The Nuts and Bolts of a Business Plan

Do you need investors? Looking for a loan? Do you want to apply for a grant? Or has the time just come to do a self-analysis of your business? Are you expanding your business? Looking for new markets? Seeking the next level in your business? These are all times that you need a business plan? What are the nuts and bolds of a business plan?

All business plans have more or less the same sections some even have the same content.
However, when they arrive at the investor’s or lender’s table some remain where they are and others pass to the “I’ll read them later” pile or worse still the trash can! So how do you make your business plan readable and memorable for all the best reasons.

Let’s look at what really is at the heart of a business plan. A business plan is a methodology that defines and integrates the activities that are necessary for a business idea to become a company and provides expectations that prove it will be profitable. In other words, it is the hook to get an investor and tell them that your idea is innovative and will be very profitable. Note those two important words: innovative and profitable. No investor will be interested in a company that is not going to be profitable enough to give them their investment back plus a very healthy profit. Now the what could be an interesting word – innovative. For a company to be successful it must have something that is different to all the other companies working in the same market. After all if your company is going to be the same as all the others, they are hardly going to move over and let you take their customers. No, your company needs to have something different that will attract these customers away from what they buy all the time. So innovative in some way, be it products, business model or service.

Lets add another word that your need to prove within your business plan – viable. Your investor or lender wants to see that you company is going to be viable. If you do a Google search about the “Internet Bubble” of circa 1995 you will see that thousands of investors invested and lent to new fangled internet companies that promised to make them millions of dollars in easy profits. Memories are long and now investors look to see that new companies are going to be viable for the for seeable future so that they continue to receive an income stream and have a good chance of getting their loan or investment back.

Your business plan should be a communication tool selling an original idea that serves to attract and convince people that you have the ability to implement the plan by establishing and managing the company.

At the beginning we highlighted other reasons for business planning. In addition to raising funds, your business plan is also the best tool for you to assess the viability of your business.

So that is the NUTS of a business plan, lets look at the BOLTS that hold it together:

Professional: Internally it should be well structured with an index, page numbers, headings and bulleted paragraphs that explain complex matter. Plenty of graphics break up the boredom of too many words. Externally it should be expertly bound and have a colorful and attractive cover page. It stands to reason that full company details and contact information should also be on the front cover.

Tempting. Written in a way that encourages the reader to assess the possibilities of entering the business. Take care of the writing style, be concise but not brief and certainly not so wordy that tiredness beckons. Keep to the point, zwoding extraneous information that does not support your business planning or business model. Avoid jargon and if you must use initials ensure that the first example is spelt out completely with the initials in brackets afterwards.

Dynamic. You have to be creative, but with some restraint. It is best if you tell a story but not one that is found in the fiction section of a library. If the business you propose does not invite big flourishes, save them. It can be counterproductive to distract the reader. Creativity is important as long as you highlight something about the business and is there to keep the attention of the reader. Creativity must only be used to paint a picture of how the business will operate in the future.

Accurate. Clarity is fundamental, but so is accuracy and truthfulness about the current state of your company and its future aims. A little bit of license is offered by the reader but they do expect you to be truthful about your figures, customer numbers and state of the production of your goods.

Ordered. Guide your reader through your business plan and put supporting documentation within the appendix of the report. Although the key information should be in the main sections of the report, in the appendices you can include secondary data, market study results, resumes of professionals and any letters from recommendation or favorable report.

The last big BOLT that will hold your business plan together is CARE. Your business plan is not just something you have to rush through in order to get your funding. It is the description of what your business looks like now and what you want it to look like in the future. Most business plans start at about 20 pages long for a small business setting out in the world to a maximum of 50 pages for a business seeking major funding. Whatever the size of your business plan, and please practice writing complex ideas succinctly, it should be written with care – after all a good business plan is a roadmap to company success!

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Digital Home Based Business

Whether you’re selling products from your own warehouse or factory, selling e-books (written by you or reselling), or offering a valuable service, there are some things that all home businesses must have for success.

Research-

If you don’t have a product or service to offer, you can always opt for a ready-made home business. A ready-made home business is one that is set up by another individual or company in which you are trained to sell their products to others. Before diving strait into a ready-made home business, research many opportunities to find out what types of products and services you’ll be able to offer to your clients.

Don’t just jump on every offer you see. Read what each business opportunity has to offer and compare value-added services with the investment required. Find out what’s involved to join, promote, and continue with the business.

Try to find a home business opportunity that you feel comfortable with and will enjoy doing for a long time. If you enjoy your business, you’re more likely to succeed and realize financial freedom.

Choose a Home Business That You Will Truly Love –

Not every home business type will be right for you. It is however very important that you choose a home business that you truly enjoy. If you enjoy sales and are very good at it, then choose a home business that allows you to interact with others by phone, e-mail, or face to face. The business might include direct sales to the end consumer, business-to-business sales, or networking to help others realize financial freedom. By choosing a home business that you enjoy, it will make staying focused and motivated a lot easier, and therefor, your chances of success is much greater.

If you would rather promote online and do your own thing without much interaction, then start a home business that allows you to do this. If you prefer to sign on with another company to promote their products or services, find out if they will close the sales for you. If they will do this, you can have freedom to promote and build the business doing what you love the most

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Work Diligently from Home-

Once you decide on the type of business, it’s time to work! Put your best foot forward when starting a home business. Don’t assume that working from home will be easy. To have a real business, you must really work at it. Create a business plan and set realistic goals to earn money and achieve financial freedom over a period of time. Then spend much time finding ways to promote your business for real results. Beware of promotional companies that sound too good to be true. There are some very dependable promotional companies, but there are also many scams. Research a company before paying into their programs. Look for companies that have been around a while and have a good reputation. Ask around in discussion forums (related to your type of business) for advice and resources on promotion.

Create a Steady Cash Flow-

Once you promote your home business a while and start getting sales, determine what you’ll need to do to create a steady cash system for the future. Find ways to maximize your efforts. Create more content for your website that will attract additional search engine traffic. Start an e-zine (electronic newsletter) to gain repeat visitors to your website. Add more products or services to get repeat business. These will help you continue in success for the long run. Your income will be steady and you’ll be able to make money from home on a full-time basis.

Keep Learning-

Learn all you can about your business and products. If you’re selling e-books that were written by others, read as many of them as you can so you’ll know the quality and details of the items you are selling. If offering a service, learn how to offer the best service possible. You can easily order home study courses to help you learn new trades or improve on your skills. The more you know about your business and products, the better you’ll be able to promote them and assist your customers when they have questions.

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