Small Business Plan Blog

 

Articles from SmallBusinessPlans.com for you to continue learning about creating a great business plan for small businesses and more.

Welcome to the Small Business Plan Blog. Our templates, resources, and videos should provide ample information about building a great business plan template for your small business. This blog serves as a supplement to the rest of our site. We write about many aspects of small businesses and welcome post ideas. For content requests and other information we welcome you to email info@smallbusinessplans.com.

College Business Plan Class Project

We’re often contacted by students who are in the midst of a college business plan class project.  In fact, we’ve even been flattered to have professors contact us about using our materials for their own classes (which we have obliged).   Individuals from both groups often express the notion that it’s hard to write a business plan designed to get a business loan without divulging personal information about credit worthiness, co-signors or guarantors.  Stop right there!  The number one reason most entrepreneurs write a business plan is to clarify their own ideas. This makes the endeavor ideally suited for a college business plan class project.  After all, most of college is about clarifying one’s own ideas.  Moreover, writing the plan as a project provides additional opportunities.  You’ll find that people knowledgeable in the industry you choose are more willing to share their time and critical thinking—where they might otherwise be guarded. The ultimate reward for clarifying your own ideas is that you might just join the ranks of mega-successful companies that started out as class projects, or by individuals still in college.  They include Federal Express, Dell, Google and of course Facebook. Regardless of whether your business plan class project is something you actually intend to pursue, find a business idea that you have some passion for.  Ideally, you’ll choose an idea about which you already have some familiarity, knowledge or expertise.  It’s essential that you have the mindset of the customer of your business.  Being able to think like a customer is critical to knowing how to succeed in your selected business.  By contrast, few delis are started by... read more

How to Write a Business Plan

How to write a business plan!  You’ve decided to start a business. The excitement level is high. It’s something you’ve always wanted to do. All the experts say “you have to have a business plan!” Perhaps that’s why the first research most entrepreneurs undertake is how to write a small business plan. This article will help you gain an understanding of the process and help you to frame how you’ll go about creating your plan. Ten or fifteen years ago a business plan was a comprehensive research document with 50 – 100 pages or more. You could expect to find exhibits and schedules packed in the back of the document and an executive summary in the front. The executive summary typically comprised about 15 pages. Today, a small business plan is more like an executive summary, about 10 – 15 pages in length. It’s hard to say exactly when or why the transition occurred. Some say entrepreneurs didn’t have the skill set, desire or inclination to write research papers. Others say bankers and investor didn’t like to read them. Probably both are correct. Let’s answer that question about how to write a business plan right now! What is a Business Plan? Your business plan must contain four main sections, listed below. Guidelines on how to write each section of the business plan follow. Introduction of Your Business Sales and Market Potential The Management Team Financial Projections   How to Write a Business Plan: Introduction Probably no aspect of how to write a business plan is more important than the introduction. The introduction of your business plan is the ‘new’... read more

Write Your Small Business Plan

By Bill Darken   A small business plan is vital to the success of starting a small business, Faced with writing a small business plan; the panic sets in. Confusion clouds your mind. You wonder where to start. This is important. It is the outline to how your idea will become reality. Actually, it proves you are serious and you need it if you need finance. Writing the Feared Business Plan The screen is blank. Your mind is blank. Really, this is an important part of setting up your business. If you can not put it on paper, how do you make a living from it? Try thinking along these lines and start by mapping out your small business plan. The basic elements all small business plans have are: – Summary – a one-page overview of your business plan. When your business plan is complete, go through it and summarize it into one page. – Introduction – Briefly talk about your vision and goals for the business. Write yourself a vision, but avoid the old clichés. Remember to have a beginning, middle and an end. – Marketing Brief – Analyse the market your business fits into. Who is you target audience? Why target them? – Marketing Strategy – Talk about how you will attract clients in your demographic. What tools you are going to use to achieve this? Does the internet play a part in this? Do you need a website? Newspaper, television and radio advertising? – Plan of Operation – This is how you will operate and set-up the business; where it will operate from; business name; legal... read more

Importance of Small Business Plan

Importance of having a small business plan for starting and running a business By: Jovana Zivanovic   If you are currently in the process of starting a small business, the first important thing you should keep in mind is a small business plan. Each year, because of a variety of reasons a large number of individuals plan to start a business. Yet despite the desire and motivation to run their own business, many don’t get off the starting blocks. One of the reasons for the inability to get a business off the ground is the lack of a clear thought process – the task appears so daunting that the idea quickly fades away. One tried and tested method for developing ideas into action is to write a business plan. Business plan will serve as a stepping-stone of your business success. Whilst it may come in different formats you will find that all business plans have the same aim and that is to give a clear idea and direction as to exactly what your business is or will be. One of the key benefits to having a business plan is that you will know what you need to do to get your business up and running. For example, if you know what type of customers you will be targeting and how, you have a better chance of success. In a way, a business plan for a start up business (or one that is looking to expand) is essentially a to-do list. A business plan will force you to think about the steps you need to take to get your business up... read more

Small Business Loans: Tips On How To Get A Business Loan

By Lexe Charleston   With the current state of the economy it is more difficult to get a business loan. First tier lenders have nearly ceased all lending and second tier lenders are much more cautious about who they lend to. Still, as a small business owner or entrepreneur you know that there will be obstacles. Getting the money to start a small business is the first and perhaps one of the toughest obstacles that you will have to face. But it can be done. If you really want to enhance your chances of qualifying for a small business loan you must be well prepared when you go in for interviews with lending companies. This means that you must consider what it is that they are looking for, show them documentation proving (as well as possible) that your business will be profitable, and preparing yourself to answer their questions. Yes, it is much like a job interview–even down to the fact that you must dress to impress! What Lenders Examine Most To begin, let’s take a look at the things that small business lenders consider most when determining whether or not they will loan money to an individual. Business Plan Business Feasibility Credit History Experience Education   Questions To Anticipate Next, you must prepare yourself to answer questions. Lucky for you, there are a few very common questions that lenders ask, so you can begin preparing yourself in much the same way that you would prepare yourself for a job interview.   How much money do you need? What will you spend the money on? How long will you need the... read more

Conflicting Stories About Health of Venture Capital

On Sunday, The San Diego Union Tribune ran an article lamenting that venture capital firms “are feeling pretty anemic these days.”  The article discusses the ecosystem where small companies seek venture capital to grow their businesses.  Venture capital companies seek to have their portfolio companies go public or be acquired.  When that doesn’t happen, the VC’s can’t return money to their investors.   To complete the lock-up, those who fund the venture capital firms, stop investing.  Thus, small companies are having a difficult time getting venture capital funding.  Sad news for an economy so dependent on the success of small businesses. If it weren’t for the fact that the misery trickles down, many entrepreneurs would be without compassion or even amused at the idea that venture capital firms are having a hard time raising money.  The irony is inescapable.  However, since we are all living in the same ecosystem, we comment but dare not laugh.  There is however a silver lining. In a separate article, only 4 days later, CNN Money reports that “The IPO Market Roars Back.”   The article reports that “In the last six months, 20 venture capital-backed companies have had IPOs. That’s eight more than went public in all of 2009, according to the National Venture Capital Association.”  Twice that many are have IPO filings in the works. Even the smallest of entrepreneurs should be celebrating this news.  The success of the IPO markets will eventually bring new money to venture capital firms, which will make venture capital funding for your business a viable strategy.  The dollars that are starting to pour into IPO’s will... read more

Government Help for Small Business? Don’t hold your breath!

This week there was more news about what the federal government is going to do to help small business owners.   I don’t think they even understand the problem. First, by defining ‘small business’ as any business with fewer than 500 employees, they are missing the mark completely.  Over 99% of businesses in the US have fewer than 500 employees!   Meanwhile, about 20% of US workers are employed by firms with fewer than 20 employees.   Those are the kind of ‘small businesses’ our government should be trying to help. When most people hear about government guaranteed SBA loans for small business, they probably think that the business owner is the beneficiary of the government guarantee.   Wrong.  The guarantee is from the government to the bank that made the loan.  The small business guy gets nothing out of the deal.  As a small business owner, you can be guaranteed that they will come after you for every dime you borrow unless and until the loan is repaid.  There will be no help for you, the small business owner, from the federal government.... read more

The Six Startup Rules for Launching an Internet Business

This week I was honored to be featured as a guest blogger on Keller Hawthorne’s blog, FreshEVenture.com.  If you don’t know Keller’s work, you’re missing out!   Visit the site to read my article, The Six Startup Rules for Launching an Internet Business.  While you’re there browse around and see Keller’s numerous insightful postings.  If you’re serious about starting an online business, she’s one to watch!... read more

Sustainable Advantage – Every VC’s “Gotcha” Question

Today I had lunch with a friend who has been part of several startups and has done quite well. He even took one of them public. He’s at it again–in the process of raising money for another new business. We started talking about the usual questions angel investors and venture capitalists ask all founders. One of the favorites is “What is your sustainable advantage?” In other words, what makes you different today and how will you protect that difference so that nobody else can ever catch up? Clearly it’s a question every new business owner should be ready to answer. But it’s also a loaded question. Unless you’re starting a business based on a patent which has already been granted, whatever makes you different (better) today, is not likely to last long. The more successful you are, the more likely you are to be copied. Yes, you can do things to leverage your advantages. But your strategy for tomorrow can’t be to make today last as long as possible. When you’re starting a business, you need to know how you’ll fill a void in a way that others currently are not. Then, you need to be committed to continuously evolving to improve upon what you offer today, so that you can out-pace your competitors. Most advantages don’t last long. As an investor, I would be looking for business owners with the following traits: A good idea today articulated in a business plan A go-to market strategy that fills a niche Demonstrated knowledge of the market-space The right team to execute the plan Once these items are ‘checked’ the best... read more

Startup Business Plan

The Importance of Writing a Startup Business Plan A startup business plan’s importance cannot be overemphasized. If you want your business to be successful and profitable, you’ll need to have a clear understanding of your strengths, customers, and competition. These elements are fundamental to developing a winning business strategy. Writing a startup business plan will force you to address these issues early. A common misconception is that you only need a startup business plan if you need a loan or investors—this is not the case!  Writing a business plan will help you organize, strengthen, and refine your initial ideas and strategies.  If you choose to write a startup business plan, the biggest beneficiary will be you, the business owner. Most anyone who is a current business owner or entrepreneur will tell you, writing a business plan will be the best business decision you can make. The Importance of Writing a Startup Business Plan Cannot Be Overemphasized A business plan is a way to logically articulate your thoughts. Being able to do so is an essential prerequisite to starting a business.  Why would you start on a journey if you don’t know where you’re going AND how you’re going to get there? Most businesses fail due to lack of capital—which is really just a lack of planning. If you ask yourself these tough questions when you first start writing your startup business plan, it will likely pay off in the end: Am I going to need to try and get a loan or do I need the financial backing of an investor? How am I going to convince a bank... read more

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