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Writing A Business Plan, Four Tips For Success

All businesses need to have a formal business plan in place, whatever their size or stage of development, and one that has been prepared by the management and not their accountants. Fortunately there are many now many free business plan templates available on the web to help you in business planning.

Why Prepare A Business Plan?

There are four main reasons why you should prepare a business plan. These are not mutually exclusive, and as the business changes and grows the business plan should be regularly revisited and reviewed since these issues will apply equally well to an established business as to a start up.

- The first is to plan in the widest sense. In preparing a business plan you are preparing first and foremost a plan and the process is one of thinking through what you are going to do in the business, how you are going to do it, what are the separate projects that will have to be completed to reach the end goal and when by, what resources you will need to have in place and when, what the risks are and how these are to be managed, and so on.

- The second is that from setting out your plan of action you can then assess and understand the likely financial performance and requirements of the business. You can examine the key sensitivities involved in your forecasts and take a view on the financial risks, and potential rewards involved.

- This is critical as the third reason for preparing a business plan, which is often seen by some managers, mistakenly in my view, as the real point of the exercise, is to provide it to investors or lenders in support of a request to raise funding.

- The fourth reason is that that plan provides an objective benchmark and milestones against which the progress and success of the business can be checked.

So, irrespective of the original reason for preparing the business plan, you should always use the process as a chance to genuinely plan the business. Treating it simply as an paper exercise in producing a document that is never looked at again is such a waste of the time that should have gone into the project.

What Should A Business Plan Contain?

You can now find many examples of business plan templates on the web which will vary in the content and headers they use as there is no definitive list of contents. In general however, a business plan should cover the following items, which will provide a pack in a format that prospective lenders or investors will generally find acceptable.

- Company details including company number, registered office address and logo;

- Contents;

- Executive Summary – a brief summary of the plan covering all areas and being no longer than say 2 pages;

- History and Current Position;

- Products or Services;

- The Market;

- Operations;

- Management and Staff – including an organisation chart where appropriate;

- Financial Analysis – a summary of the financial projections;

- Investor or Funder Deal and Exit Plan – where the plan is being used to raise finance this is where you set out the proposed support you are seeking and what is in it for the funder; and

- SWOT Analysis – a summary of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the business.

The plan should also be backed up by appropriate appendices giving the financial information such as historical Statutory or Audited Accounts, up to date management accounts and three year financial forecasts, all of which should obviously tie in with the body of the plan itself. In addition there needs to be the non financial information required to support the plan which will normally include CV’s for each of the Directors and any other key personnel, examples of marketing material, details of the business’s professional advisors and any other supporting documentation that may be relevant such as significant new orders.

To What Extent Can Or Should You Vary The Format?

If you use a business plan template it is important to tailor the contents to your business’s particular circumstances as every business has its own characteristics, and each writer has their own style.

Whilst the headings given above are relevant for most businesses, the focus of attention will vary depending on the purpose of the plan and the intended recipients.

If the plan is being written for internal purposes then it may concentrate on tasks such as Marketing or Operations and be used to attribute tasks, set timescales, targets and rewards, and then used to help co-ordinate and monitor an agreed overall agenda.

If the business plan is being prepared to support a borrowing application then the financial and trading data, in particular the cash flow analysis, will be critical parts of the document. Lenders will be particularly interested in the assets available as security, any other existing borrowing, and will closely scrutinise the detailed financial forecasts.

If the plan is to be shown to potential investors then you will need to be careful that you comply with the requirements of the Financial Promotions Order as failing to do so can lead to criminal penalties. Like lenders, potential investors will review the financial forecasts and proposal within the business plan, but they will also be looking to establish a potential valuation of the business at the time of the proposed exit.

What Makes A Good Business Plan?

As hopefully will be clear from the comment above, this will depends partly on what it is to be used for, however any business plan should be:

- Concise – it should be short and to the point;

- Comprehensive – if a potential funder clearly understands the product, market, funding requirement, opportunity, the skill sets of key personnel and the financial projections, then they are more likely to consider lending or investing;

- Clear – it should be written in clear plain English, (and be properly spell checked and proof read), but the message or propositions should be clearly stated so that the target audience can understand what it is that you want from them, as well as the all important what’s in it for them;

- Owned – you must clearly be able to present it and answer questions on it, including on the financial projections and assumptions, from potential backers.

The last point is a critical one. All too often when potential financial backers speak to business owners about the numbers in a plan that has been presented, they receive the answer ‘Oh my accountant put the numbers together for me’, which immediately raises questions about how realistic the forecasts are.

After all, if you don’t understand what the projected financial performance of your business is, the how is a funder expected to believe that you can make it happen?

Business Ideas For Women: Earning Income From Home

Staying home to raise a family while earning income has generated a number of business ideas for women. How many business ideas for women have you come across that truly allow women to make money without leaving their homes? Most home-based business ideas for women seem to require that you carry an inventory, pay high priced seminar costs and spend your late nights and weekends away from home to sell the products. Heather Hines at http://www.getwebcash.com had worked in the financial industry for over 12 years, but due to the current economic climate was released from her position. With this circumstance, she saw an opportunity. Her desire to start a family and stay at home, led her to find out just what business ideas for women were really out there. In her search she really only discovered one system that promised a true stay at home business. She found a system that pays more than your basic minimum wage and had the opportunity to build real wealth while completely working from home with no �selling� or �recruiting� needed. The Infinity 800 system and the high profits it can generate was the solution Heather was looking for, and now she wants to share this with others looking for business ideas for women. When you discover the secrets to online business building and share the business ideas for women, you too can live your dream to stay home and raise your family while you get paydays almost in your sleep.

This is possible because the Infinity 800 system leverages the power of the 2×2 matrix and profits increase exponentially. You simply sign up 2 members who then sign up 2 members and you get a $540 payday. This system of �cycling� is great as business ideas for women. You can cycle in as little as one day and get a paycheck. Then, with the automated re-enrollment and follow features, you can cycle again and again over the next several days, weeks, and months. Heather Hines has recognized the power of the 2×2 matrix and is realizing her dream to stay at home and raise her family while helping others find business ideas for women.

The business ideas for women in the Infinity 800 system get even better as well. Other systems have high start up costs. Some can cost as much as $3,000 out of pocket. The Infinity 800 system on the other hand has a very low start up cost at only $260 and there is none of the dreaded inventory that takes up space in your house. The Infinity 800 system has many fantastic business ideas for women who want to get the maximum payout.

When you take action on the Infinity 800 opportunity and the business ideas for women, you will discover:

�One step methods to select “Hot” markets that generate huge paychecks.
�How to make money without your own product or website.
�How to set up your business on auto pilot for 30 days at a time while still cycling over and over again.
�How to get top search engine page rankings and easily drive traffic to your website.
�Build your opt-in list faster with no competition.
�How to use the power of leverage, build a team of people working for you and multiplying the resulting profits.

Start building your future with Heather Hines and Infinity 800 and utilize the business ideas for women to make your dreams come true.

A Business Plan Must Be Believable To Be Effective

Various Organization Business Plan Formats for Diverse Business Plan Functions – There are different Business Plan Formats for various circumstances. You should evermore start with a Comprehensive Business Plan to run your particular business venture or project. Once you have completed your Comprehensive Business Plan, you can take certain aspects of that Plan to form other Business Plans for various situations, like a Financing Business Plan for a Bank or Venture Capital Firm.
Executive Summary Section – The Executive Summary should be published last. Why? Due to the fact it organizes and summarizes the whole Company Plan. You cannot obtain this efficiently until finally all other parts of the Enterprise Strategy are completed. You could develop two kinds or renditions of the Executive Summary for your Organization Strategy. A quick version which is 2-3 pages and a lengthier model that is 5-7 pages long. The Executive Summary comprises the Company Statement, Visions and Mission, the Function of the Business Strategy and a quick summary of just about every area of your Enterprise Program, alongside with a Financial / Profitability Segment.

Company Overview Section – The Company section of a Organization Strategy speaks to all the pertinent particulars of your certain company. For illustration, how it is shaped; which your company does; how it is arranged; your Vision, Objective and Aim Statements: history of the company; where it is located; how you can be contacted and so forth. This part will come first in the Organization Plan as it serves as an intro to the essential particulars and background of your company.
Management and Operations Section – This segment builds on the Company Area explaining in information who could run the company; who founded the company; who the key workers are inside of the company; how the company can be run; which are the specific skills of those who should run the company, work in the company and be responsible for sales, marketing and strategic direction; the specific gaps in Management and talent, providing a plan to fill or overcome those present gaps; and so forth. You can have the largest organization concept but lack the individuals to perform the strategy. Therefore, the Management Part of the Organization Plan is the most crucial component of the plan and generally scrutinized as such by finance sources, potential clients and your Enterprise Plan audience.
Products and Services Section – Now that you have formulated the Company and Management areas, it is time to describe in detail your Company’s Product or Service (P/S). This part additionally comprises facts on your competitor’s P/S. One of the most important aspects of the P/S segment of the Business Plan clarifies why your P/S is unequaled: i.e. its competitive advantage or put another way, the utility of your P/S. On the reverse, the P/S section says wherever you possess flaws in your P/S line-up.
Marketing Analysis, Marketing Strategy and Marketing Plan Section – The Marketing Plan entirely develops how your P/S could be marketed; summarizes your Marketing Investigation (actual research included in the Appendix); entirely particulars of your specific Goal Market Segments; and explains your P/S Competitive Advantage. In sum, The Marketing Plan explains in excellent depth how your P/S could be positioned in the market and should be supported by detailed, believable industry research. The Marketing Strategy carves out your niche and advances effective Marketing Programs, along with a Strategic Marketing Plan and Program.
Strategic Plan and Sales Plan Section – The Strategic Plan puts the Marketing Strategy into motion. The Strategic Plan equals motion and implementation. It also details your Sales Forecast for each and every specific item or service. The Strategic Strategy normally requires the vast total volume of marketing data and study and places it into a evidently outlined Product Sales Plan. It is quite important a Strategic Program is plausible and achievable. It works out all the �kinks� and road blocks in your Marketing and Advertising Plan and illustrates how you can conquer your Competitive Gaps.
Financials Section – If you produce your Strategic Strategy efficiently, finishing the Financials could not be overly difficult. The principal purpose why business owners possess this kind of a tough time with the Financials Section of a Business Enterprise Plan is frequently due to a cursory job on their Strategic Planning (as well as various crucial areas). Financial Projections are not plausible chiefly because a suitable, nicely designed Strategic Program wasn’t accomplished. A quite critical element of the Financial Section is the Assumptions area. This details all the assumptions you have utilized in developing the financials.
Cash Flow Statement: Monthly basis for 12 months. Yearly and Quarterly basis for 3-5 years.
Income Statement: Monthly basis for 12 months. Yearly and Quarterly basis for 3-5 years.
Balance Sheet: Yearly and Quarterly basis for 3-5 years.
Appendix Section – The Appendix Section of a Business Plan contains all the bulky items: marketing research, construction plans, appraisals, valuations, company art work and graphics, company charters and share details and so forth. Since an Appendix is often large in volume, it is important to have a table of contents in the beginning of the section, detailing what is contained and where it appears in the Appendix section.

Finding The Best Business Ideas

It is said that the best business ideas are always the one which are yet to come. There are no fixed formulas for a good business idea. It may vary from business to business and person to person as well. There would always be a need for creating various new businesses as people earn more and more money everyday.. Finding the best business is not something which is rocket science that involves a lot of expertise or get amount of research and analysis. All it needs it is a basic understanding of the business you are doing or you intend to do. As it is always said that the best things in this world are always cheap, the best business ideas too are not something you have to spend a lot of money on.
By now you must be wondering, which are the best ways to find the best ideas in business. The following are some of the best ways to find the best business ideas:

1. The very first step is to identify the products or services on which a whole lot of people would be interested to spend money on consistently. For a successful business one must need a very strong and solid market place. More importantly the various wants of those people in the market base must be met. A good business idea should focus on these key factors. For example if you have products exclusively for children make sure the product matches the taste for the children and captures their eye as well as meeting the expectation or demands for their respective parents. A best business idea would ideally try to make the lives of their customer a lot easier than what it was prior to using this product.

2. Make up your mind if there is a need for technology or not. You must decide whether you would want to work on online business idea or if you just want to stick on to the traditional methods. There is a big belief among the business men in this day and age that they would become a big millionaire if they have an idea of online business, well this is much easier said than to be implemented. There are cases in which normal traditional mode of business might fetch much more income compared to online mode of business. In businesses in which your customers would walk past your store almost everyday there would not arise a need for online business. Also they might well not take a liking to your business ideas if you operate only through online. You should go online if and when it is necessary, and not for the sake of going online.

3. Before investing huge amount of money on any type of business due your home work. Home work would be to try to research as much as possible to find if your business ideas will work out practically. You can also go online and see if your products or services have a strong demand among people. Find out if your neighborhood stores are interested in business ideas.

These are some of the ways you can arrive at the best business ideas and make you business successful among your competitors.

Tips On Assessing Business Ideas That You Have Generated For Your Online Home Business

Feasible business ideas are evaluated by analyzing the demand for the product or service, weighing the available resources and looking at the skills, talents and knowledge you have. The process of assessing your ideas involves reflecting on all the business ideas and income generating activities you have generated and zero down to three most promising ideas, looking critically at the advantages and disadvantages and basing on your experience and judgment.

To successfully assess the three business ideas that you have selected, you should use a table to tally your results for each business idea and categorize them into columns of skill and competences, available equipment, access to raw materials, financial resources and sufficient demand. Then use the following questions to guide you:

1. Which of these business ideas matches my strengths?

2. Which idea(s) can help me to achieve my personal goals?

3. Which resources do I need in order to realize the business idea?

4. Which gap am I feeling? Is it a need or a problem?

5. Are there people out there who will buy my product or pay for my service?

How to assess your business ideas basing on your skills, talents, knowledge and competencies

First of all, you have to assess the extent to which you possess the required skills (manual, personal, social, technical). If you do not have the required skills, you should think about other options like finding someone else with the skills to help you.

If you have to find someone else with the skills, then you should ask yourself further whether you will be able to afford to pay for this person contributing to your business. Remember that additional costs from employing someone might mean a reduction in your profit.

If you find out that the required skill can be performed by you without any problem, that idea should receive a high ranking. But if you discover that your skill level is low or nonexistent as, far as the skill required is concerned, then the idea should be rated low.

Secondly, you have to look at the future of the business idea by asking yourself which other secondary skills you have to acquire to fulfill your business goals. And how are you going to get them?

How to assess your business ideas in relation to the available resources

By resources, I mean mainly financial resources, human resources and other inputs like raw materials. You have to think about the start-up and working capital. The good thing online businesses do not require huge sums of money to start. You can start humbly and grow your business.

However, you should take note of the financial resources you need to invest in buying equipment (computer) and start-up expenses. You need to think about having cash that you will use to meet the day-to-day requirements of running your business. A positive rating only applies when you are able to have all the money required to start the business. And a very low rating implies that you cannot have anything to start the business.

Secondly, you have to focus on other related inputs like equipment and raw materials (e.g. software). When using certain equipment, you need to possess certain skills. Additionally, you need to look at the availability of the equipment, now and in future, and the challenges you may encounter when using it.

Raw materials are what you use to produce the product. A good business should have a steady inflow of raw materials and their availability is so important. If they are readily available, then give a high rating. But if there are problems or seasonal fluctuations in availability and price, then the rating is low.

Assessing your business ideas basing on the demand for the product or service

Here you should focus on your unique selling proposition, something special about the idea that can make it more attractive. The demand for a product or service means the extent to which customers want it. You have to take the level of competition in the marketplace. The demand of a product or service is also related to the ability of the targeted customers to buy. They may have the need for the product or service but when they have no money to pay for it and this means the actual demand is low.

Having gone through the whole process, you will then select one business idea that has received the highest number of scores and note down the points using the points below:

1. What’s the idea and what’s its status

2. What market does the business idea address? Are there any customer feedback or testimonials?

3. Why do you believe you have the advantage in the marketplace in relation to the market needs?

4. What’s the competition in the marketplace?

5. Who is the team that is going to make the business succeed?

6. What’s your long-term vision for your business and the projected returns on investment?

7. What’s the estimated total funding required executing the business plan?

8. What amount of financing are you seeking initially?

Finally, a proper write-up of the analysis of your business idea will be very important for you to further develop a business plan and to convey all the essential information in a more clear and concise manner. It enables you to communicate in a likeable, passionate and credible way to capture the attention of others, especially the people you want to support you as you start your business.