Small Business Plan Outline

Small Business Plan OutlineAn entrepreneur trying to start their own business needs to begin with a small business plan outline.

The small business plan is a guide that helps business owners stay focused on their goals/objectives and serves as a tool to solicit investors and lending institutions to finance the business.

To write an effective small business plan, you need to complete several steps to ensure that the final plan includes the necessary elements.

Small Business Plan Outline: 6 Steps to Success

1.) Small Business Plan Outline – Setup

Use the outline format of any word processing program to create a small business plan. An outline format makes the plan easier to read and easier to fill in any details you need to add later.

2.) Small Business Plan Outline – Business Description

Describe your business in the first section. Explain the kinds of products or services your business will offer, how you plan to manufacture the product or administer the service and what materials you will need. Include details about the kind of facility you will need and the types of equipment required.

3.) Small Business Plan Outline – Budget

Create a business budget and break it down into three parts: start-up costs, ongoing operating costs and a breakdown of the overhead into sections such as manpower and materials.

Provide as many details as possible in the budget section. Forecast your budget needs for ongoing operating costs for at least three years. Break the budget down by department, including sales, marketing, production and support.

4.) Small Business Plan Outline – Profit Projection

Develop a profit projection that shows the percentage growth you expect for the next three years. Cite reasons for your forecast and give examples of how you intend to grow your company.

5.) Small Business Plan Outline – Sales and Marketing

Present a sales and marketing plan that includes detailed analysis of your competition, how you intend to address the competition and a detailed explanation of how you will bring your product or service to the marketplace.

6.) Small Business Plan Outline – Biographical

Create a biographical section that features information about all executives and partners who will be involved in the company. Include compensation plans, detailed job descriptions for each person and resumes that outline past experience within the industry.

Have a business lawyer and accountant review your small business plan outline before you consider it finished.

Schedule a free coaching consultation with Wayne

Resource: U.S. Small Business Administration: Write a Business Plan

How to Buy a Small Business

How to buy a small businessStarting a new business can be a long and drawn out affair for most people, with the fruits of your labor not paying off until the business becomes profitable.

If you buy a small business that already exists, there are many advantages for entrepreneurs who want to avoid the time, effort and expense of starting a new business (either a franchise or an independent unit).

One of the most important factors to consider before you buy a small business is your familiarity with the business you plan to purchase.

The more familiar you are with the type of business you’re interested in buying, the better your chances for success.

Factors to Consider Before You Buy a Small Business

Once you have found the type of business you feel comfortable running, a number of other considerations should be taken into account. These include:

  • ~Has the business you intend to buy been profitable, or are you buying a business in trouble (distress sale)? Find out as many details about the business as you can – as well as the current owner. Why are they looking to exit the business?
  • ~Review the business’ financial records (past 3 years preferably), contracts and leases (if a brick/mortar unit). Tax returns for the last five years should also be reviewed to determine what kind of tax liabilities could be incurred. What is their cash-flow like? Is it a seasonal business? How much of the business is labor cost? What type of Labor are you dealing with? Is there any re-curring business?
  • ~In addition, a thorough review of the business’ bank accounts, sales records, customer lists, payroll benefits and employee pension plans, as well as an employee roster should be taken into account before committing to purchasing the business.

Before You Buy a Small Business, get Professional Assistance

Purchasing an existing business may save a lot of time versus starting a business on your own. Nevertheless, unless you are a business lawyer or an accountant, reviewing all of the documents of an existing business before making an offer could be overwhelming.

Enlisting the services of a competent attorney and CPA/Business Appraisal company could save you considerable time and expense. Depending on the size and nature of the business you plan to buy, other professionals may also be needed to consult.

After doing all the preliminary work, you can then make an offer through a letter of intent, followed by a formal offer of cash or other assets. You should have all your bases covered before you make a formal offer.

To buy a small business takes considerable effort before the sale and after you launch as the new owner. In many ways, treat it like a new business with planning, marketing and customer service taking priority.

Schedule a free coaching consultation with Wayne

SaaS – Software as a Service for Small Business

Are you familiar with “SaaS”— Software as a Service?

Saas - Software as a Service for Small Business Owners Put simply: It’s software available from the “cloud” and not off the shelf.

Let’s first agree with the adage that “if you’re not measuring, you’re not managing.”

Then one of your many challenges is finding software to track and report on different areas of the business—marketing, operations, administration—that you can afford.

You may not realize it, but if you’re using antiquated software, it’s costing you more in lost sales and employee productivity and morale than you think you’re saving by not investing in the latest operating system(s).

The Benefits of SaaS

So what again is SaaS and how can it help you? Advertisers fancifully describe it as “cloud computing.” All that means is it’s web-based software … software as a service (usually a subscription) on the web … and it can save you time and money.

Here’s a long-answer comparison between traditional software and SaaS. The traditional variety is mostly sold as a desktop product with an up-front cost, an ongoing license fee and an optional ongoing support package.

Lower Setup and Customization Costs

SaaS providers, on the other hand, generally price applications using a subscription fee, most commonly a monthly or an annual fee. The benefit to you is that the SaaS setup cost is typically lower than the equivalent desktop software.

Other attractive benefits and functional features of SaaS are that providers typically price their applications based on some usage parameters, such as the number of users working the application.

With SaaS software it will be easier for you to log-in to your accounts from remote locations and connect to data.

Additionally, since SaaS products usually have some customization capabilities, you can tailor the software to your business—without spending a lot of money!

An SaaS for your every Small Business Need

There’s more good news! There are a growing number of providers offering reliable and secure cloud products in virtually every area of business management:

  • accounting and finance
  • calendar and scheduling
  • customer relationship management (crm)
  • productivity, sales and marketing
  • project management
  • management information systems

and much more. There’s even software for collaboration and brainstorming. (Check out my brainstorming blog post Problem Solving Strategies.)

How do you find SaaS providers? Easy. My advice is to go to the Google Apps Marketplace and browse for applications that fit your business needs. It is that easy.

I use a number of Saas – Software as a Service in my business. You should, too.

Time Management Techniques for Small Business Owners

Time management techniques for small businessWhen I visit small business owners—mostly service businesses—it’s evident early on why some owners are successful and others struggle.

It’s all about implementing time management techniques.

As an owner, you know just getting through the day many times seems like an insurmountable challenge (my business coaching will help you with that).

But you can’t take your eyes off future critical dates: weekly, bi-weekly, monthly and quarterly reporting and planning periods.

Take Your Control Back with Structured Time Management Techniques

Define a Daily Schedule

No matter what business you’re in, you need to have a defined daily schedule and adhere to it … as best you can. I know. It’s not easy. I’ve been there: You feel like you’re “running around like a chicken with its head cut off”.

Unlike a football quarterback who may let the game come to him, you have to take control of your time and ward off those pesky distractions that can keep you from moving forward and that sack you of energy. This may be one of the hardest time management techniques, but you can do it; you just have to discipline yourself.

Follow a Daily Routine

A routine is not a rut; it’s a groove to guide you and to act as a safety barrier if you feel like your careening off course.

One of my mentors, at the end of each day, plotted his tomorrow. He made regularly scheduled time for production (job-site management, production management), marketing and sales, as well as administrative responsibilities.

On the lighter side he said, “If you’re going to lie awake at night fretting about tomorrow at least your thoughts will be organized.”

You’ll find that each day of the week becomes scheduled and systematized. You’ll be more efficient in how you allocate your time and more productive as a leader. And as an owner, develop a “day in the life of” to train your staff to follow their own routines:

For example, 8 am – 11 am is operations, 11 am – 2 pm is flex time and 2 pm – 5 pm is marketing.

Time management techniques allow you to look ahead, set aside specific times each week—say Wednesday afternoon and Sunday evening—to manage the administration of the business and to make changes to job status reports——as data changes.

Dedicate one day a week—Thursday is a great time—for no meetings. Tackle those tasks that need your full attention without getting yourself tied up in non-essential meetings that are a “time suck.”

Prioritize a To Do List or Schedule

By all means, prioritize your tasks, e.g., A (most important), B and C (of lesser importance).

Too often I see people busy taking care of “C” items and avoiding the overwhelming “A” items. DON’T. You’ll find that sticking to a schedule and tackling the tougher problems first will give you greater satisfaction and propel you through the rest of the day.

Put Time Management Techniques on your To Do List

A WORD TO THE WISE: Use a calendar either online or the ol’ school paper variety to post your meetings and responsibilities. I can tell you from experience, discipline yourself to keep a “to-do list” and to keep to it.

Put time management techniques into place and make them a habit. You’ll sleep better at night.

Strategic Business Plan for the New Year

You and I are small business owners. We are entrepreneurs. Business strategic planning is an important piece of our success. I’d like to share with you a simple strategic business plan I create at the beginning of each year.

My Strategic Business Plan Shopping List

Strategic Business Plan for Small Business Owners and EntrepreneursDuring the holidays I make two shopping lists. One that’s under wraps for family and friends … and another shopping list for my business.

It’s not a “wish” list of stuff I want to buy; though I am an entrepreneur and I always want stuff.

It’s not my New Year’s resolutions, because to be successful, I’d have to fulfill them. And that’s just not a good strategy.

My annual strategic business plan is part “to-do” list, part calendar of events, and part self-help plan.

A few of the to-dos include purchasing a personal cloud storage system that combines the best features of both Internet cloud and network attached storage, and memory cards for my camera. Both are included and budgeted in my annual plan.

The rest of my business shopping list is grouped under four headings: “Big Idea,” “Knowledge,” “Time” and “Hiring.”

What’s your Big Idea?

You may not think my Big Idea is grand and ground-breaking, but for me—and I’m sure for many of you—it’s a commitment to keep up with the rate of change outside of business and to stay a step ahead of my competition.

A strategic business plan should always look to the future.

I’m thinking MOBILE FIRST: I’m investing in a new smartphone and upgrading my tablet. If you want to advance your business, improve your digital presence.

Knowledge: Never Stop Learning

Under Knowledge, I’ve enrolled in several seminars that will improve my business and my leadership skills. Even though I am a Business Coach, I’m always learning and bringing new ideas to my clients.

STRATEGY TIP: Don’t stop learning. Each year, take a training program on leadership. Better yet, start working with a business coach. (Don’t forget: The top golfers in the world, who earn a living playing the game, all have swing coaches.)

Take Time to Step Away and Recharge

For Time, which I know you need more of, I do something different. I step away from the business at least once a quarter to “recharge the batteries.”

I have a two-day, out-of-town golf tournament plotted on next year’s calendar. It’s a getaway for me, a mind cleansing, if you will, and I can promise from experience that when I return, I’ll be re-energized and more effective in my business.

Time away can also be as simple and easy as seeing a movie or frequenting a comedy club to relish a good laugh. For one of my clients, I recommended she join a health club … and use it!

You have to take a break from time to time. Don’t worry. The business will be there when you return. A strategic business plan should emphasize non-business activities so that you can be more effective in your business.

Hiring: Invest in Effective Tools

Last is Hiring. If your goals are to grow and to expand, you’ll need to recruit new people. Good people.

There are many options for generating response through ads and employment agencies. But networking may be a far better option.

Spreading the word through existing business relationships and resources provides first-hand feedback and references you couldn’t get with a pile of resumes.

STRATEGY TIP: Give yourself a gift and sign up for the professional membership in LinkedIn to help your recruiting efforts.

Add “Create Strategic Business Plan” to your To Do List

Include my suggested sections … your “Big Idea”, Knowledge, Time and Hiring. And then add your own. Create your business shopping list to ensure a prosperous New Year, every year.

Schedule a free coaching consultation with Wayne

Insurance for Small Business

A Guide to Insurance for Small Business and Startups

Wayne interviews Stewart Nelson, Senior Risk Advisor at Kapnick Insurance Group. Stew discusses property and casualty insurance for small business owners. Learn about worker’s compensation, general liability and umbrella policies including expert guidance on how to protect your business.

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