Writing a business plan isn't optional just because you consider this simply a home business. You are a small business owner. A written business plan is required to secure finances or investors in your new home business. Starting a home business with your own funds and ideas doesn't mean you don't need a business plan.
A written business plan is critical to every home business. The thought process and research involved in writing your business plan will reveal the blue print for your home business.
There are numerous paid and free business plan products that you can use to develop your own home business plan. Unless you are seeking investors in your small business, you can learn how to write a business plan that keeps your business working toward your goals. To have a well written small business plan, you will find your goals easier to reach and keep track of your progress both with building your customer base and sales.
Starting a home business without a writing a well thought out business plan is like building a house without a blue print to guide you every step of the way.
Your home business foundation built on these eight areas will give your business a strong identity and focused sense of direction to help you plan and manage your business effectively.
#1) Business Summary.
Write out a description of your business. What kind of company do you want to build? A well written description or summary of your business often propels you through each step of how to write a business plan. Writing the summary first means you will always have the basic premise of your home business idea at the top of everything you put in your business plan.
#2) Name Your Business.
You may think that your direct sales business already has a company name but that is not the name of YOUR business. Creating a distinct name for your business will help make your plan. Does your business name reflect what you offer? Is it easy to remember? Does it have strong branding potential? Should you reconsider your current business name if it not working with your product? Make sure the name of your business fits not only your product or services but your mission statement.
#3) Itemize Your Products or Services.
Write out descriptions of your products; how do they look, smell, taste, feel or how your services will help others reach their own goals in life. How will your offerings improve the lives of others? Sort through why others aren't already doing it and if they are offering exactly what you are going to offer then what prevents the competition from doing it better or more cheaply than you are.
#4) Mission Statement.
Your mission statement is a concise clear summary of the goals of your business. In your mission statement, you will define exactly what your business does, the products or services offered and what makes your business unique above the competition. Writing the bottom line of your business goals into your mission statement will guide the rest of your business plan.
#5) Business Assessment.
A major portion of your home business plan is a detailed assessment of four areas: your strengths, your weaknesses or limitations, business and marketing opportunities and threats or barriers to your potential success. At this stage of your business plan, you will be looking at your industry. Your work experience and talents that will add to your business would fall under your list of strengths. Your lack of knowledge or funds could be listed as your weaknesses. Take into account how broad your industry is when you are looking at your strengths and weaknesses. If you have little money for start up then you will need to be creative in your marketing and running your business. Will your weaknesses mean your opportunities for success are limited? Will your talent surpass your lack of funds?
Opportunities for business growth may be dependent on your networking contacts or website design. Every business owner should remain wary of all threats to business success. Planning for problems before they arise will make running a business easier and more successful in the long run. As you can see this aspect of business planning is critical to all of your vision, your mission statement, your goal setting and running your home business.
#6) Goal Setting.
Write your vision for your business. Be specific. You can revise this as your goals and mission changes. How do you envision your business a year from now then five years from now? Write out your goals and objectives. Break down each product or service into their own set of goals. Plan for expansion as your business evolves.
Goals are useless unless you can measure your progress towards them and plan to regularly assess which goals have been met or still need to be fulfilled. Make your goals specific and time sensitive. With each business goal, itemize what needs to be in place to reach each of your goals. Outline what steps you will take to reach the goals for your home business. Mark your calendar when its time to re-evaluate your goals and re-align your vision for your business to match the direction your business is going.
Celebrate when you reach your goals and regroup when you realize you missed the mark. It's important to decide what you consider to be a major loss and what you will accept as unsuccessful. Knowing what you will accept and absorb as a business loss before it happens will help prepare you for when it actually happens.
#7) Target Market.
Research your desired target market. Identify who you expect to buy your products or services. Write a profile of your average customer. You need to know your target before you are able to aim. Study your potential customer's behavior. Where do they shop? What do they read? Do they move in specific social circles? Who wants or needs your business? Who will benefit from your product? What type of people will find your business a necessity?
You cannot expect to fill a need or desire of a customer if you do not know what makes your offer unique and necessary. Look at those that offer similar products with success. Write out how you can rise above and differentiate yourself from the competition. At this stage of your business plan, describe how you can stand out from the crowd. Write down how and why your company is better than the competition. Study the competitions latest marketing strategies then outline here how you plan to counteract their business moves to give you the edge you need to stay unique and effective.
While studying your customers and competition, take the extra time to identify complementary products or services that may fit your current business plan that may give the edge you need to compete in the future.
#8) Sales and Marketing Strategies.
How will anyone know your business exists? What steps will you take to make your business known? How will your customers find you? What can you do to ensure that you attract the customers you seek? How will you track your efforts? How much money do you have to put these strategies in place?
List your strategies - press release, printed catalogs, business cards, open house, craft fairs, business, conventions, virtual expos, sales letters, etc.
Determine whether you will market exclusively online, locally to your warm market or a combination of both. If online marketing is part of your business plan then include an internet marketing plan to include your domain name and host, whether you will hire a professional website designer or do it yourself, your business logo and e-commerce set up.
#9) Business Start Up.
Determine what equipment and services you will need to run your business to include setting up your home office, equipment, supplies, product inventory, customer record keeping, and book keeping. Create a checklist of professionals you need to secure for legal and financial advice, advertising expertise, office assistance or tax expertise.
Starting a home business can be exciting and scary because it is Your dream that you are working towards with each work day. To write a business plan, means a great deal of commitment to the process. The process of writing a business plan will bring you closer to understanding yourself, your business goals, your company identity and reaching your potential customers.