So You Have Been Wondering How to Write a Business Plan for a Small Business

If you have ever wondered how to write a business plan for a small business, then you have come to the right place. The place to start is determining in your own mind, why you need a plan at all. OK, so you’ve got a great idea for a business. You have approached someone for support, emotionally or financially and you have been asked to write a plan. Or maybe you just want to get it clear in your mind, what you are going to do will work.

The first thing to do is outline your idea. What you are going to do, who you are going to do it for, how much you are going to get paid to do it, what your costs will be and how much you will make out of it. So write a quick overview of the idea.

Next, you need to state your skills for the job. What you have done before that relates to this business, how you got to this point and why you think you will be good at it. If you are going in with a partner or partners include their relevant backgrounds too.

Then write a description of where you are going to operate from. This is critical because business is about building momentum and maintaining it. Along the way you will have long term customers and short term customers. They will join you and leave you. You need a clear picture of how you are going to increase and maintain a customer base. If you are going to have a highly visible premises where you can tap into passing trade, you need to state how many people are passing, approximately, why the location is good, what sort of attention you can get and even maybe some of the offers you can make to lure customers through the door. A useful tool is if you can show some comparisons of competitors offers which seem to work. You will need to put your own “slant” on these offers as its not a good idea to copy your competitors exactly.

Now the hard part. Write a list of your expenses. Then your expected income. Do it month by month for the first 12 month period. You will know what your rent will be, likewise staff costs and raw materials. You will know how much you will want to take out of the business so include this. Factor in any sales tax or GST to give you a total sales figure you need to achieve. Now thinkabout sales patterns. December is a great month for most businesses and January a poor one. Add to this the fact you will be starting from zero. Month one may be slow and build up from there. Are you selling for cash and buying on credit or buying for cash and selling on credit. You will need to be sure you will have enough money (overdraft) ready to cover the “cashflow” of the business.

If you need machinery or a “fitout” of the premises, allow for this cost in your starting capital. If you plan to get to a certain level of profit and stay there forever then your initial cash plan will cover it. However, if you want to grow your business continually you will need more cash. Some idea of how that could be added would also help to reassure the parties of the businesses future. Maybe you can borrow against your house, maybe you are due for an inheritance, maybe a relative or friend has expressed interest in participating when the business gets to a certain level. Either way, some idea of how growth will be funded will be useful at this stage.

So I hope this has helped you in, how to write a business plan for a small business. Its a good idea to talk to your accountant and bank manager during this process, also anybody who has business experience and is positive. Beware of the naysayers, its easy to do nothing or advise others to do nothing. Without the visionaries of this world no progress would ever be made.

3 Business Plans Every Entrepreneuer Must Have

I am mentoring small businesses and I am amazed at the ideas I read from the entrepreneurs I have the pleasure of meeting.

Unfortunately, not many have well laid out business plans and most use the Internet for planning.

A big percentage of the documents they use from the Internet are impressive, but what they do not understand is that one cannot use a business plan tailored for another region of the world to fully execute his specific business.

Business concepts are similar universally, but execution and sustainability differ depending on one’s environment and market.

The business plans I have read display glorified projections and their market analysis clearly depicts great profit.

In short, one look at a business plan will tell you that some issues have yet to be thought out clearly. For example, competition, risk, challenges and so forth.

Before embarking on your venture, draft at least three business plans.

Individual

This plan is the truest of them all. I refer to it as the naked business plan. It covers almost everything including risk and possibility of failure. No business life lesson can be complete without a discussion on risks and risk management and no business can be started without embracing risk.

Risks are inherent in everything we do – business risk management is the key to ensuring risks are identified and a plan-B or C thought out. Some risks we can control while others we cannot.

This plan should cover who you are as an individual, what your honest strengths and weaknesses are and how you will handle stumbling blocks or closure.

It should address questions like; Can you persevere through tough times? Do you have a strong desire to be your own boss? Do the judgments you make in life regularly turn out well? Do you have an ability to conceptualise the whole of a business? Do you possess the high level of energy, sustainable over long hours, to make a business successful? Do you have specialised business experience?

Financial projections in the plan should cover, at the very least, five different modules. You should work on the plan yourself and get prepared for any outcome.

Investors

I like to call this the headlines business plan. You only have one shot at getting investors – make the best out of it.

This is a plan that shows what team you will be working with and how you plan to invest to make money for investors. Show a well laid out plan that includes short and long term financial gains.

The confidence, coupled with experience, shown in this document will determine whether you get the initial investment you seek.

Financial projections in this case can be three to five years. They are there to show sustained profit. You should not glorify the plan nor try to get a lot of money for the start-up.

You must mention what your competition is and how you plan to create your own niche market – having a business plan that does not have a thorough SWOT analysis could raise the red flag. You might end up not getting financial support.

Pick the right team, get professional advice, try to separate your product from the rest in order to achieve your own niche.

Do not spend too much money. Most people think that having a lot of money is fundamental in starting a business. That is a fallacy – you can make a lot out of very little.

Universal

This is the plan that you started out with – the ”sitting research” through which you came out with pros and cons of the venture. The plan that has been developed from different Internet searches to better understand what you will be dealing with.

This is the longest business plan. This plan has a lot of data, but you should sieve out information that is irrelevant for your business. Without this plan, it is difficulty to cover everything that needs to be covered in your proposed venture.

Starting a business is not for everyone, but great planning initiated through a solid business plan will always bring in the results.

Using Online Payment Services The Right Way

Online payment services have become hugely popular over the past few years for making payments for products or services purchased online. They are convenient to use, as you are not required to reveal your credit card number or other personal details to online merchants. The payment you make is transferred directly to the seller’s account. Nearly all online payments are now verified and secured by agencies whose accreditation is mandatory for a merchant to operate such services.

However, despite the safety measures adopted by such agencies, there is an element of risk involved in using online payment services. Taking a few precautionary measures can help you take the best advantage of such services.

Before choosing a payment provider, you must confirm that it has the necessary licenses from approved authorities to undertake such operations. Consumer review websites usually report unscrupulous activities of online payment services. You can watch out for reviews about such services before deciding on the right one. Portals like epionions.com or ConsumerSearch.com carry comments from consumers or do their own reviews about various services and service providers. If there is general acceptance of a particular payment service, you can assume that it will be safe for you too.

If you have queries about certain aspects of their working procedure or seek more details about the reliability of a particular service provider, you can compile a list of such questions and speak to its customer service department to get the queries addressed to your satisfaction. If you are dissatisfied with their answers or get an impression that they are skirting the issues with indirect and irrelevant responses, stay away from such companies.

One of the best ways to know whether an online payment service is authentic and trustworthy is to look for the Web privacy seal on its website. Most of the established and reliable payment providers will display a privacy seal issued by independent online agencies that deal with such privacy and security issues. TRUSTe is one of the biggest privacy seal programs worldwide. Better Business Bureau Online is another program that is highly regarded for its authenticity and reliability. These seals are authentic indicators that the service providers observe the mandatory guidelines on security and privacy as laid down by the federal authorities.

You must also find out the type of encryption technology that the payment service provider uses to protect your personal information from being used by unauthorized persons. The most commonly used encryption code is the military-grade encryption technology. It ensures that your data remains secure and your payment details are not leaked to outsiders.

Online businesses, big or small, need online payment services to attract customers who find using other payment modes cumbersome. With an online payment service, all transactions are done in real time. Using an online payment service gives all parties concerned a greater sense of confidence, as it makes the business operate more efficiently at all levels.

If you are planning to start an online business, it is inevitable that you will need an online payment service to make and receive payments. Using the above guidelines can help you make the right decision and navigate the pitfalls better.