How To Write Your Business Plan

A business plan is a document that summarises where you want to take your business idea from now and for the next 3 to 5 years, and most importantly, how you are going to achieve your goals – specifically.

The actual document is a story describing the essentials about your business. Really, this is putting all your ideas down on paper so that either you can review progress over time or a potential investor such as a bank can instantly understand how you are going to achieve your financial projections and to assess the risk of lending you any capital.

The length of your plan should be as long as it takes to describe the following :

- where are you now with your business

- where do you want to take it

- how are you going to get there

Simple questions that require detailed answers. Most plans that are submitted to a bank should only be around 20 pages because that should be enough to get the important aspects out. Additionally a bank or any other reader will probably concentrate on 2 elements. Your executive summary and your finances.

The summary is just that. It summaries everything from a description about your business, the products, your customers, your management team and your financial forecasts.

Most people when thinking about starting a business know they have to write a business plan because they have probably been told that by their bank manager. The main challenge they face is getting finance. How to approach banks and what they should ask. Once you have developed your plan you will have confidence in your business idea and how it’s going to achieve the objectives you have in your mind.

If you have ever watched “Dragons Den” you’ll get a rough idea of what it’s like asking for money. Although going to your bank manager is not going to be such an experience, certainly the question and answer section is similar.

When asking for money you’ll going to have to sell your business idea and yourself. It really is a sales exercise. In the Dragons Den programme there are so many simple questions asked by the potential investors that the business owners can’t answer.

Questions like – “how many sales will you make in year 3″ or “what is your profit margin” or “how many customers are there in your market” or ” why is your price set at $xx”

When you are developing your business and your plan you will write all of this information down and when you do you, yourself, will go through some form of decision making process to come to the conclusions. There should always be a reason as to why you write something down. The reason you will explain to your potential investors. (If you haven’t seen Dragon’s Den then look it up on the BBC or search for it and watch one of the programmes)

So it all comes down to one document. Your business plan. You need it. Your investors need it. You should spend time on it to ensure you know your business inside out and use it as a sales document in order to get investment from your bank when you need it.

Secrets of the Carpet Cleaning Business

Are you a diligent and organized person? If you are, then you should try starting your own carpet cleaning business. This type of business does not require a large start up capital and there are a lot of potential clients in just about every facet of life. Your friends and family will be glad that they know that you have a carpet cleaning business. To tell you the truth, I am one of those individuals who are fortunate enough to have a relative who runs his own carpet cleaning business. You see, there are a few household tasks that make some people very uneasy. For instance, I do not include moving furniture, washing carpets and putting items back in place on my top ten lists of favorite things to do.

When the time for spring cleaning comes, I always make it a point to get in contact with my cousin. I always try to set up an appointment well in advance because his carpet cleaning business has become very busy over the years. I am amused whenever I remember that he was so worried about starting is very own company. I guess many of us are scared of the idea of being self employed.

A few years ago, my cousin began with a simple purchase of some cleaning supplies and a very good machine. He was very worried about making the initial purchase at that time. He was concerned that he was wasting his money but he decided to give his carpet cleaning business a shot after thinking about how much he could make with a handful of clients. He invested some time in making attractive business cards after he was done with purchasing the equipment. I was the very first customer for his carpet cleaning business and I didn’t mind giving him feedback. I was glad that I didn’t have to worry about moving heavy furniture anymore. I could do laundry and wash dishes while he worked on my carpets and I really loved the results.

I decided to pass his cards along because he did such a great job with his first venture on his carpet cleaning business. I left some at the bank, at my child’s school and at just about every other function I attended. The next thing I know I’m getting a call from my cousin because he was having too many clients. A lot of people are now on a waiting list for his services. A few months ago, he bought a few more machines and he hired a small staff. The carpet cleaning business has grown so much in just a little time. There are times when being self employed can be great.

What are You Doing to Create a Thriving Business?

“That will never happen to me!” is a cliché many of us apply to a number of topics in our lives, yet many of us subconsciously take precautions to protect ourselves from unforeseen possibilities. We buy home insurance in case of theft or fire, we buy life insurance to protect our families in the event of our death and we buy car insurance in case we are in a car accident. Some of us even buy business insurance to protect our company. The problem is many of us overlook the biggest “insurance” we should be investing our time and money in from the beginning. The “insurance” provided by creating a thriving business. What does it mean to create a thriving business?

The first step to creating a thriving business is preparing an operational manual that will ensure that your business can survive any hurdle including business growth, owner absenteeism and even owner death. Most business owners never stop to consider what might happen if they were injured, sick or worse. By taking a precautionary role in your business and considering things such as: “What if it happened to me?”; “What if my spouse, child or parent was sick tomorrow – could I dedicate the time to their recovery?”

These are all things we think we won’t have to worry about, but what if? Step back for a minute and think about how your business would change if you needed to take the time to dedicate to a personal problem. Perhaps in the short term it wouldn’t change much, but what about if you needed to step back for an extended period of time? What would happen then?

The success of many of today’s small businesses hinges on the expertise and skills of the owner. What happens to the business though should the owner become ill or die? In many cases a family member steps in out of a feeling of obligation, but often they lack the skills necessary to allow the business to truly thrive. They don’t have the same dedication, determination or passion to see the business succeed as you did. In many cases, a promise to maintain a family business is made with the thought of “I won’t ever have to worry about that” in the back of the family member’s mind. After all, no one thinks it will ever happen to them.

By creating an operational manual that outlines every faucet of your business operations including pertinent company information and a full description of how daily tasks are carried out, your business could easily continue uninterrupted without fear things were not being handled in the same manner you, as business owner, would expect. Family members could easily hire someone to handle the business operations with your Operations Manual with the confidence of knowing things were being handled as you would handle them.

Step back for a minute and think about what it means for you to truly create a thriving business. Just like plants need essential tools to survive, so does your business. The ingredients may be different but providing them is no less important. Plants need water, sun and dirt in order to grow vigorously and healthily. Your business needs a successful team leader, a needed product or service and a plan in order to be successful and profitable. Most businesses only have two of those important ingredients and are missing the most important ingredient. If you leave instructions for watering your plants, shouldn’t you leave instructions for running your business?