknesses and where to apply them can help you identify the risks you might have to face in the future.

You’re investing a reasonable amount of money in setting up your new business, so take all the precautions you can and avoid regretting any decision in the future. You can also try attending free seminars where you can learn a thing or two about business management from experts. Once you’re all set to set up a new business, keep in mind that advertising and investing on a good signage can boost your sales up and attract more consumers. Having back up plans will also work if the primary ones you have seem to be failing you.

Eight Tips for Successful Business Plan Writing

Entrepreneurs and small business owners often ask what the keys to successful business plan writing are. Obvious mistakes and omissions are pretty common – especially for first-time business plan writers who don’t know how to write a business plan. Fortunately, these mistakes are also easy to avoid. Here are eight tips that will help you write a business plan like a pro!

1. Start with the end in mind – In Alice in Wonderland the Cheshire Cat told Alice, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” The same applies to your business and your business plan – If you don’t have a goal, you don’t need a plan.

You already know the importance of a business plan, so sit down and outline your goals before starting to write it. Where do you want the business to be in five years? What is the mission of the business? Do you want a large corporation, or do you just want to live comfortably and pay the bills? Do you want your business to be acquired eventually? By answering questions like this and starting with the end in mind, you will be able to focus your business plan in the right direction.

2. Learn about your customers through market research – You might think you know your customers, but have you actually sat down and talked to them? You can create the coolest widget in the world, but if no one wants your cool widgets, your business will be a bust. Talk to your customers. Do surveys. Lead focus groups. Find out where customers are not getting their needs fulfilled and build a product that fulfills these needs. A little market research can go a long way.

3. Be realistic with your financial projections and expectations – Sure, we’d all love to make a billion dollars in our second year of business, but (unless you’re really lucky) it probably isn’t going to happen. Spend a significant amount of time developing your financial forecasts to make them realistic. Don’t just rely on your gut feeling to make the estimates. Use the information that you’ve gathered from your market research and other sections of your business plan. Creating your pro forma financial statements can be a pain, but it’s very important. You may want to consult with an accountant and lawyer.

4. Don’t ignore the competition – Do you really know who your competitors are? A lot of business owners make the mistake of believing that their business exists in a vacuum. Ignoring your competitors is asking for failure. Analyze where they are at currently and where they are heading. Try and predict how they will react to the introduction of your new products and services. A comprehensive competitive analysis is an important step in successful business plan development.

5. Emphasize what makes you different from your competitors – Differentiation is a key to building a successful business and generating interest in your business plan. As you write your plan, try to bring out what makes your products different from the products already offered on the market. This will make your plan much more interesting and attractive to potential investors.

6. Have your business plan reviewed by a third-party – Remember in high school when your teachers told you to have a friend or parent proofread your papers? Well, it’s still good practice to have someone else review your work. A second set of eyes can really help you uncover out the portions of your plan that are confusing or poorly developed. There are business plan review services all over on the internet that you can use. You can also have a trusted, experienced associate read through your plan.

7. Be willing to take risk – Starting a business takes time and money. It’s possible that you’ll never profit from the time and money you invest. Investors will take a risk by giving your business money. Demonstrate that you are also willing to take some level of risk and include this in your business plan.

8. Don’t give up! – Writing a business plan isn’t an easy task. You can use different tools, such as business plan software or templates, to help make the task easier, but persistence is your greatest tool. Expect the worst-case scenario. You will run into roadblocks during the process of creating your business plan and starting your business, but you shouldn’t let them stop you. Real success and satisfaction usually comes after lots of effort and hard work.

The New Entrepreneur’s Guide to Powerful Business Plans

There’s an old adage that states ‘A business that fails to plan plans to fail.’ One of the top reasons that new businesses fail or enjoy limited success is lack of or ineffective planning. The bottom line is this: you can have the best idea in the world but it is only as good as how well it is put onto paper. The best way to do this is with a business plan and I know in saying this that I am not exactly turning you onto the mother lode.

Business plans are nothing new in the world of business and you may even already have one. That said, there may be some additional applications for the business plan that can help you continue to grow and prosper. Just to summarize, you want to make sure that your business plan contains the following key elements.

First, a business plan should have some sort of summary. This is particularly effective for entrepreneurs who seek venture capital. Many venture capitalists or angel investors read a lot of proposals and see a lot of business plans so a captivating opening summary is a great way to capture and retain their interest. A summary should outline the key aspects of your business, contain some sort of mission statement, and hit the highlights of why the reader should keep turning the pages and learn more.

Next, a business plan should outline the key features of your business. How was the idea or product generated? How is it unique? What makes you and/or your business stand apart from the competition? What market share can you expect to capture with the business running at full steam? In this part of your business plan, you may want to include a detailed description of your products and/or services, especially if they make a compelling argument for why your business stands apart from the crowd.

Next, you will want to include some operational information that outlines how your business is being run. Who are your customers? Why do they want the product or service? How is your business currently being marketed? Who are your current staff, what are their roles, and what growth in staffing do you expect? Answers to these types of questions not only keep you focused, but also address key issues that potential funding sources will need to know.

Next, you will want to include some projections for things like the scope of your customer base, staffing, business volume, and revenue for at least the next five years. Remember, this will not only be appealing to potential funding sources, but will also help keep you on track to reach those goals as your business grows.

Last, a business plan should clearly outline the financial needs of your company. As you might gather, any sort of funding source for your business is going to want to know how much capital you need to reach your goals. Also, you need to be thinking about your capital needs long before you ever seek outside capital. Lack of funding is also a common reason why businesses fail so make sure this is not an overlooked part of your planning process.

In closing, treat the preparation and updating of your business plan as the owner’s manual for what you are working to achieve. In doing so, you will be able to effectively attract capital (as needed) and it will also serve as a sort of written contract between you and your business and it can be remarkable how real your business dreams can unfold, just as planned.

Cut the Fluff, Get to the Good Stuff!

One of the biggest advantages of being a solo-professional in the hyper-dynamic marketplace is the ability to quickly make decisions that adapt to changing conditions.

The value of your business plan is not its weight in paper, but rather in the clarity of the thinking at its core. Too many solo-professionals get stalled by their business plan, because they get caught up in details that are eventually inconsequential to their desired result or overtaken by events in the real world.

To make good decisions in a quickly changing environment, a clear strategy, based on simple principles, provides better guidance than a plan that is thick, detailed and difficult to adjust. By cutting out the fluff and focusing on six core questions, you can create a concise, dynamic template that will clarify the core of your success strategy for yourself and your colleagues.

The purpose of a clear, concise two-page business plan for solo-professionals, is to demonstrate that:

1. that your business project can make money,

2. that you can attract and serve clients who value what you have to offer and who can commit to you, and

3. that you are clear about what the resources you need and the actions to take.

When you can make your case using brief, precise statements, then you will be able to transform your passion into profit.

Set aside your old business plan brick and answer each of the following questions in a couple of sentences:

1. What is the key, compelling result you create for your client?

People don’t buy your product or service, they invest in the results that your product or service provides for them. Describe your business in terms of the impact you make on your customer, how their life is changed for the better. Aim for the impact with the greatest value. Keep it simple, go for the WOW. In reading your statement, the response should be “this is something I gladly would spend my own energy, time and money for!”

Bonus points if you can state your compelling result in ONE sentence, 10 words or less.

2. How do you generate profit?

A successful business must have, at its core, a profit engine, where you input your products and services and the client inputs their investment of time, money and attention, and both of you benefit. What is your “value proposition”? A strong value proposition is a tight, focused mechanism that involves an offer, a customer, a consideration (money, time, effort commitment), to create the compelling result. How is this effect created? How do customers invest in it? Where do you generate your income, and your profit?

What is the reason why customers care that you exist? What is your long-term value proposition that will keep customers coming back again and again? Or that will create a permanent, powerful and positive change in the client’s situation?

Is your value proposition scalable (i.e. can you quickly grow the number of customers without adding appreciably to costs)? Are there multiple points where customers can interface with you?

Note that your value proposition must focus on something other than reducing a customer’s costs or saving money, because this is only a temporary advantage.

The simpler your value proposition, the simpler your profit engine, the sooner you can generate revenue, and the more successful you will be.

3. What can get in your way?

You can bet that at least five other people in the world are working on the same idea as you. How will you anticipate the obstacles that can slow you down:

– who has a business who can make the need for your product or service evaporate?

– where can you be blocked or sideswiped (technology, legislation, economy, environment)

– by what alternative ways can customers can achieve similar results?

In a couple of sentences each, identify the primary traps and how you can overcome them. Be brief and to the point.

4. What is your secret sauce?

What makes you THE go-to person for what you have to offer? What are the most compelling features that make you stand out from everyone else? How are your advantages something that make it difficult or impossible for someone to copy? Think long and hard about your answer to this question, because the more special your “secret sauce”, the stronger your business will be.

5. Who is involved with you to make this happen?

Your partnering strategy can make or break your execution. Partners can give you the weight and leverage you need to make a big impact fast. What kind of partners and team do you need to make this happen? How quickly can you spool up your idea? How much are you going to do in house, and how much outsourcing? Who is in charge of what?

6. What is your next step to build your business, and what do you need to make it happen?

Be very specific about the next step you are taking, and what resources you need to make it happen. Have specific 90-day, 6-month, 12-month and 36-month goals.

Remember: keep each response short and powerful. Cut out the fluff and get to the good stuff. Your answers to these six questions should fit on the front and back of one standard letter-sized sheet at 10 to 12 point font. Bonus points if you only need one side.

Bank Won’t Back Your Business Because You Don’t Have a Business Plan

One of the key things I want to get everyone who reads this article to do is rethink (or think about in the first place) what a good business plan is and what is involved in putting one into writing. The bad news is – it will take time and effort – you’ll have to engage the strategic thinking part of your brain. The good news is – it’s not as hard as you think and there are numerous resources available to you to if you feel as though you’re not up to the task of putting it all together yourself. You never know, you might even find a friendly, helpful business banker that would be willing to point you in the right direction.

Essentially, there are three key elements to a good business plan. Remember, I am speaking from the perspective of the guy that is going to be putting your application together and submitting it to the bank’s credit people. There are literally hundreds of books, articles, websites, blogs, etc. out there that will tell you what “has to be” included in a business plan. At last check, a Google search of the term “business plan” returned about 195 million results. The fact of the matter is, whatever the format, whatever the content, you need to have a business plan – full stop. It can always be updated, amended to suit the audience (banker, investor, customer – whatever) and should be constantly reviewed to make sure it is a document that you can use in the day to day management of your business. That being said, let’s look at the three elements of a good business plan.

A Good Business Plan Has a “School of Thought”

Some people call this “vision” or a “mission statement”. I call it a School of Thought because, to me, you need to have a more expansive idea of why your business exists than just a catchy one-liner or slogan, which is what so many vision/mission statements have become. It’s good to be able to boil your School of Thought down into a single idea or even a sentence, but you have to have some meat on the bone. Your School of Thought should consider what you do best, why you do it and how you’ll go about executing it. It’s your philosophy, your guiding principles, your world view. Having this sort of thing written down will allow you to refer back to your core values when making important business decisions, basing them on the things you find most important rather than on emotional responses to an ever-changing environment. And from a banker’s point of view, it will help with understanding your company’s history or background and what makes your business different from your competition (and every other business out there looking for money).

A Good Business Plan Has a Strategy

Strategy is a word that has been turned into a “buzzword” and has almost become an industry unto itself. Looking up “Business strategy planning” will return you over 43 million results on Google. But like many aspects of running a business, strategy doesn’t need to be overcomplicated. Having a strategy simply means that you have thought about how you are going to turn your brilliant business idea into something that will generate revenue. Strategy is about how you’re going to do business and about setting goals that are well defined and measurable. Strategy, if it is going to be useful, is about execution. The best business idea in the world is useless if you are not able to define how you’re going to turn it into an enterprise that will make money. And the best strategy in the world isn’t worth one dollar if you aren’t able to effectively execute it. The precise elements of a business strategy will vary depending on what your business is. But a good strategy should always have these characteristics:

o It’s Robust. That means it’s sufficiently detailed to allow someone else to be able to execute even it if you’re not there to explain it.

o It’s Relevant. That means that it’s been reviewed in the last 12 months (max) and takes into consideration current conditions in the business environment.

o It’s Dynamic. That means it isn’t stagnant. It should be able to be adapted to changing conditions on an ongoing basis.

o It’s Consistent with your School of Thought. That means it is reflective of the core values of your business. A strategy that is inconsistent with your School of Thought has little chance of being executed successfully.

o It’s Innovative. That means you don’t make your strategy a carbon copy of someone else’s. Too many business owners make the mistake of copying some other business when it comes to strategy. What works in one organisation may not work in yours. Be creative.

A Good Business Plan Has a Good Handle on the Numbers

Everyone should have seen this one coming. The all important numbers. They can’t be ignored. You will have to show the bank that the numbers work out on paper even when you take into consideration the impacts of the real world. If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ll need to show them your historical figures – usually the last 3 financial years at a minimum. And regardless of whether you’ve been in business before or not, you will most likely need to provide three-way financial projections. If your reaction to that last sentence was “three-way WHAT?” – don’t panic. Three-way financial projections are simply a forecast of what your 1) profit and loss, 2) balance sheet and 3) statement of cash flows will look like for the upcoming financial year. Three-way can also refer to the fact that this forecast information takes into consideration 1) a best case scenario, 2) a worst case scenario and 3) a most likely scenario. For most business owners, having these forecast numbers put together will require the assistance of a good accountant. Make sure you get an accountant that is not only confident in his ability to put these numbers together for you, but one that is also willing to help you get some personal insight into what it all means. (A good question to ask that will sort the good accountants from the average ones is: “What are the key drivers of my business and what can I do to have a positive impact on my business performance?”) This forecast should become the monthly budget that your business works to over the upcoming financial year. If you don’t understand the forecasts, they won’t be very useful to you as a management tool. And remember, you’ll be the one trying to explain it all to your business banking manager. You must know what you’re talking about!

Now I know that the mere mention of the words “business plan” is enough to make most business owners cringe. They instantly conjure up images in their minds of endless pages of tedious, mind-numbing details that will take way too much effort to put together. In fact, most of the people I’ve spoken to that don’t have a business plan for their business have told me that they’re just “too busy” to put the time and effort required into writing a business plan. On the other hand, those whom I’ve spoken to that DO have a business plan mostly fall into the category of those that were required to write a business plan so they could apply for a loan from a bank. Of those minority that actually have a business plan in place, most of them would admit to not having touched it (or in some instances even seen it) since submitting it to the bank with their application. One of my goals is to get everyone to think again about what a good business plan is and what is involved in putting one into writing. It is not nearly as arduous as everyone imagines, and it is a critically important exercise for every business owner. As a first step, consider the fact that not having a business plan is an almost guaranteed way to ensure that the bank won’t want to back your business. The old cliche is true; failure to plan really is an indicator that your business is planning to fail.

If you can get a business plan together that has at least the three elements detailed above, you will be able to go to your bank with greater confidence that your loan request will at least be taken seriously. It will give you instant credibility if you put it together with some care and a bit of effort. And if you actually utilise the plan regularly as a management tool, you will become more and more familiar with some of the key elements of your business that will lead you to make better business decisions.

3 Crucial Components to a Successful Hot Dog Cart Business Plan

Would you enjoy the opportunity to be your own boss in a low-stress, highly profitable business? Are you looking for a surefire plan to start up a real business that can help you quickly reach those goals?

Good, you are definitely in the right place.

Not that long ago I was searching for answers to the same questions, so you should carefully read every word on this page as it will make a huge impact on your life just like it did to mine.

You are going to take a peek into the most closely guarded secrets necessary to any successful hot dog business plan.

These components are so powerful they allowed me to personally build my very own profitable hot dog cart in 40 days, so if you are serious about getting into the hot dog business, don’t skip any part of this article.

Here are the essential pieces to a successful hot dog cart business plan:

1) Have an exit strategy in place: This is the single most important part of starting any business and at the same time is often over-looked.

An entrepreneur has to be a big picture thinker that sees the end result and puts together systems and processes that lead to that end goal. Knowing how and when you want to leave your business will drive everything that you do on a daily basis.

Do you want to sell your cart? Do you want a family member to take over? These and other questions need to be considered.

2) Develop an upsell process: The easiest and most lucrative way to make money in any business is by simply offering additional items to every customer with the initial sale. This is what is known as an upsell.

To give you an example from the world of food service, think McDonald’s. Their offer for a “super size” with every value meal is the upsell process at it’s finest.

Get creative with different combinations of drinks, snacks, and other items that you can bundle with your hot dogs. If you can come up with a catchy name for the combo, it will sell even better.

Also design a series of questions like “would you like to super size that” to offer the upsell.

3) Pick a commissary partner: when you get a license to sell hot dogs you will be required to clean your utensils in a commercial kitchen.

Renting a space is extremely expensive and hard to find. My most secret ninja trick is contacting your local church to be your commissary partner. They have all the proper commercial kitchen equipment
to satisfy your license requirements.

Most churches won’t even accept a payment to use their kitchen so offer to provide food for a youth group or other church event once a month in return for using their kitchen. This will score you huge points and will at most cost a couple hundred a month, which is nothing compared to renting a space.