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Starting a Home Business – How to Write a Business Plan That Guides Your Success!

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.

Although these areas are critical to writing a business plan, there is much more that will be added to your plan over time. Each time you reach a goal or discover a barrier to making the sale ~ you will return to your business plan and revise your goals, strategies and techniques.

Business success is in the plan and implementation but also in the ability to adjust and redefine your business goals to meet your customers need or desire while letting you design your home business your way!

How to Grow Your Business by Clearing the Way to Growth

Is your business growing as fast and effectively as it could, or is it stuck at the same level it has been at for years? Research (Larry Greiner, 1972) has discovered 5 specific stages of business growth. Most business never grow beyond the second level. At this level, the business is characterised by a small group of owners (if not a sole owner), supported by a small team of people at an operational level. This describes the 90 plus percent of businesses, which have 10 or fewer staff.

Why should it be this way? The Greiner growth model describes 5 levels of growth that are characterised by the type of organizational structure and leadership style at each stage. The model describes a very obvious and practical problem that is evident in all businesses that grow over time. Growth is never simply a smooth transition from small to large. It occurs in a series of jumps from one level to the next. Growth at each level is limited by the structure and leadership style. A business can grow at each level to a certain extent, but after a while, the activity created by growth makes the structure at that level unwieldy and inefficient, limiting the growth, until the next evolution of the business occurs to solve the inefficiencies at the previous level.

The issue is not that these growth crises occur, but that there is a clear solution to these crises which few businesses take the time to discover. I am sure there are some business owners who want to keep their business small for lifestyle reasons, but I am also sure that if most business owners could find a way to grow their business beyond the current level, they would.

Most businesses that are stuck at the level where the owner(s) work in the business full time (or more) and there are a handful of employees, don’t do what it takes to overcome the growth crises that are created at the limit of growth at that level. These crises are evident in the issues of control, where the business is dependent on the skills and input of the owners for most of the results and the owners can spend little time away from the business because performance will suffer in their absence. When work increases, the informality of communication and organisation become a liability resulting in errors, delays, poor quality and unsatisfactory service. Costs blow out and profits shrink rather than grow with increased sales volumes. Many owners conclude that it was easier and more profitable running a smaller business and revert to a scaled down operation. Unfortunately, this means the business and the owners never achieve their full potential and end up living a life far below the level that could have been accomplished.

Rather than scale down, the business could continue growing by scaling up. The solution to the growth crisis at this level is very clear and the path to growth is well established by the successful ones who have taken the leap to the next level. The answer is to re-organize the business with the owners delegating more responsibility to the operator level, appointing managers to take responsibility for certain functions, combined with developing systems to assist in maintaining control.

Many businesses increase the problems at this stage when they only increase delegation without increasing control. This is the key to smooth transition through this level. Control tools provide the information to management to ensure the business performs efficiently and profitably, with adequate cash flow. This development is often beyond the skills and experience of business owners who have come from a technical background and have never had training in finance and management areas. It is wise for owners at this stage to seek professional assistance in creating and establishing effective operating systems and control measures. As the business grows, the need for greater professionalism grows as well. Owners are wise to commit to a self education program so that they develop the knowledge and skills to run a business at higher levels.

At the higher levels of growth, the crises are more evident in the leadership areas. With growth, the need for increased management and organisation grows proportionately. Sometimes businesses need to be restructured along functional lines, or sometimes organisation is more determined by geographic elements. Whatever the case, the need for strong leadership and communication with management levels about performance issues, motivation of personnel and strategic elements of the business are of greater concern than the technical issues were at lower levels. Business owners need to develop their own leadership skills as well as develop or employ highly skilled managers.

If you are frustrated that your business has the potential to grow, but can’t find the way through the current hurdles you are facing, which create increased stress, over work and performance issues, perhaps it is time you looked at changing the structure of your business and becoming more professional about how you manage it. Unless you make the changes, your business will be forever held back. You will not be capable of further growth until you re-create your business to perform efficiently at the next level. You may be held back because your current situation makes you too busy working in the business that you don’t have time to work on it, to develop new systems and controls. It is time to bite the bullet. Unless you free yourself to work on reinventing your business to clear the way for growth, you will continue to bounce up against that invisible ceiling you keep hitting, without ever being able to break through.