Monday, May 25, 2015

A Simple Small Business Plan - 14 Questions to Answer

If you are about to start or have just started a business, creating a business plan might have made your to-do list. Yet when you checked out traditional books for small businesses, most of them seemed irrelevant. They discuss things like how to hire the right people, getting all the legal stuff settled, buying office space and equipment, and taking out lines of credit.
If you plan to start a small company or work from home, these probably aren't your top concerns. What does concern you are things like: How do I make money? How do I find prospects? And what do I need to do to get them to hire me or buy my products?

Most business plans you get from books, templates or software are overly-bloated with exhaustive financial projections and painstaking details of every aspect of your business. It can seem like an overwhelming exercise in fortune-telling. How the heck can you possibly know where your business will be in three years? You just want to make some money now!
If you want a bare-bones business plan to help you start taking action to make your business a success, here are the fundamental questions you should address.
1) What are your business goals? Why are you starting this business? What are your personal and professional goals for the business?
2) Who will you serve? Who is the right customer for your business? What are their key frustrations and problems you can help them solve? What do they want most?
3) How will customers find you? How will you market your business? Do you have a list of potential contacts? Will you run ads? Set up a blog or website? Network with your local Chamber of Commerce?
4) How will you make money? What will you sell? Will you offer consulting or coaching services (aka advise clients for a fee)? Freelance or sell a service (aka manual labor for a fee)? Create informational products like ebooks, audio programs or membership sites? Sell affiliate products? Sell physical products on eBay?
5) How does this product or service solve your customer's needs? What types of people want to solve this problem? Is there a market for this product or service? Who is most likely to buy it?
6) How will you differentiate yourself? Why should customers choose your products and services over all other options available to them?
7) What resources do you need? Do you have the expertise, time, and money to make this business a reality? What do you need to create your products or deliver your services?
8) What costs and expenses will you have? What are your start up costs? What are your monthly expenses? How much money do you need to make to break even?
9) What projects are priorities? What projects need to be done? (A marketing campaign? Product creation? Delivering a consulting service to a client?) Which are most important?
10) Who is involved with the project? What partners and outside vendors can help you get the project completed? Who do you need to hire? How will you pay them?
11) How will you execute your plan? What tasks need to be done? Who is responsible for each task? When does each task need to be completed? How long will it take?
12) How will you know if it is working? If your project is a great success, what does that look like? What metrics will you measure?
13) What problems and obstacles may come up? What needs to be addressed now? What might we need to worry about later? What issues could sideline the project?
14) What are your next action steps? What three things can you do right now to move you forward?
Business planning might feel overwhelming, but getting the answers to these questions down on paper can help you clarify your vision and help you stay focused on what is most important to building your successful business.
If you want more help with how to get customers and market your business, download your free copy of our 45-page strategic marketing plan guide today at This hands-on workbook covers the 6 steps for creating your marketing strategy and includes a fill-in-the-blank marketing plan template you can use to craft your monthly marketing plan.
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