Setting Up a Sound Business Plan

Business plans can be one of the most effective tools for the small business owner who is starting, growing and even managing a business. The business plan can have multiple uses and advantages. Provided is a list of important reasons to create a business plan:

  • The business plan is simply a must have for small businesses
  • Helps make important business decisions
  • Offer a reality check
  • Create new ideas
  • Creates a plan of action

Writing an effective business plan is time consuming and enough time and thought should be given to successfully fund, manage and even successfully exit a business. To be successful and taken seriously by investors, your business plan must be clear, concise and must be able to describe what, where, how and why customers will want to buy from you.

Let’s get started by laying out the diagram of a successful business plan.

Executive Summary:

The executive summary will be a summary of the key points of the business plan.

Business Description:

Provide an overview about your business idea, concept/s, products and or services, etc.

Value Proposition

This section outlines what makes your business idea/concept/service novel (better than everyone else’s). This is not about price since you may have difficulty defending this to potential investors.

Industry Analysis

This section will describe what the industry looks like (an overview), trends, what do customers purchase, eat, look like, demographics, etc. The more details you provide the better.

Competition

Who are your competitors? What market share do they have? Even if there is no competition, provide competition that is close to your business.

Marketing Strategies

How will your products and or services go into the market place? You have to think about non-conventional marketing (Note: this is critical) methods that are cheaper than traditional marketing methods (E.g. T.V, radio, print) and have higher impact.

Barriers of Entry

What will stop you from entering the desired market? How will you overcome the barriers of entry? How will you set up your own barriers of entry for other potential entrants into the marketplace?

Distribution Channel

How will your products and or services be entered into the market?

Team Summary

This section often many times is the most important part of the business plan as potential investors want to see who else believes in your idea. Also, potential investors want to see the experience your team possesses in various areas of your business (E.g. technical, business, commercialization, etc.)

SWOT Analysis

SWOT = Strengths / Weaknesses / Opportunities / Threats SWOT deals with the conditions in which your products and or services operate. Strength and Weaknesses are internal (team, company, products/services) Opportunities and Threats are external (market place, trends)

Financial Analysis

All financial aspects of your products and or services.(cash flows, income statements, balance sheet, start up income required). Note: spend plenty of time here. You must be able to justify any assumptions

Critical Success Factors

What needs to be achieved that will enhance your chances of success? Also, insert the possibilities of the chances for success happening.

Exit strategies

Describe how you and you investor, if any, will exit out of the project if you want to and make an excellent return or move on to your new “BIG” idea.

Future Developments

This section describes any future plans for your products and or services.

Appendix

Add any additional information here (Quotes, contracts, statistics, etc.)

There are many different idea and practices in writing a business plan. It does seem like a daunting task but it does not have to be. There are many online resources at your disposal including the U.S. Small Business Administration that will help you to get started or you can use business plan software that will guide you step by step in your endeavor. It will also be good idea to have an accountant help with the financials. It can cost you an up front cost but the benefits outweigh the up front cost accrued. Armed with this information, you are now ready to get started writing your new business plan. Good luck and be prosperous in your new endeavors.

Virtual Phone Numbers And The Benefits For Small Business

When somebody starts a business he or she can face many challenges along the way. The ups and downs may at times be so overwhelming that you feel weighed down. There are always potential challenges and you need to be savvy enough to get through them successfully. You need to look at ways that can help you and your business move forward and one of the more successful ways is Virtual Phone Numbers. Once explored, you can’t ignore the benefits.

Personally, I do not think there is anything as effective as communication when it comes to business. If the communication channel is not properly utilised then failure looms. This is an area in which a company or business has to invest in properly for it to generate productive growth. In every company or business there are and need to be, authorities. They are put in at systematic levels and these authorities have ways of communicating. They provide instructions at different levels. These instructions are to be followed keenly by the subjects. Some instructions are urgent and have to be acted upon immediately. If the communication channel is slow then there will be a problem. So any business needs to ensure that communication lines are up to standard at all times.

Another feature that makes a business grow is open, consistent communication with consumers. When they feel you understand their needs, they will communicate back to you. Most consumers want clarification about certain issues and the need to have an easy way of reaching you without necessarily having to come in person. This can only happen if you have a clear, open line of communication.

When you have a Virtual Phone Number, customers can call you at a cost effective rate. It doesn’t matter where your geographical location may be, your customers will be able to call you at their local rate. This gives them the feeling that you accessible and on call which can retain many customers. In reality you may be in a different state and time zone.

This technology is very good for small businesses. A newly born business will always want to grow, hopefully with rapid development. The fastest way to develop it is by utilising different communication channels. While it can help to gain more customers or clients, you will also be able to determine what areas of the business are more profitable.

However, it can be expensive setting everything up at once. This is especially true with a very young business and you may end up spending a lot of money in order to achieve this. On the other hand, if you want to create one line of communication up at a time then it can take you forever and cause the business to grow at a very slow rate. These two equations have to be properly balanced.

The easiest and fastest alternative is the Virtual Phone service. This allows you to operate your business in numerous locations without having to be there physically. Your consumers, while not knowing which area their calls are being received, will enjoy the benefits of calling you at their local rate. They will assume that you are in the same area as them and this is a factor that can also bring more clients into your business. It is a tool that has helped to develop many new businesses.

The way to do this is by using the right area code. By using the code as a prefix, it looks like a traditional number and callers assume they are dialling a conventional telephone number. You will then be in a position to do business in your areas of choice without situating a branch. This saves you a lot of money in terms of setting up and travelling. It also greatly increases your customer base. As it is a beneficial way of allowing your company to stay in touch with customers, this can speed up the growth rate for your business.

It is also possible for your friends and family to call at a ‘friendly’ rate from wherever you are. The calls can go through a computer and you can attach the virtual number to a conventional or cell phone. It will be easy for you to communicate with many people while giving them a sense that you are in the same area. There is no geographical discrimination and distance is never a factor.

Obtaining this technology is costly however it certainly isn’t as expensive as setting up numerous branches in numerous locations. You will be required to pay an establishment fee and a small administration fee. There is also a monthly subscriptions fee. This is relatively small and depends on the rate at which you have used the service.

This technology is rapidly increasing in demand especially among small businesses so many companies are offering the service. Before deciding which one best meets your needs, read their terms and conditions thoroughly. Check all fees, terms and benefits they can offer your business by visiting their websites. You will be able to make a request online or alternatively, call them to get a complete break down of what they can offer you. This will save you time and money by having to go to their office.

If you are a small business just starting out, you’ll definitely want to consider using Virtual Phone Numbers. It could make a big difference to your valuable business.