Create a Winning Business Plan in 24 Hours Learn the steps required to create a short but highly effective business plan and provide you with the tools you need to effectively write out your plan. Thomas Burns, Consultant www.theSBSF.com [email_address]
Step #1 The Importance of a Business Plan. <ul><li>Validation of your idea’s or goals. Before you spend time, energy and money starting a business, you need to prove to yourself that “Yes” this is truly something I need, want or have to do. The only way to do that is to investigate all aspects of your business and learn how much work, time and money it will take to see the results you expect. You may learn the cost in time, energy and money is not worth starting this business. Or you may learn it’s not the right time, or that you’re starting the wrong type of business. </li></ul><ul><li>Roadmap for success. A well-written business plan provides you with all of the answers to potential future problems. As a roadmap, it points out how you are going to work through challenges and obstacles. A well-written business plan will help prevent you from making costly mistakes now and in the future. </li></ul><ul><li>To secure funding or investors. Most people who decide they need a business plan, do so only because a bank, investor or potential business partner is asking for it. Do not wait until this occurs before you move forward with a business plan. If you already have a business plan written, then updating an existing plan is far easier than creating a new one on a short time schedule. </li></ul>
Step #2 Marketing is the Center of Your Business Universe The marketing section is the largest due to the fact that it has the most sub-topics. The marketing section of a business plan has ten sub-topics. For our business plan, were only going to have four sub-topics. Those sub-topics are: <ul><ul><li>Target Market Segment Analysis : This tells you exactly who is your ideal customer or client, how many exist and where are they located. Better known as your Niche Market </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketing Plan: This is the specific marketing activities you are going to use to promote your product/service to the target market. This also includes a budget and expected return on investment. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Competitive Edge: This tells you exactly who are your top 5 direct competitors, and what, if any competitive advantage you have over the competition. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sales Strategy & Forecast: This spells out exactly how you intend to convert prospects into customers/clients. The forecast tells us how much revenue we expect to generate every month and what it will cost to generate those sales . </li></ul></ul>
#2a How to Determine Your Target Market <ul><li>The first thing you want to do is ask yourself two questions. The first question is, </li></ul><ul><li>“ Who do I really want to do business with and why”? The second question is, “Who is most likely to purchase my product/service and why”? I cannot stress the importance of these two questions. </li></ul><ul><li>Who you choose as your target market (niche) has direct consequences on the success or failure of your business. This is especially true for startup, micro-enterprises and home-based businesses. Limitations of time, money and resources means that if you waste what money and time you do have marketing to the wrong target market, then you are almost guaranteed to fail. </li></ul>
#2b How many are in your target market and where are they located. <ul><li>http://www.ca.gov/ Locate state agencies, their headquarters. </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.saccounty.net/default.htm Locate information on Sacramento County. </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.census.gov/ This site provides all statistics on the US population broken down by state, city or county. </li></ul><ul><li>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page Online encyclopedia that provides updated information on all manner of subjects </li></ul><ul><li>http://library.csus.edu/guides/rogenmoserd/general/sacramento.html site providing statistics on Sacramento and its surrounding cities. </li></ul><ul><li>http://sacramento.areaconnect.com/statistics.htm An excellent site offering a snapshot of statistics on Sacramento County. </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.blackwebportal.com/ A great site offering an extensive list of links to black organizations. </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.strictlybusinesssites.com/ A directory site listing all types of sites important to small business owners. </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.ceoexpress.com/default.asp Another site with links to valuable sites used by small business owners. </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.csac.counties.org/ The site has valuable statistics on all California counties. </li></ul>
#2c How to create a Marketing Plan & Budget <ul><li>Determine your niche market, its size and location. </li></ul><ul><li>Make an honest assessment of your financial situation and ask yourself just how much money you are willing to spend on marketing every month for at least 12 months. </li></ul><ul><li>Make an honest assessment of your time and existing responsibilities and again ask yourself just how much time can I commit to marketing my business. </li></ul><ul><li>Then examine the list of most effective marketing activities and decide which ones fit your budget and time frame. </li></ul><ul><li>Once you make your list, then you narrow down this list until you have no more than 3 marketing strategies. </li></ul>Regardless of the product/service your selling and where your business is located, the process for creating a plan and budget is the same.
#2e Competitive Edge & Sales Forecast <ul><li>Most of you already know exactly who your main competitors are, while others do not have a clue. Here are the steps involved with creating a competitive edge. </li></ul><ul><li>Use the phone book and online directories to create a list of competitors. </li></ul><ul><li>Visit their websites and study their advertising. </li></ul><ul><li>Call at least 5 direct competitors and pretend to be a potential customer. Ask as many questions as possible about their business and what benefits and features they offer customers. </li></ul><ul><li>Once you have a clear understanding of the competition, create a competitive analysis. </li></ul><ul><li>Only then will you be able to create an edge against the competition. </li></ul>
Step #3 Sales Forecast & Strategy Now we get to have some fun. Because now we get to figure out how we create sales and how much profit we are going to make. The first step is to describe your sales process. As an example, my sales process is described as follows: Using the marketing activities described, Small Business Sales Force will encourage prospects to setup a face to face meeting by offering a free 1 hour consultation. During the consultation, I am able to answer their questions so that they can determine for themselves the value and quality of our expertise. This also allows us the ability to offer our services and negotiate rates. From this activity, prospects will usually purchase a business plan, marketing plan or individual consulting sessions.
Step #4 Products & Services This section only needs to be one page at most. Its purpose is to describe your product/service, who buys it and why. If it’s a product that is used by everyone, then simply focus on your target market. If it’s a service that is only bought by companies, then explain the benefits and what type of companies will buy it.
Step #5 Management Summary This section is used to describe your own personal/professional experience and how you expect to operate the business. This section is also used to describe any employees, subcontractors and outside service professionals you will hire to help run your business.
Tips and Suggestions <ul><li>Follow the steps you learned and begin with creating your niche market. </li></ul><ul><li>Use the internet, phone books and newspapers to create a list of direct competitors and study their advertising. </li></ul><ul><li>Make all your phone calls to competitors, taking notes as often as possible. </li></ul><ul><li>Use the internet to research the different marketing strategies listed. Spend time talking with different companies that use those marketing strategies you want to implement. Also spend time talking with one or several service providers to learn rates, success stories and understand the risk involved. </li></ul><ul><li>Spend time going over your own finances and expenses . </li></ul>
Once you start writing, do not spend too much time on word selection and grammar. Put together a first draft soon as possible. The editing and revision of each section will always take place at another time. Remember, a business plan is a living document that will be used daily, weekly, monthly. As things change, the business plan will also change. However, taking the time to do the research, planning and writing out your thoughts, ideas and goals, is the first step in the process of building a successful business model and operation. Conclusion Thomas Burns, Consultant 916-912-3880 www.theSBSF.com [email_address]