How to Write Your Business Plan - Part 3 of 3

How to Write Your Business Plan - Part 3 of 3

After working your way through the guidelines in How to Write Your Business Plan – Part 1 of 3 and How to Write Your Business Plan – Part 2 of 3, you should have a draft of the first sections of your written business plan. This post will help you finish your draft.

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Marketing and sales

This section of your plan will define your pricing plan and how you will present your product to potential customers.
  • Is your product less expensive, or is it a luxury brand?
  • What do you offer that your competitors don’t?
  • How will you set yourself apart from your competitors?
Pricing. Decide on your overall pricing strategy. Will you start by offering your product below your cost in order to build up a clientele? That’s fine if you can afford it, but recognize that below-cost selling is only temporary.

Your pricing needs to be in line with customer expectations. If your price is too high, you won’t gain customers. If it’s too low, people may not believe that your product is high quality. Research your competitors to see their prices and to decide what price is appropriate.

Social Media. You’ll want to include various types of advertising in this section of your plan. Don’t forget to include Facebook and other social media platforms as part of your marketing plan. Check out How to Make a Business Page on Facebook – Part 1 for instructions about setting up a Facebook Business Fan Page.

Milestones and Monitoring

Up to this point, your plan is written content that has hopefully helped you define how you will proceed. But now, it’s time to add a checklist of:
  • Goals or milestones that you’d like to reach
  • The dates you plan to reach them
  • The person responsible for each (if there are other people involved)
Determine and describe how you will monitor if or when your milestones are reached.

Expansion

You may want to include a section here to predict whether or not you will add team members and when you expect that might be possible. Describe the skills new team members should have.

Keep in mind that not all team members will work in management level. It can be tempting to offer management roles as a way to lure good employees, but that’s not practical.

How to Write Your Business Plan - Part 3 of 3

Financial Predictions

Don’t be intimidated by having to make some financial predictions. Just make a simple plan with monthly projections for the first 12 months. This is a way for you to determine whether you’re looking at your business logically.

Make sure to include the cost of your product and office expenses so that your financial projections are realistic.

To Sum Up

Your business plan will not be a static document. At this point, you have almost finished your draft. Go back over the draft to polish it up a bit and take out extraneous text. Remember, for this document to be easy to work with, it needs to be short and to the point.

And unless you’re going to present it to investors, you don’t need to worry about how well written it is. As your business develops, you’ll revise it according to new information and new goals to keep it current.

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Author: Kate Benzin

How to Write Your Business Plan - Part 2 of 3

How to Write Your Business Plan - Part 2 of 3

If you’re following along with our posts about writing your business plan, you should already have read:
And you’ve probably started a draft of your written plan. Just remember that most entrepreneurs are not business experts and do not have degrees in business from a university. Like you, they’re figuring things out as they go and using a little trial-and-error.

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Now, let’s get started on the next sections of your plan.

Your Products and Services

Every product or service solves a problem that a consumer has, whether it’s looking for a good price of the best car polish or finding lessons that will make French easy to learn. You summarized information about your product and the problem it solves in the Executive Summary, but now you’ll go into more detail and answer questions that a prospective consumer might have.

Pinpoint the problem that your product solves. Describe the consumer’s main point, and address the reasons why competing solutions aren’t as good as yours. Perhaps what the consumer is currently using is:
  • Too expensive
  • Not as effective
  • Not easily acquired
  • More difficult to use
To make sure that your product solves a real problem for people, go out and talk to possible customers. You might even describe your solution to them to see if they respond positively.

Describe your solution. Explain in detail how your product solves their problem. You could give examples of people who have used your product and highlight their positive responses. When your potential customer sees how others have benefited from your solution, they’ll be more likely to purchase from you.

Describe your competition. All businesses have competition. There’s no reason not to be upfront about that. Mention competitors and explain why your product solves their problem better.

A good technique is to draw a table that lists you and your competitors in the left column. Then add columns for the various features. Put check marks in the boxes to indicate whether a competitor has a particular feature or not. It goes without saying that your product should have more check marks than your competitors’ products.

How to Write Your Business Plan - Part 2 of 3

Target Market

Now that your product or service has been described in detail, it’s time to focus on your target market. Who is your customer?

Please don’t answer that your target market consists of everyone even if you’re selling something as common as blue jeans. You need to define your ideal customer. Your ideal customer might like jeans that are:
  • More comfortable than fashionable – or vice versa
  • Designed specifically for slim bodies
  • Designed to fit over cowboy boots
Take a look at How to Define Your Target Market for help in narrowing your target market to the specific customers that can benefit from your product.

To Sum Up

Once again, write these sections as a draft at this point – not as a finished document. Keep notes about ideas that come to mind as you’re going through the process. After you’ve written the complete draft, you can take time to go back and revise the document in line with realizations that you had while writing your draft.

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Author: Kate Benzin

How to Write Your Business Plan - Part 1 of 3

How to Write Your Business Plan - Part 1

After reading Why You Need a Business Plan, you probably realize that having a written plan is an important part of starting and running a successful small business. It helps you get organized and keeps you on track.

The name of your business should be at the top of the page with a tagline underneath that describes the essence of what you’re doing. For example, if you’re selling dog products, your tagline could be something like: Everything You Need for Your Doggie.

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Ready to get started? Read on to find out what you will include in the first sections of your document.

Executive Summary

Yes, you’re the executive in this phrase. But don’t let the word ‘executive’ scare you. This part of your business plan introduces you to your readers, whether you consider yourself an executive or not.

If you’re an entrepreneur who’s just getting started or who’s looking to grow a small business, your challenge is to demonstrate why potential customers should do business with you instead of with a competitor. It doesn’t matter what the prospective buyer will purchase from you:
  • A physical product
  • A digital product
  • A service
The point in this part of your business plan is for you and other permanent team members, if any, to become real people to your potential customers – to make a personal connection with them.

To that end, bios and photos of you and your staff should be part of your executive summary. Your readers will be more likely to turn into customers if they realize that they’re dealing with real flesh and blood people. In addition to bios and photos, include:
  • A street address – not a post office box
  • One or more testimonials, if possible
  • A blog post or newsletter that inspires trust
  • A phone number that people can use to ask questions
Every business solves a problem for the consumer. Toward the end of your Executive Summary, mention the problem or inconvenience that your product takes care of and why your product does a better job than the competitors. You don’t need to go into great detail – just an overview of why your product is better.

If you have a team, you could mention how their expertise has been or will be instrumental in marketing your product.

How to Write Your Business Plan - Part 1

Company Overview

This section is likely to be substantially shorter than the Executive Summary. Briefly describe your business and the typical consumer of your product or service. It is a factual description of your business and is not meant to help you bond with your customers.

Mission statement – Your mission statement should be short and to the point. Write one or two sentences that briefly describes the purpose of your business. Don’t ramble on and on.
Your mission statement is particularly useful when you hire new employees as it gives them context for the work they’ll do for you.

History of your business – Why did you start your company? Again, this should be short. If your business has received any awards or special recognition, this is the place to brag about it. Otherwise, this section can be very short.

To Sum Up

Writing these two sections is the beginning. Don’t worry about making it perfect. Make a first draft and let it sit. As you work on the rest of your plan, you will most likely recognize information that could have been included in the first or second section. You should expect to return to these two sections to make revisions.

If you’re thinking about making money from your hobby, check out How to Turn Your Hobby Into a Small Business.

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Author: Kate Benzin

Why You Need a Business Plan

Why You Need a Business Plan

Do you think a written business plan is just for enterprises much larger than yours? Or do you think that it’s only necessary when the time comes to convince investors they should invest in your business?

Actually, making a business plan accomplishes a lot even if your business is small and you don’t need investors. The type of details included in a business plan will vary as much as businesses themselves vary. If you’re starting a sizable enterprise or making a large upgrade on a small business and if you’re looking to entice investors or taking on substantial risk, then you’ll need a highly-detailed plan.

But if yours is a smaller business with few or no employees, you won’t need to include minute details. In fact, this is when entrepreneurs think that they don’t need a business plan at all, but continue reading to understand exactly why a business plan is still critical.

Read More: How to Turn Your Hobby Into a Small Business

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Clarify

When you discuss your business ideas with friends or family, your ideas may sound great, but seeing them in written form helps you understand how all the facets of your business will fit together. Just like a roadmap, a business plan lays everything out in visual format. Seeing your plan in black and white helps you clarify just what is needed and how to proceed.

You will be more likely to avoid big mistakes when you take the time to put everything into written form. In addition, you can go back to the friends or family who originally discussed their ideas with you. Give them a copy of your written plan and get their feedback.

Understand Your Market

Entrepreneurs are often passionate about the product they want to sell. That passion is vital, but don’t lose sight of reality. Not everyone will love it as much as you do. If you choose a product simply because you love it, you may be headed for disaster.

You need to be objective, rather than emotional, to research the market. Is there really a large enough group of people who really want to buy your product? If not, this is the time to re-group.

Organize and Hold Yourself Accountable

If your research reveals that your product is viable, you need to develop a plan of action to prevent yourself from veering all over the place. Put the following in writing to track your actions and confirm that what you’re doing is in line with your business goals:
  • Priorities
  • Realistic goals
  • The price for your product
  • How to attract customers
  • How to measure performance
No business plan, however, is written in stone, and you might decide to change some of those goals. That’s OK. Revise your guide/plan and continue with your long-term vision and strategy. But keep your business plan up to date.

Read More: How to Become a Successful Influencer

Why You Need a Business Plan

Monitor the Progress of Your Business

Your written plan gives benchmarks to check that your business is on track to meet the goals that you’ve set. You can determine when your business exceeds expectations and when it doesn’t. You can compare how your business is doing in relation to your competitors.

Don’t Skip Making a Business Plan

If you’re thinking about skipping the business plan, consider the implications of doing that. Consider whether you will have a better chance of success with a business plan. If your answer is yes, get started planning.

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Author: Kate Benzin

How To Make Money By Blogging [Guide]

How To Make Money By Blogging
  
“Can I make money through my blog? And if so, how do I do it?”
This is a question we've been asked a lot lately. As a result, we have decided to dedicate this blog post to giving you an informed answer.

The truth is: there are many ways of making money of your blog. If you want to know our favorite tips and tricks on this topic then continue reading and we'll teach you how you can turn your SimpleSite Blog into a money machine.

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First Step: Build an Audience

Before you can start making money from your blog you need to build an audience of a descent size.

The key to every successful blog is delivering quality content and promoting it (e.g. on social media). Your blog posts should be both original and creative. Remember to make sure your headlines are catchy and appetizing.

Be consistent and keep up with a fixed updating frequency of your choice. Subscribers are demanding and constantly crave new content. If you disappoint them, they may abandon you. In the worst case your blog will end up in the digital cemetery.

Read more: How To Start A Successful Blog [Tips And Tricks]

But creating good content isn’t enough on it’s own. You will want to constantly grow your blog and get more subscribers and visitors. This can be done by sharing your posts on social media, making sure you optimize all your blog posts for search engines and by trading links with other blogs or websites.

Read more: 5 Easy Ways To Attract More Visitors To Your Website

Promote Products or Brands

Many companies pay bloggers to promote their products or brand. This is called affiliate marketing, and you can join this trend. Here is how it works:

You blog about a product or a service. You provide your readers with a unique affiliate link to the product where they can buy the product. The affiliate link contains a tracking code that registers if any of your readers buy the product from the affiliate link.

If they do buy a product, you will receive a commission. If you have a lot of subscribers and manage to sell the products well, this can lead to quite a generous income. How great is that?

What is an affiliate program?

The affiliate program is a middleman between companies, who want to market their products, and bloggers, who want to promote or write about products. The affiliate program coordinates all the technical stuff and makes sure you earn your fair share of the revenue.

Here are some of the most renowned affiliate programs:

Sell Your Own Products

Another way of making money of your blog is by running your own online store. While this will require more time and energy, you are also sure to gain 100% of the commission.

Adding an online store to your blog is ideal for those who blog about beauty, sports, creative handcrafts, gadgets and the like.

So if you blog about handcrafts you may want to sell the materials you use, or even sell your final creations. If you work as an consultant, coach or guru, you can also use your blog to promote your services, and then let customers book your service through the online store.

It’s very easy to set up an online store. Read this blog post and learn how to set up your own online store in under 10 minutes.

Sell Your Own E-book

Another way of monetizing your blog is by writing your very own E-book(s). This is especially relevant for those who are experts within their field, and who have built up high credibility within the blogging world.

There are several websites that let you host your own E-book and charge money for it. Here are some of them:

Remember!

Be careful not to turn your blog into the next TV shop. Too much advertising can result in a drastic drop in subscribers. People simply don’t want to be spammed with ads all the time. Remember to keep it at a level you would find acceptable if you were the reader. Eventually, what it all comes down to in regards to running a good blog is the quality of the content.

Another rule of thumb is to only promote products or services you sincerely believe in and that you would like to be associated with your name. If you advertise a bad product, or a product that is totally irrelevant for your readers, your blogs image and your reputation will suffer and in the end this can have serious effects on your earnings.


Author: Camilla Groen