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Business Planning for Beginners

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There’s a reason most businesses go belly-up within the first five years: starting a business is hard. In fact, if the foundation isn’t solid, everything that you do can be negatively impacted. That’s why it’s so important to begin with a business plan. But what does a modern business plan really look like? Well, the following is a basic outline of things that should be included just to get you started.

1. Conduct market research. What are your competitors doing? What are their price points? What makes you different/better?

2. Connect with your target audience. Get comfortable with the idea of creating several versions of your business plan—one for investors, one for venture capitalists, one for business partnerships.

3. Be sure that you can provide proof to back up each claim you make. If the goal is to be a thought leader within the next year, you have to be able to state why you believe that is possible. What are you offering that sets you apart?  If you say your product will take the market by storm, you have to support this statement with facts. 

4. Under promise and Over Deliver. Be conservative in all financial estimates and projections. If you feel certain you’ll capture 40 percent of the market in the first year, you can say why you think so and hint at what those numbers may be. But make your financial projections more conservative—for example, a 10 percent market share is much more credible.

 5. Provide proof as to why your idea will work. Have others done something similar that was successful? Have you already created a prototype? Include all the variables that can have an impact on the result or outcome of your idea. Outline why some of the variables don’t apply to your situation or explain how you intend to overcome them or make them better.

6. Discuss bonuses for investors. Some investors will insist upon a hands-on role; some would prefer to be involved as little as possible.  All investors want to know when they can get their money back and the ROI. Create a brief description of options for investors, or at least mention that you’re ready to discuss options with any serious prospect.

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I am a certified Business Coach with ActionCOACH, the World’s #1 Business Coaching Franchise (Entrepreneur Magazine, Jan. 2004 & 2005). As your coach, I will be working with you in five key areas. The emphasis on each area depends on your needs, the type of business you have, and your goals. The key areas are: Sales; Marketing and Advertising; Team Building and Recruitment; Systems and Business Development; and, Customer Service. My goal is to help small business owners, such as yourself, spend less time working in your business and more time working on your business. In the end, you’ll be spending less total time working and will be making more money. I’d also like to help you put the FUN back in your business and your life. As a small business owner myself, I know what it is like to worry about the day-to-day survival of the business and making the amount of money needed to run my business and personal life. I understand what it’s like to put in long hours and wonder what happened to the dreams and vision I had for my life and future. I am here to help you change all of that. We will work together to redefine your dreams and vision, and then we will put into place the necessary systems, strategies, and tactics that will allow you to turn your business venture into a thriving, successful one.