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Did you know that there are more than 500,000 new businesses started every month in the US*? Crazy, right? I’m pretty sure you want to be one of them or you wouldn’t be here, so stop procrastinating and start building now.

Here is your 3-step action plan for today:

1) Sign up to get free tips for building your business + you’ll receive my guide to the Top 10 Mistakes New Entrepreneurs Make


2) Visit my blog to start getting clear, understandable, and actionable info to help you build your business

3) For personalized assistance, take a look at how I help new entrepreneurs and make an appointment with me

Have a great day and be proud of yourself for taking your first step towards becoming a business owner 🙂

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Guest Post: Tips to Create a Great Business Plan

By on December 7, 2016

Our guest post this week is from Erika Brookes and she has some tips for writing a business plan. Also, don’t forget to check out my ebook if you need a more in-depth walk through of how to plan your business’ launch. Here’s Erika:

If you’re starting to get serious about launching your own small business, it’s important that you first craft a detailed business plan. Not only are business plans necessary in order to get funding from investors, but they are also helpful tools that keep you on the right path when you finally launch your business.

However, business plans can also be a harsh wake-up call for some entrepreneurs. These documents require you to think hard about the logistics of opening your own business—something that is often overlooked in the early stages. Because of this, it’s important that you craft a well-thought out business plan that covers everything your business needs to ensure its success.  

With the following top tips, you can be on your way to creating a winning business plan:

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Know Your Industry’s Market

Deciding to start an online store that sells eco-friendly t-shirts sounds good in your head, but how crowded is the current market? What is your industry projected to look like in the next five years? Knowing the answers to these questions is beneficial for many reasons. Not only does it show potential investors that you are able to define your target market and know what’s in store, it also gives you a better idea as to whether or not your business is going to come out on top.

Know Your Target Audience

Similarly, you need to know as much as you can about your target audience and the problems they’re facing. How does your product hope to solve their problems? If you have trouble answering that question or can’t seem to articulate what value your target audience has to gain from your product, it may not be such a good idea. Additionally, you need to make sure that your product has some distinct and unique advantage that will cause your target audience to choose you over your competition.

When in Doubt, Be Cautious with Estimates

Ideally, you don’t want to overestimate or underestimate your financial projections. However, being overly optimistic about your financial goals may make them seem less attainable to investors. When it comes to your market share, it’s better to underestimate to make you seem more credible. For example, while you hope to capture as much of the market as possible, it’s more realistic to plan for a smaller percentage, especially in the first year.

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Factor in Marketing

Your product may be amazing, but this hardly matters if no one knows about it. In your business plan, it’s important to factor in the cost of marketing your product or service. Additionally, you need a way to track the results of your marketing actions so that you know what’s working in order to increase conversions and grow your revenue. By including this in your business plan, you can describe to investors how you plan to generate sales and a better ROI.

Support Your Claims with Facts

If you are seeking funds from investors or lenders, backing up your claims with industry facts is essential. Explaining how you arrived at certain numbers, and that your educated guesses are based on facts gives you more credibility. Sources of free data that you can use include the U.S. Census Bureau, the Small Business Association (SBA) Business Data and Statistics page, and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Don’t Be Too Vague or Too Detailed

Being too vague in your business plan isn’t going to do you or your investors any favors. Your business plan should be concise and have enough detail that no one is confused or left with big questions after reading it.

Likewise, you also don’t want to be too detailed in your business plan. Going too far into technical aspects of your business is an easy way to become side-tracked, and anyone reading it may lose focus on what really matters. If you want to include the nitty gritty details, include an appendix at the end of your business plan with this information.

Check Off All the Key Areas

Every aspect of starting a business needs to be covered in your business plan. This includes the following areas:

  • Executive summary
  • Organization and management
  • Funding
  • Competition
  • Industry market
  • Financial projections
  • Marketing and sales
  • Product line or service
  • Company description

Including all of these areas in your business plan ensures that you have thought about starting your business from every angle and will help get it off the ground when the time comes.  

Anticipate Challenges

Starting a business is a risk, and it’s up to you to accurately evaluate the risks in your business plan. If you’re worried about scaring off investors by including a risk analysis in your plan, rest assured that it may do the opposite. Most investors know that investing in a startup is a risky endeavor. By including a risk analysis in your business plan, you are showing them that you are knowledgeable and realistic about the challenges that your business may face.   

This doesn’t mean that you should list every single risk out there. Just pick the risks that pertain to your business the most, and address them accordingly. By explaining how you plan on addressing these risks, investors will have greater confidence in your business.

Conclusion

Launching your own business isn’t easy—but it is significantly easier when you have a well-crafted business plan that paves the way for your success. To improve your chances of reaching your goals, ask yourself the right questions and answer them in your business plan.


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Erika is the Chief Marketing Officer at Springbot where she leads all brand, product, marketing campaigns and communications. Before joining Springbot, Erika was the vice president of product strategy for Oracle, the vice president of marketing and communications at Vitrue, and other executive-level marketing positions at leading technology companies like MindSpring, Earthlink and Rackspace. In her limited free time, you’ll find Erika running through Atlanta with her yellow labrador Sunny or sharing marketing insights on Twitter @ebrookes.

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Guest Post: Essential Features of a Small Business Website

By on November 23, 2016

Modern customers have near constant access to information and they don’t hesitate to use it to gain information on products and services. They’ll glance at reviews, consider the online reputation of the brand, and even conduct some in-depth research on

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Guest Post: Top Franchises for Every Budget

By on November 17, 2016

I know it’s not quite time for another post but I am sending another guest post your way. While I don’t have any background in franchises and don’t work with clients who operate franchises, I know that some of you

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Guest Post: 5 Simple Strategies for Minimizing Work-Related Stress

By on November 8, 2016

Even though I skipped an original post last week because I was recovering from my wisdom teeth removal, it’s still guest post week and we have another article from Rachel Craig, who’s written for us before 🙂 Whether you’re running

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Guest Post: Lessons a Small Business Owner Can Learn from a Professional Logo Designer

By on October 25, 2016

We’re back with another guest post this week. This one comes from freelance writer Melissa Lang: No matter what size of business you run, every business needs a company logo. When considering changes or rebranding to your original logo think

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What Do Investors Mean by “Scalable Business”?

By on October 18, 2016

Before I get into the post for this week, I have to give a shout-out to the amazing team at Colombia 4.0 – Elkin, Ana, Ivan, Alex, and everyone else…thank you sooooooooo much for the wonderful experience! I was already

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Guest Post: Create Value For Your Business By Hiring A Small Business Consultant

By on October 11, 2016

It’s guest post week again and today we have Rachael Everly sharing her perspective on the importance of getting an outside perspective as you begin to build your business. Here’s Rachael: It’s an established fact that managing a small business

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Understanding Top Down vs. Bottom Up Calculations for Business Planning

By on October 4, 2016

Today I want to talk about the difference between top down and bottom up calculations in business planning. When I meet with clients, much of our time is spent around crafting a business plan that sets the business owner up

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Guest Post: How Your Small Business Can Benefit from the Unboxing Trend

By on September 27, 2016

It’s guest post week again. This time we’ll hear from Suzanne Vallance of Ferrari Packaging. Here she is 🙂 ***** The rise of e-commerce has led to more packages being delivered than ever before. In 2015 it was predicted that

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The One Thing You Need to Win Customers and Investors

By on September 20, 2016

Today is going to be a short and sweet episode but I hope you’ll all take it very seriously because I want to talk about empathy. I know the title is a little click-baity but it’s the truth. In my