A Business Plan is a map to your destination…
 
Bob is planning a trip across the country.
 
He’s excited and has been looking forward to this trip for some time. Bob jumps in his car and takes off.
 
As he’s driving, he realizes he doesn’t really know exactly where he is going to go.
 
Oh well, he thinks. The trip will be more fun and exciting that way. He’s sure he’ll know where he wants to be once he gets there.
 
As he’s blissfully driving, enjoying the scenery, he doesn’t pay attention to the freeway signs-until he finds himself stuck in the middle of a big congested city and has no idea which way to go.
 
The traffic is all snarled up, and Bob has no clue how to get out of the mess, or how to get out of the awful city. He’s stuck and his trip is suddenly no more fun. He can’t even remember why he started out in the first place.
 
What did he want to see? Where did he want to go? He has no clue. What do you think Bob ended up doing?
 
As silly as Bob’s story might sound, this is exactly what many would-be home business owners do.
 
They are excited about their business and so just take off, like Bob did, without a “map”. The map that all business owners need, even if you are just doing it part-time, is a well thought out business plan.
 
It doesn’t have to be fancy or formal, but you do need something with some thought behind it.
 
If you are considering the type of business where you intend to get outside financing or loans, you’ll need to do a thorough, detailed, professional business plan that you will be able to submit to your lenders.
 
There is lots of information on the internet about how to do one of those, or even hiring someone to put one together for you.
 
The kind of business plan we’re talking about now is for the home –business owner who doesn’t need an elaborate business plan to submit for financing or investors.
 
No matter what size your business, you need a plan. We’ve put together a few helpful tips to guide you through this process.
 
Why do you need a business plan? So you will know where you are going. So you can anticipate potential problems and come up with solutions.
 
So you can stay focused and directed in your daily actions. Having a plan means that you’re serious about your business-that it isn’t just a hobby.
 
After you’ve read this short article, you’ll feel much more prepared to begin realizing your goals and dreams.
 
1. Describe your business. This is an overall summary of what your business does, how it does it, and where you want to go with it in the future.
 
Describe your product or service too. This summary only needs to be a few paragraphs of your business plan.
 
2. Define your market. What is the group of people you are targeting? Baby Boomers? Brides? Kids who play video games?
 
3. Define your customer. Who is your specific client? Describe them in detail. What are their purchasing habits? What do they like?
 
What do they think? If you aren’t sure, go do some research to find out.
 
If you are selling supplements to baby boomers, find some and ask them what their main concerns are when selecting and purchasing their vitamins. Know your customer.
 
4. Why is there a need for your product or service? What is the problem that you are going to solve?
 
• Explain how your product or service is going to solve your customer’s problem.
 
• Explain how you are going to meet those needs.
 
• How is your business different from others out there? What is your Unique Selling Proposition? It’s very important to develop this.
 
This is what will set you apart from others out there. If you are selling supplements, how are you going to be different from the 1000’s of others out there?
 
What is unique and special about your product?
 
5. Marketing. What is your plan? What kind of marketing are you going to do?
 
Since this is about starting your online business, you’ll need to become familiar with the many ways there are to do internet marketing, then decide which ones will be appropriate for your business.
 
• What is your marketing budget? You’ll have to factor that into your decisions.
 
• You may decide to add different marketing options to your business, as you begin to make money. You may decide that once you reach the goal of generating “X” amount of dollars, then you will add another marketing method to your business.
 
• Be sure you understand internet marketing methods. Read our other articles on internet marketing if you need more direction or suggestions.
 
6. Hours. How many hours a week are you going to put into your business? Or per day?
 
7. Financial. How much do you need to start and run your business? What is going to be your monthly budget? How much income do you want to generate?
 
8. Home Business Essentials. What do you need to run your business? This is all the practical stuff you need to figure out before you get going.
  • Shipping plans
  • Billing and Accounting
  • Home office set-up
  • Inventory and storage
 
9. Set your goals for the next 1 – 5 years. Go through the above list and formulate your goals for each year.
 
You might want to expand your market by year 3. Or you might decide to add another business by year 2. Write out your plans for each year, remembering to figure in the budget increases for any planned growth.
 
Goals need to be specific. Don’t just say – “I want to be successful in one year.” Explain what that means. “My business will be generating $10,000 monthly in one year”, is more specific.
 
10. What are the steps you need to take to accomplish your 1-year goals? This is important because this will determine your daily activities. You can look at your goals and work backwards to create your list of steps.
 
For example, say you want to make $120K per year. How much is that monthly, weekly, daily, hourly? How many sales do you need to reach these goals? What are the activities needed to generate those sales every day?
 
The absolutely most important step in your Business Plan is this:
 
11. TAKE ACTION! No matter how great and beautiful your business plan is, it’s no good if it’s not implemented!
 
Now that you know what to do, go and do it…
 
As you read each article on this site, the picture will become clearer and clearer, and you’ll find yourself enjoying the process of doing your home business online.