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WAHM  > How to Start an Internet Business > Tips on Writing a Business Plan

Tips On Writing A Business Plan

Prior to writing your business plan, you should have the following in place:
Your business name (you should register it with your appropriate government authority).
Any licenses or permits. Check with your town or state to determine what you may need.
Business Bank Account. It is always a god idea to separate your business and personal checking accounts.
Once you have done these 3 things, you can begin to write up your business plan.

Why Should You Be Writing a Business Plan?

A good business plan maps out, in detail:
- What your goals are for your company.
- Research of your competition, industry and target market
- Estimate what your expenses will be.
- Your resources (financial, human and otherwise) available to reach your goals. 

You will need a business plan for 2 main readers: yourself and lenders.
If you wish to seek outside funding, you will need to present a comprehensive and detailed business plan that shows your product or service has the potential to make money.

Your plan will also allow you to determine which direction to take to make your goals a reality. It should enable you to foresee any potential roadblocks and how to overcome them.

Keep in mind that your business plan is not written in stone. You can (and probably will) alter it as your business grows and changes.
Writing Your Business Plan

The outline I have provided in this tutorial should give you a good start on writing your business plan. Please note that I have listed each section of a business plan in order of importance.

Cover Letter
Your cover letter should include the following information:
Company name
Address
Phone number
Owners name
Table of Contents
You should include a page that shows where readers can find information. Be sure to add page numbers to all of your pages.
Executive Summary

The executive summary (also called the business plan summary) is the most important part of your business plan. View this as you would a cover letter you would send with your resume if you were seeking a job. You want to make sure it is exciting enough to keep a potential readers’ attention while summarizing what you will later detail in the body of your business plan. This section should be no more than 2 pages in length.

Although this is the first part of your business plan, don’t write until your business plan is complete as it is summary of all the important points of your business plan.

In your summary, you should answer the following 4 questions:

What is your Business?
What product or service are you selling? Be specific here but also allow room for change. For example, if you are running a daycare, will it be day time or overnight, what ages will you care for, etc. You may need to alter your service later depending upon what the market demands.

Who are you potential customers and how will you research them?
Who will your product or service appeal to: other businesses, parents, teens, etc.?

Where will you locate information about your market? Chamber of commerce, internet, etc.?

How will promote your product or service?
Will you market online, offline or both? Will you offer incentives to people who refer you?

Where will obtain the financial resources to start your business?
Will you seek out a loan from a bank, receive assistance from family members or dip into your personal savings account?

The Company
What is the past, present and future of the company?
What is your mission statement?
What is your vision statement?
ObjectivesWhat are your objectives? Where can you see your business in 1 month? 1 Year? Will you seek out a loan, make any large purchases, hire employees? What milestones do you plan to reach and within what time frame? Be specific with your answers. You may also want to list your short term and long term objectives separately.

Your Target Market
Who is your target market and how will you find them?
Ask around to see if people would purchase your product or service and what would they pay.
Research the future of your business. Is there an increase your decrease in the need of your product or service?

Your Competitors
Research your competitors. What do they charge? Who are their customers?
Is there something unique you can offer to customers?
Ask their customers what they would like to see changed or added
Why will consumers choose you over your competition?

Your Product or Service
Describe in detail your product or service
What is the need for your product or service?
How much competition do you have?
Why will people use your product or service?
What equipment will you need?

What will you Charge
What are your competitors are charging.?
What costs and time are involved?
What percentage would you like to receive in profit?

Marketing
How will you market your product or service?
What sales tactics will you use?
Will you offer promotions or incentives?
Will you ask for referrals?
How will you get repeat customers?

Operations
Who will handle tasks such as bookkeeping, marketing, and customer service? Will you have employees? Will you outsource?
Where will your business be located?
Where will you obtain products you need?
What hours will your business be open?

Financial Summary
Starting balance sheet
Profit-and-loss statement
Cash flow statement
Any assumptions you have as to the future of your business (be honest).
Break-even analysis
Supporting Documents
Include any documents, articles, statistics, etc. you find that will support your research.
Letters of Reference: You may also attach letter of reference. These can be personal and from business associates. Include information about your business skills, character and credibility in the community.

This tutorial was written by Jacky Gamble. Jacky is a virtual assistant providing bookkeeping and administrative services to small and home-based businesses. She resides in Stowe, VT with her young daughter, Sierra. You can visit her website at JackyGamble.com.

 

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