Part 1: Three Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Start Your Own Business
Thinking of starting a small business? You’re on the right track. There’s a lot of thinking to be done before you start your own business.
Starting a small business is one of those huge, life-altering events. Think of it as a marriage; running a successful small business takes the same depth of commitment and desire. As in a marriage, you’re going to be living with your business 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Like any relationship, if you want your small business to be successful, you’re going to have to work at it. And it’s going to have its ups and downs and surprises.
But on the positive side, if you’re the right person with a solid plan, starting your own business can be the most satisfying, exhilarating experience of your life.
Examine Your Heart
The first step is to examine whether or not starting a small business is right for you --- not your neighbour, friend, coworker, or whoever else is trying to tell you that you should start your own business.
The main quality that you have to have to start your own business is a burning desire to do it.
Running a small business isn’t for the ambivalent or indifferent. You have to really, really want to be your own boss, transform your dream into reality, or market your product or service.
Look inside yourself and ask these three basic questions before you start your own business:
Do you really want to operate independently and be the person making all the decisions and shouldering all the responsibility?
Are you willing to work hard and make the sacrifices starting a small business entails?
Do you have the self-confidence and self-discipline that will enable you to persevere and build your new enterprise into a success?
If you’ve answered “no” to any of these, you’re probably not ready to start your own business. Overnight success stories are just that… stories. The reality is that success is won through hard work over time. And you want to start and run a successful small business, don’t you?
If you answered all three of these basic questions positively, then you're ready to think seriously about starting a small business. But not everyone who wants to start a small business is cut out to actually run a business. Are you enough of an entrepreneur? Continue on to the next page to see whether or not you have the right entrepreneurial qualities.
A business plan is a document that summarizes the operational and financial objectives of a business and contains the detailed plans and budgets showing how the objectives are to be realized.
Because the business plan contains detailed financial projections, forecasts about your business's performance, and a marketing plan, it's an incredibly useful tool for business planning.
For anyone starting a business, it's a vital first step.
My Writing A Business Plan series provides detailed instructions for working through each section of the business plan. Business Plan Outline, is the starting page; it includes a brief explanation of the contents of each section of the business plan.
How does the business plan differ from the investment proposal? Not much.
The business plan and the investment proposal have the same contents. You can think of an investment proposal as a business plan with a different audience. The business plan is considered an internal document, unlike the investment proposal, which is designed to be presented to external agencies. For more about business plans crafted for investors, see Prepare An Investor Ready Business Plan.
Business Plan Outline
From Susan Ward,
Your Guide to Small Business: Canada.
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The Writing a Business Plan Series
Thinking of writing a business plan? Here is a business plan outline, listing the sections of the business plan in the order in which they will appear in your completed business plan with a brief explanation of each section to help you get organized and guide you through the writing a business plan process.
The Executive Summary
While appearing first, this section of the business plan is written last. It summarizes the key elements of the entire business plan.
An overview of the industry sector that your business will be a part of, including industry trends, major players in the industry, and estimated industry sales. This section of the business plan will also include a summary of your business's place within the industry.
An examination of the primary target market for your product or service, including geographic location, demographics, your target market's needs and how these needs are being met currently.
An investigation of your direct and indirect competitors, with an assessment of their competitive advantage and an analysis of how you will overcome any entry barriers to your chosen market.
A detailed explanation of your sales strategy, pricing plan, proposed advertising and promotion activities, and product or service's benefits.
An outline of your business's legal structure and management resources, including your internal management team, external management resources, and human resources needs.
A description of your business's physical location, facilities and equipment, kinds of employees needed, inventory requirements and suppliers, and any other applicable operating details, such as a description of the manufacturing process.
A description of your funding requirements, your detailed financial statements, and a financial statement analysis.
Appendices And Exhibits
Any additional information that will help establish the credibility of your business idea, such as marketing studies, photographs of your product, and/or contracts or other legal agreements pertinent to your business.