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Business Planning Made Easy - 5 Steps

Mar 12, 2008
Writing a business plan can seem daunting. However, with a little bit of planning, it won't be for you.

Worth noting here is that I'm not a fan of big, fat business plans that sit on a book-shelf or in a filing cabinet.

My idea of a good business plan is one that is simple, easy to read, and accessible. Think of your business plan as your road map. You want it handy to look at so you stay on course.

Before you go investing a lot of time (and possibly money) on writing your business plan consider the following:

1. Where do you see your business going in the next one, two, or five years? The goals that you establish for your home business should reflect your values and be in alignment with the vision you have for your life.

A note about goals: Ideally goals are specific, measurable and realistic. Often we do not set realistic goals because we're ambitious. Yes, you want to "think big," but there is a lot of value in hitting the mark, in achieving a goal. It's very motivating. So, don't be hard on yourself by setting lofty goals. Eat that elephant one bit at a time.

2. Why are you writing a business plan? Typically a person creates a business plan for one of two reasons - to attract funding or as a guide to running the business.

Usually a home business owner writes a business plan for his/her business for the latter reason - as a guide to running the business. If you are seeking funding for your home business your business plan can serve both purposes, but you will tailor the business plan to more closely focus on the financial needs of the business. You will also make it clear how much money is needed, how it will be spent, and when you foresee paying a profit on the investment dollars.

If, however, the business plan is for you, in your business plan you will emphasize reaching specific goals at certain times.

3. Clearly define your target audience. For example, what are the demographics of your target audience, who is your competition, and what is your market? The Internet is a wonderful resource to use to conduct research. It's like one big encyclopedia.

4. Read other business plans - avoid reinventing the wheel. Look for business plans for businesses most similar to yours.

5. Determine which software program you will use to write your business plan. You can use a basic word-processing program or business plan software. Use what suits your needs and level of comfort.

I've listed the 5 steps you can take to break down writing your business plan into manageable pieces. Now, here's an assignment for you:

Decide right now on a time and place that you're going to sit down and spend about an hour going through the above steps. If you think about it, your business deserves that kind of care and attention.
About the Author
Kimberly Anne is a seasoned businessperson with over 20 years of marketing experience. With a BA and a MBA, she has helped thousands of people start home businesses and achieve success. For more help with writing your business plan visit Kimberly's site www.all-about-home-businesses.com.
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