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How to Create a Business Plan

Starting your own business can be an exciting and rewarding experience. It can offer numerous advantages such as being your own boss, setting your own schedule and making a living doing something you enjoy. But, becoming a successful entrepreneur requires thorough planning, creativity, and hard work. After making the decision to start your own business, you’ll need to be realistic about the sort of goals and targets you want to achieve at first. Businesses need targets though, so be sure to set some.  Meeting targets does usually indicate business growth and success, so that’s why they are so important. As with any business though, it all starts with a solid plan…

Learn from those before you

Before you make the leap to start your own business, make sure you talk or work for the person that you want to be 5 years from now. Working in the industry before taking your leap of faith will most likely increase your success rate. On the surface some businesses seem simple and straight forward. No business ever is. You have to figure out how the successful companies in that industry currently make money, what are their margins, who are the customers, who are the competitors, and more importantly what are the missteps that you should avoid when building you own business.

You must be able to answer these questions

  1. Why am I starting a business?
  2. What kind of business do I want?
  3. Who is my ideal customer?
  4. What products or services will my business provide?
  5. Am I prepared to spend the time and money needed to get my business started?
  6. What differentiates my business idea and the products or services I will provide from others in the market?
  7. Where will my business be located?
  8. How many employees will I need?
  9. What types of suppliers do I need?
  10. How much money do I need to get started?
  11. Will I need to get a loan?
  12. How soon will it take before my products or services are available?
  13. How long do I have until I start making a profit?
  14. Who is my competition?
  15. How will I price my product compared to my competition?
  16. How will I set up the legal structure of my business?
  17. What taxes do I need to pay?
  18. What kind of insurance do I need?
  19. How will I manage my business?
  20. How will I advertise my business?

Do not spend a dime until you can clearly answer all of these questions otherwise you are leaving your fate to chance.

Write your business plan

Your business plan is your roadmap to success. Business plans typically forecast out 3 to 5 years. Any shorter than that and you will have no idea where you are going with the business. Any longer than that is irrelevant because you may need to make material adjustments to your plan within the first 3 years as obstacles present themselves and as the competitive landscape changes along the way. Here are the key elements that you will want include in your business plan:

Executive Summary: Your executive summary is a snapshot of your business plan as a whole and touches on your company profile and goals. Read these tips about what to include.

Company Description: Your company description provides information on what you do, what differentiates your business from others, and the markets your business serves.

Market Analysis: Before launching your business, it is essential for you to research your business industry, market and competitors.

Organization & Management: Every business is structured differently. Find out the best organization and management structure for your business.

Service or Product Line: What do you sell? How does it benefit your customers? What is the product lifecycle? Get tips on how to tell the story about your product or service.

Marketing & Sales: How do you plan to market your business? What is your sales strategy? Read more about how to include this information in your plan.

Funding Request: If you are seeking funding for your business, find out about the necessary information you should include in your plan.

Financial Projections: If you need funding, providing financial projections to back up your request is critical. Find out what information you need to include in your financial projections for your small business.

Your Competitive Advantage: What makes your business unique? Determining this could help you stand out from the crowd and give you advantages over your competitors.

Appendix: An appendix is optional, but a useful place to include information such as resumes, permits and leases. Find additional information you should include in your appendix.

Surround yourself with a great team of advisors.

Most business should have an accountant to ensure your books are correct and that all of the money your business is involved with is accounted for. You will collaborate with an attorney.  You will also need a financial advisor. they will provide you with advice on where you can spend more money, what do you need to keep back or whether you need to reduce the money your spending on marketing for example. These professionals will help you to get your business established and help you with the key decisions that need to be made when you are establishing a business for the first time.

  • How should I incorporate?
  • What business expenses can I deduct?
  • How much cash do I need to sustain my business on a monthly basis?

It is likely that many of these professionals will be working with a client in your industry so they can provide you with real world guidance on the pros and cons of the decisions that you have to make.

Rule #1: Make sure you trust and like who you are working with. Do not just select a firm because they have a big name or because your friend uses them. You are going to be busy building your business so you will rely heavily on your team of professional advisors to make sure from a legal, tax, and financial standpoint that you are maximizing your resources.

Michael Ruger

About Michael………

Hi, I’m Michael Ruger. I’m the managing partner of Greenbush Financial Group and the creator of the nationally recognized Money Smart Board blog . I created the blog because there are a lot of events in life that require important financial decisions. The goal is to help our readers avoid big financial missteps, discover financial solutions that they were not aware of, and to optimize their financial future.

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Investment advisory services offered through Greenbush Financial Group, LLC. Greenbush Financial Group, LLC is a Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through American Portfolio Financial Services, Inc (APFS). Member FINRA/SIPC. Greenbush Financial Group, LLC is not affiliated with APFS. APFS is not affiliated with any other named business entity. There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not ensure against market risk. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.