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Making Plans

The decision to start a home business automatically activates your planning skills, whether you realize it or not. And the more adept you are at making plans, the better off your business will be.

© 1997, by Lisa M. Roberts

Remember the moment you first found out you were going to be a parent? Elation, anticipation, frenzy -- all mingled together into a feeling that made you want to shout with joy from the top of a mountain...or curl up with your spouse in your own private world. Whatever your initial reaction, one thing was for certain. Shortly after hearing the news, you started making plans.

Well you might not feel quite as ecstatic the moment you become an expectant home business owner, but that moment will activate your planning skills, whether you realize it or not. And the more adept you are at making plans, the better off your business will be.

Just think how handy it would have been the day your baby came home to have had a booklet already written specifically about her, following your child's needs all the way from infancy through adulthood. From the moment she came under your care you would already know her sleep patterns, feeding times and favorite lullaby. How much easier parenthood would be if we all had such a resource!

While it's just not possible to research, analyze and forecast the life of a human being before she comes into the world, it is possible -- and very common -- to do so for a business venture. It's called a Business Plan.

A Business Plan is:

  • The collected result of all your preliminary business research.
  • A work in progress, through periodic evaluations and revisions, throughout the life of your business.

A Business Plan will:

  • Make life infinitely easier for you and your business once it is underway.
  • Guide you on your home business journey and keep you on track when it swerves.

Preparing an effective business plan should not double your preliminary efforts in launching your business. It simply gives all your efforts a physical shape in the form of a written document. A business plan is a customized reference guide tailored to your venture that:

  • Describes the services or products of your business.
  • Explains why it is needed and who it will serve.
  • Estimates upfront costs and when to expect a profit.
  • Identifies who will be involved in the division of labor.

Down the road a business plan can also serve as an example of your commitment that can be shown to loan officers, investors, or a potential partner. Initially, however, a business plan serves a simple purpose -- to gather all your thoughts together in one place. You should develop it at first for your eyes only (just to make certain they're wide open as you proceed!).

Here's a brief outline of what's needed (more detailed information is found in Lisa's Book):

  • Business Definition - A two to three sentence statement of the products or services you intend to sell.
  • Mission Statement - The goals of your business in relation to the community at large.
  • Market Analysis - The information you collected during your market research, and the conclusions you came to.
  • Competition - The information you discovered when you scouted out the competition.
  • Marketing Campaign - All the ways you plan to reach your market and why you believe they will work.
  • Business Set-Up - The route you will take to cover the practical details of business set-up. (See the following section, "Details, Details".)
  • Owner - Take the time here to pitch yourself to yourself - reflect on your past resume and bring to surface all skills and abilities that pertain to the business you have chosen, and all personal traits that are relevant to business management. In other words, if you were interviewing yourself, what would you say to convince yourself that you are perfect for this job?
  • Professional Support Team - Your lawyer, accountant, insurance agent and anyone else you expect to hire to help manage your business.
  • Business Outlook - Your hope for the business: what it's going to look like this year, next year, in five years, in 10 years. How will your business mature and how long will it last? (Some home-based entrepreneurs choose this work option for a fixed number of years, either as a stepping stone or a bridge in one's career.)
  • Financial Projections - The numbers...added up. 

© 1997 Lisa M. Roberts, all rights reserved. The above article is an excerpt from How to Raise A Family & A Career Under One Roof: A Parent's Guide to Home Business, a title highly recommended by La Leche League, Home Office Computing and the Family Christian Bookclub. Order your own copy today!

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