Laundromat Business Plan

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These days most experts will advise you to create a business plan before you decide to take the risks that are associated with starting a business. A laundromat is typically a little more complicated than other small business models so the need for research, planning and a clear direction are even more essential for entrepreneurs entering the coin operated laundry industry.

A laundromat business plan will help you to prove to yourself that your ideas are viable. With a plan in place you will be able to set clear goals and map out a path towards achieving them in an organized manner. A sound business plan may become essential if you have to show it to financiers or investors prior to getting the startup funds that you need. Lastly it will help you to be more realistic and to ask yourself some tough questions about your ideas.

In this article we have set out a sample laundromat business plan layout. We have set out some examples of titles and content that you might consider using. Feel free to use it as a template as you proceed to put your own plan together.

Cover Letter

Your plan should be set out neatly in a folder with a cover that outlines what the report is about and who contributed to it. It is likely that many different parties will read your plan so you may consider attaching a cover letter to each one that addresses the reader specifically, highlighting the concerns that they will have.

Contents Page

If the plan is any longer than a couple of pages you should include a table of contents. This includes a list of all headings and sub-headings together with a page reference so that the information can be located quickly by the reader.

Executive Summary

An executive summary is a simple introduction to the report. Give the reader a brief introduction to your business plan and summarize each of the sections in the plan.

Mission Statement

While not essential, some businesses like to set out a mission statement which outlines their purpose or business philosophy. It usually covers non-financial motives. For a laundromat you might say that you strive to provide the best service to your customers or that you want to provide a clean, safe and efficient way for them to do their laundry. Your mission should be to do your best for the customer and to be better than your competitors.

Background

Provide readers with some background information on yourself and any other individuals who are involved with the proposed laundromat. Readers may want to know what your qualifications are and if you have had any experience in business or in the coin laundry industry.

Provide a background on the local coin laundry industry so that readers get a better understanding of the opportunities that are available.

If your planning has been in progress for a while then you might want to update the reader on what stage you are at. If you are considering purchasing an existing laundromat then you will want to outline the history of the business in this section too.

Business Description

Offer readers a basic description of the proposed coin laundry business. When will your new unit open for business? Where will it be located? Will you have an attendant on-site at the laundromat all day or only part-time?

Goals and Targets

Set out a list of realistic targets that you want to achieve with the business in the first year or two. Such targets could be financial and relate to gross or net profits on a monthly basis. They could also be related to other metrics such as membership numbers or customer satisfaction rates. Thinking longer term you may also set goals to expand into new locations.

Startup Requirements

Before you can launch your new laundromat business you must know exactly what you are going to need and how much it will cost. Costs will include everything from equipment purchases, renovations and marketing along with professional fees and compliance costs.

Once you have listed everything out you can then work out the total startup cost. From here you can mention some of the options that you have for funding the laundromat. Mention how much you will be able to contribute yourself and how much external funding you will require.

Products and Services

Go through the services that you plan on offering to customers. As well as a basic machine laundry service with washers and dryers you may also offer more upmarket services like ironing or dry cleaning. Make a note of the products that will be vended onsite. Obviously you will sell washing related products like soap powder and fabric softener but you may also offer non-related products like coffee and soda.

Market Analysis

As a prerequisite to writing a plan you should have done at least a little market research around the area where you propose to open your coin laundry. You can present your findings in this section of the plan.

In your research you should attempt to discover if there is sufficient demand for a laundromat in the area in question and if so, exactly what kind of services the people within this target market want.

You also need to consider the competition that you have in the local area. Produce a map that shows your customer catchment area bearing in mind that customers will usually go to the laundromat that is more convenient for them to get to. Look at the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Is it going to be possible to pull customers from the catchment area of competing laundromats? Can you make your service that much more attractive than theirs?

Marketing Plan

Set out a plan to bring new customers into your laundromat and to convert them into regulars. The marketing component of your plan should cover everything from the development of your brand, pricing, advertising, other marketing methods and customer service.

Remember that in the laundromat business you will be relying on building long term relationships with regular customers. You not only need to focus on bringing in new customers but you also have to focus on satisfying and ‘over delivering’ to your existing customer base. If you retain your customers and please them then you will also benefit by referrals and ‘word of mouth’.

Business Operations

Set out a plan for the daily operation of your laundromat. Make a note of the equipment that you will have in place and how the demands for water and energy will be met. Mention how you plan on maintaining the machines.

Discuss your daily staff requirements. What role will you, as the owner take in the daily running of the laundromat? How many employees will you need and what will their responsibilities be?

What other systems will you have in place to ensure that the laundromat runs smoothly on a daily basis and that you can control and manage the business efficiently. Will you have a computer system to keep track of stock and cash flows? What about a security system?

Financial Analysis

Lastly, but most importantly, a sound business plan will include detailed financial forecasts over a period of two to three years. This data is best displayed in spreadsheets so that you can set up a column for each month. Some businesses include more than one spreadsheet to allow for different situations. You may consider including one as a best case scenario and others that show revenue growing at a slower rate than is expected.

Try to identify a break even point where the business would basically be running without making a profit, but without losing money at the same time. Then you will have an idea of the customer volume that you will have to aim for. To calculate break even point you need to assume an average customer spend per visit and then calculate the number of customer visits needed on a monthly basis.

If you are borrowing money to start the business you should also include a repayment schedule to show how fast the loan will be paid back.

Appendix

Many assumptions are made in business plans so it is important to be able to give reasons as to why you made such assumptions. Rather than guessing you should try to include data that backs up your theories. Include an appendix at the end of your plan that includes all supporting materials that don’t fit conveniently into the pages of the report. These could include maps, pictures, spreadsheets, tables and lists of references and sources to name just a few examples.

Plan for Your Home Business

Are you writing a business plan for you home business? Do you really need one?

Why writing a business plan for a home business? A home business like any other needs a road map to a new destination. If you do not use one, you will end up lost before you get to your destination.

Every business no matter how small it is, must a have a business plan. You may not need a “formal” business plan document but you definitely need a “business plan” for you home business.

A formal business plan is a very long detail document with about 80-100 pages. A home business may not need this kind of elaborate plan, but writing a business plan is not an option. It is critical for your business.

Writing a business plan for your home business plan is just your “strategic planning.” You want to cover at least four major elements: 1) Your home business description and elements, 2) Your marketing plan, 3) Your financial plan, 4)) Your operations plan

1) Your Home Business Description and Elements: This element covers what kind of business you are doing. Regardless of your home business of choice, at the very minimum, you need to have the following:

  • Why: What is your main purpose of having home business? If it is just money, you may want to reconsider. Any business has to be driven by some sort of desire besides the financial rewards. This desire will give you the self-motivation that you need to do it; otherwise, you are setting yourself up to fail.
  • What: What is your home business? What is your product or service? What is your focus?
  • When: When do you plan to do it? Do you plan to work every day for 2-3 hours or 10 hours a day? Did you notice I said every day?
  • Where: The location is probably your home, but where in your home. Do you have a designated space for it? Can you have everything you need available in this space?
  • How: how you are going to execute? Is your business a one-person show? Do you need an assistant or a particular tool? Who is involved in your business?

2) Your Home Business-Marketing Plan: When writing a business plan, marketing is crucial. At the beginning, you can do many things. In addition, there are many that you do not know and you are not familiar with, however, at the very least, plan what you know.

  • Do you need a website or a blog?
  • How do you plan to get clients? Do you need word of mouth referrals? Do you need friend’s referrals or other local business referrals?
  • What is your market? Who is your target audience? Age, gender, and location, are important elements.
  • What are you customer needs? What problem are you trying to solve for them?
  • Who is your competition? How can you be better than they can?

3) Your Financial Plan: Although there are many home businesses that do not need a lot of money to start, you do need some capital to start and some to maintain. Do you know how much that is? Can you afford to start a business? Are you banking in your business to produce and maintain itself right away? If the latter is the case, you may want to reconsider. It will be a shame to put many hours of work and count in income you are not sure is going to come.

4) Your Operations Plan: This is your initial description on you plan of action

  • List your priorities
  • List your short-term items and have a dateline
  • List your long-term items and have a dateline
  • List your daily actions
  • Schedule your daily actions and your priorities

Although many home businesses have started with nothing in place, most have fail for not having something in place from the start. Writing a business plan does not guarantee success but it does guarantee you clarity in what you want to do and how to accomplish it.

This plan is necessary to utilize during your road trip. You adjust as you go. You correct and continue. It may be in just 5 pieces of paper, but if you did your homework, may be that is all you need to start and become successful.

Business Planning for Women

An increasing number of women are starting small businesses.

The number of small businesses that are starting up with women at the helm is growing and 30% of business owners in the UK are women (Labour Force Survey 2003). The reasons women decide to start their own business vary, with most reporting that they want to be their own boss, choose their working hours and enjoy better work life balance.

However for many of these women the reality of running a small business does not live up to their expectations; it is difficult to fulfill their dreams for their business and they become disillusioned and overwhelmed with the ongoing struggle of running a small business alongside their other roles in life – mother, partner, friend, daughter, chef, chauffeur, socialite – the list goes on!

One area that has been identified as a significant factor limiting the success of women in business is a lack of business planning.

Many women entrepreneurs and small business owners fail to set aside the time to develop (and regularly re-visit) their business vision and strategy. As the old quote goes, ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. It is generally agreed that if you want your small business to succeed, you have a much greater chance if you have a clear vision and an action plan for bringing that vision about.

So what stops women who are starting a small business from developing an inspired and effective business plan?

After all, we know that we should have a business plan but despite the best of intentions to succeed in our business, many of us don’t! Why is this? What is it that stops us sitting down and writing a clear plan and strategy for our business, especially when we know that we are more likely to succeed if we do it?

We believe it is partly because writing a business plan is boring! Let’s face it, it feels like a chore so we don’t do it. We may get the resources together that we need, we may even get part of the way through writing it, but it is the rare few that actually complete a comprehensive business plan outlining a clear vision, strategy and action plan for their business. Often, we are chomping at the bit to get our product or service out into the world and figure we can simply skip the boring planning bit altogether right? We can certainly relate to this feeling because we struggled with business planning in the early days – we gave it a try but never seemed to get further than a few pages in!

It is our view that traditional models of business planning do not cater for women in business!

We believe that traditional models of business planning and strategizing don’t recognise that women in business have a life outside of work – that they have a partner, friends and family to think about and are not prepared to compromise on health and relationships to have a successful and profitable business. Women today want the best of both worlds; we think it is possible and that they deserve to have it!

Conventional business planning and management approaches are grounded in the belief that work and personal life should be kept separate, a task impossible for most women today. This makes it very difficult for them to create and sustain a business that acknowledges their business ambition AND empowers them to bring about great relationships and a healthy and balanced lifestyle for themselves and their loved ones.

So how can business planning be tailored to meet the needs of women in business?

Whether you are starting out in business or you are well-established, we encourage you to prioritise business planning in order to ensure a strategic approach to business growth and success.

  • Set aside the time and space to make this happen in your business now.
  • Acknowledge that traditional models of business planning may be a great starting point, but that they may not address your needs as a business woman who also values health, relationships and having a life outside of work.
  • Think outside the square and discover ways to plan your business that relieve stress rather than increase it. Look for tools that empower you to bring all aspects of yourself to the planning process – personal and professional – because the reality is that for women in business the two are intertwined and to be successful in one you must pay attention and care for the other!
  • Get creative in your approach – both to the process of business planning and also to the way you can incorporate the other aspects of your life into your successful business strategy.
  • Take action to implement your strategy so that it comes to life for you.
  • Commit to re-visiting with your business plan on an ongoing basis to ensure.

Business planning is vital to the success of your business, and can also encompass all the aspects of your life.

You do not have to sacrifice your health and relationships to be a successful business owner and entrepreneur. Take action now and plan for your success in business and in life.

Part 1 of Your Business Plan

Remember when you were a kid and your allowance was just never enough for all the hockey cards or bubble gum that you wanted? So like any normal kid, you came up with creative ways to make more money. Maybe you tried selling an old broken toy to your little brother, or perhaps you decided to take on a venture like the iconic lemonade stand. Perhaps, you would try poaching supplies from the kitchen, only to be run off by a parent. Or maybe, you had a more organized approach. Maybe some of you knew you would have to have a plan before the parents would let us get into something so involved. You would make a list of what was needed, what you would charge per serving and how you split up the money. It would have been your first business plan – albeit a little undeveloped.

No matter the size, age or purpose of a business – it needs a plan. Even if you started your business years ago with the intention of just running it out of your garage, you still need a plan. So what is a business plan, aside from a list of supplies and prices? It is a formal statement of goals for your business, the reasons they are attainable and a plan for reaching them. Some business plans are hundreds of pages long, others begin as notes on a scrap piece of paper. No matter how it begins, the end result will bring your business closer to success. Below is an outline of the main components to your business plan.

Executive Summary

The executive summary summarizes your business plan. The most important component of it is your mission statement. It will sum up the purpose of your business, what you will tell your clients to make them understand what it is you do. The executive summary will not contain any technical language, highlighting the most important components of the business and how you plan to make it succeed. Basically, if your reader does not wish to go over every detail of the entire plan at that particular time, they will be able to read the executive summary and still have a good grasp of your venture. If you are drawing up a plan for an existing business, include how many years in operation, the existing legal and financial structures. The document will make recommendations on how you plan to meet your goals, but the step by step details will be in the body of the business plan. If there are multiple sections in your business plan, the executive summary will summarize them. If you are seeking financial assistance, this where you would sum up your needs, the reasons you need the money and how you plan to pay it back. The document will end with a conclusion summarizing the overall executive summary. The executive summary should be located at the front of your business plan, but it is best to write it after you have written the rest of the plan first. When all the research is done and you have thought about every little detail of the past, present and future of your venture, the executive summary will be much easier to write.

Business Description

Here is where you describe your business in more detail. Some very small businesses do not include this section because the information is already adequately listed in the executive summary. For mid to large ventures, this section is very important as it gives the reader a much clearer idea of the day to day operations. If you are an existing business, list the details on your corporate structure, the size of your work force, key product lines, physical locations of assets (such as real estate and large equipment) and the annual sales figures. If you are a brand new business, your business description will be more simple. List employees you expect to hire, projected sales figures, the products you expect to push the most revenue, location of facilities (where you plan to do business), at what stage of development you are in and your corporate structure (if you have one). The management team is also outlined in this section, as well as their responsibilities.

For larger more comprehensive ventures, there will be sections on business environment analysis, industry background and competitor analysis. These are very important issues to cover, especially when asking for financial assistance. Any one defect in the above assessments could mean the failure of the venture, so be realistic in your research and conclusions. For smaller businesses, old or new, these sections may not need to be covered at all. If you feel they are relevant to your plan but do not require their own section, simply include them with the business description portion of the business plan.

The business description will probably be the first and easiest part of the business plan to write. It is a great way to begin, as it gets you thinking about all the details you may not have considered before. If we continued to use the lemonade stand as our example business for drawing up a business plan, then the business description would probably be very simple. We would describe whose house our table would be in front of, if a parent was supervising the operations and what we have already done in preparation to open. In part two of this series, we will look at the core of our business and how to document it.

Business Plan Tips and Resources

There is great debate as to whether entrepreneurs should have business plans. Although they are required for people seeking business loans, you should still have one even if are not seeking financial assistance at this time. Keep in mind that you may need a loan in the future, and the foundation of your plan will already be laid.

A written plan helps you define what you are offering, who you selling to; and how much you need to sell to make a profit. Some people get intimidated by the thought of preparing a business plan. While it does take time to write, you don’t have to complete it all at once. Remember, a business plan will never be final. You will continually revisit and revise your plan as your business continues to evolve and grow.

In the early stages of planning, your document should clearly define your product and service offerings; target markets; marketing strategy; and financial plan.

There are a few things to keep in mind as you write your business plan.

  • Your business plan can be as few as five pages as long as you address the above-mentioned essentials.
  • You can’t be everything to everybody, so market research is essential. Just because your product or service appeals to several groups of people doesn’t mean they want it or are willing to pay for it.
  • If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Research is crucial. You need to study the market you want to serve and the industry you want to enter.
  • Revisit your plan as often as needed.
  • Your market research and financial plans are the most important aspects of your plan.
  • It doesn’t have to be overly formal. This is your plan. It can be as informal as you want as long as you understand what you mean.
  • Use images to help visualize your goals and plans.
  • Write any thoughts about your business that comes to mind. This is your place to see what works and what doesn’t.
  • You are in business to make money. If you want to be charitable, start a nonprofit. If you don’t like taking people’s money, make your activities your hobby.

Check out books and sample plans to get you going, but use them as resources only. Do not try to fit your business into someone else’s model – even if you have the same business. Their dream is not your dream; therefore, you will get frustrated trying to make it fit. All books on business plans are not good books. Go to a local bookstore or library to review a few and select two or three that work best for you.

The following sources can help you through the business plan writing process and make it less intimidating.

Organizations that support small business owners

  • Small Business Administration
  • Women’s Business Development Center
  • SCORE
  • Business departments at colleges and universities
  • Other established business owners
  • Local chambers of commerce and business associations

Business Plan Resources

  • Small Business Administration
  • BPlans.com
  • Entrepreneur
  • Women’s Business Development Center
  • City and state resources for small business owners
  • Bookstores and libraries

Market Research Resources
These books can be found in the reference section at the library. Most cannot be checked out. However, you may luck up and find them on an online bookstores at a fraction of the cost.

Print Directories

  • Directory of Associations / Directory of Tradeshows
  • Sourcebook of Zip Code Demographics
  • American Market Place
  • Small Business Sourcebook
  • Best Customers – Demographics of Consumer Demand
  • Survey of Current Businesses
  • Industry and Trade Outlook
  • State and Metropolitan Area Data Book

Online Resources

  • Reference USA
  • ABI/Inform
  • ProQuest
  • Census – Business Census

Above are just a few tools to get you started on your business plan writing journey. If at anytime you feel stuck, contact one of the organizations listed to speak with a counselor. If you need assistance with your marketing or financial plans, they can help you with those, too. Just be sure to have a plan.

Writing An Effective Business Plan

Numerous statistics have shown that having a business plan can be very helpful for those planning to start or grow their business. Putting together a business plan can be illuminating to those who have very limited understanding of business management skills and how the process works in practice. Whilst there are numerous text books and templates available on how to put together a business plan, I have found that this is not always helpful for the novice who still need a hand holding. Getting support from an expert can be helpful but the financial investment can be a stumbling block. One way to overcome the investment challenge is to source experts with flexible approach in supporting clients with their business planning. For instance, how about utilising a seminar or a workshop where you can get all the support you need on the day from a qualified expert working in a group. Many small businesses have used this approach to circumvent the barrier of consultancy fees. Another option is to undertake a distance learning course with some online support from an expert incorporated within the process, which will ensure you complete your business plan as a core outcome of the course.

I guess some of you may never have thought about this. Remember there is always a solution to every perceived problem. In my company, we offer flexible support to all who are in need of putting together their business plan. We do group coaching, seminars, consultancy and distance learning course. You can even download free business plan template from our website or purchase one of the best books you can ever find in business planning titled ‘My Business Is My Business’ Learn How To Earn A Fortune – endorsed by the Co-Writer of Chicken Soup For The Soul and International Bestselling author Mark Victor Hansen.

Typically, business plans are needed for:

1. Business startup – when you are planning to start a business

2. Business development and growth- when you are planning to penetrate new and existing market with new products or existing products

3. Raising business finance- when you are planning to raise finance for a new or existing business

Here is a summary of how to prepare a financial plan linked directly to a business plan:

To calculate sales income /turnover forecast:

A. Make an assumption on the total number of goods and services the business expects to sell each month over the next 12 months. Remember to be realistic as new businesses very rarely start off with a high sales volume. In the case of a new business, you will need to set sales volume very low at the initial stage of the business to reflect the time spent advertising and promoting the services or products in an effort to generate leads and sales.

B. Make an assumption on the selling prices of goods and services. Again, ensure that the selling prices reflect what the market will be willing and able to pay. This is most likely going to be a reflection of market competition (the number of suppliers against the demand for the goods and services) as well as the purchasing power of the market (i.e. how much money consumers have to spend on goods and services).

C. Multiply the selling prices of goods and services, by the expected sales volume estimated to determine the monetary value of each month’s sales. Remember that where a business provides multiple types of goods and services, the value of sales must be determined for each of them.

D. In the case of voluntary sector organisations that rely on grants, donations and fundraising income, you will need to make an assumption on the type of grants expected and the value of grants in monetary terms based on your market knowledge. In the same vein, you will need to make an assumption on the number of fundraising events the business expects to undertake and the amount expected to be generated from each event. The assumption for donations can either be informed from historical trends or best estimates based on the strategy that will be used to generate them. Whatever approach is used, it is important that the assumptions are realistic to minimise the risk of overstating income. Remember that factors such as: government policy (taxation rate, regulation, public sector spending priority), the health of the economy (unemployment, interest rates, inflation rate etc), and the business’ relationship with its sponsors /wider community will ultimately influence many aspects of the income generated- so keep a watch on these factors.

To calculate expenditure forecast:

E. Make an assumption on the type of resources required to produce the sales income specified in “C” above. Resources in this case may include: staff (type), building (size, location etc), office furniture and equipment (computers, fax, telephone, heating, insurance etc) etc. It is for you to determine clearly what types of resources are required.

F. Make an assumption on the level of resources required as stated in “E” above to deliver the plan based on the assumptions on sales volume. For instance, you need to state what type of staff you need and how many, what type of computers or machines you need and how many etc.

G. Make an assumption for the prices of the resources (stated in “F” above) required to deliver the sales volume. Remember that the prices of the resources must be realistic and evidence based. An unrealistic price level will undermine the quality of the financial plan in that it will not be feasible (i.e. not achievable). Also remember that the prices of some resources tend to increase in line with the general inflation, whereas others increase at a rate below or above the general inflation index. You are therefore advised to desist from making generalised inflation assumptions (i.e. price assumptions).

H. Quantify the resources required to produce the goods and services by multiplying the prices of the resources by the volume of the resources as set out in “F” and “G” above. At this stage you have determined the value of the different types of expenditure you expect to incur to deliver the business plan. However, it is worth noting that the expenditure will differ in nature and so it is important that steps are taken to carefully categorise expenditure into “Revenue and Capital Expenditure” to ensure correct accounting treatment when producing the “Income and Expenditure Forecast (Profit and Loss Statement), “Balance Sheet Forecast” and “Cash Flow Forecast”. This will become clearer when we look at a worked example. For now, let us briefly define “Revenue and Capital Expenditure”. Capital Expenditures are expenditures that result in the acquisition of tangible items such as buildings, computers or furniture. At the initial purchase of capital items, almost the entire purchased price is shown in the balance sheet with only a proportion of the expense shown in the profit and loss statement to reflect the reduction in value of the items or the value of the capital item consumed during the financial year. Revenue Expenditures are expenditures that do not result in the acquisition of tangible items. They are usually consumed in the financial year they are purchased and will be shown in full as expenditure in the profit and loss statement or income and expenditure statement. If you need to know more about this, please read our booklet titled “Introduction to Financial Statement”. This booklet is packed with lots of practical examples and explanations specially written for non- finance experts.

Writing a Business Plan

One of the first steps in creating a new company is writing a business plan. The business plan serves a wide variety of functions, including, though by no means limited to, the following:

It defines and focuses your objective using appropriate information and analysis.

It is used as a selling tool, offering pertinent information to lenders, investors and banks.

Study of your business plan may reveal gaps and weaknesses in your initial concept.

A well-written business plan may be used to solicit opinions and advice from experienced experts in the field, offering sound guidance and a head-start to those new to the market.

Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Business Plan

There are certain common errors made in business plans that are very easy to make, and you should take special care to avoid.

Do Not Indulge in Over-optimism – You probably would not be going into business if you were not optimistic about your future in it, but a business plan is a hard bitten and realistic document. Do not be pessimistic, but be very conservative and realistic regarding things like capital requirements, timelines, sales, and profits. Most new businesspeople underestimate the amount of capital that will be required to start the new business.

Do Have a Back-up Plan – Do not ignore the potential adversities that a new business may encounter. Spell out strategies for tackling them within the plan.

Do Not Rely on Gimmicks – Do not rely exclusively upon the individuality of your business idea or even of a proprietary invention that no one else has. All business success is based on a plan with a solid economic format, not the great inventions. The things that make your business stand apart may well help your success, but they will be worthless without the sound financial plan.

Do Use Appropriate Language – You are communicating business ideas to potential investors and lenders who may have no idea about the minutia of the business that you are launching. Stay clear of specialized, industry vocabulary and lingo in your descriptions.

Do Answer All Questions – Make every attempt to answer all the questions that a potential investor, lender, or business associate might have about every aspect of your business plan. Do not leave gaping holes.

Building the Plan

There are numerous variations on how to write business plans, and, like all good quality business communications, they must be tailored to the individual company involved. The following elements, however, are fundamental to all basic business plans:

Start with a Vision Statement. This is a brief outline of your goal in founding your business. This is the big-picture place, so if you are going to get dreamy-eyed and romantic anywhere in your business plan, this is the only place where you might get away with it. Your vision statement may be as brief as a single sentence, but is more likely going to be a short paragraph.

Next, introduce yourself, focusing on your prior experience as is applicable to the new business. If there are partners in the business, the same information goes for each of them. Prepare rsums for yourself and each partner. Be factual and avoid self-aggrandizement. This portion of your business plan will be meticulously reviewed by those with whom you are forging relationships, including lenders, investors, and vendors. If you have personnel shortcomings that you plan to hire or contract to fill, include that here too. For example, if you do not have business budgeting experience, indicate that you intend to contract an experienced financial professional to maintain your books and offer guidance where necessary.

The third section is your business profile. Here is where you present the details of how you will do business. Spell out the details about facility rental, materials acquisition, and staffing requirements. Detail the volume of trade that you need to reach the break-even point, and project when you foresee reaching that point.

The fourth section is your economic assessment. Explain the niche in the economy that your business will fill, and why it will succeed. Bring in studies provided by regulatory agencies if appropriate and possible. Show demographics and traffic flow if appropriate. Show your potential lenders why your business is the place to put their money.

Finally, provide a cash flow assessment, projecting a one-year plan. Again, be realistic, but not pessimistic. Do provide for potential economic difficulties and how you will address them.

In addition to these fundamentals, you may also include a discussion of your marketing plan and plans for future expansion. There are numerous government websites with valuable information pertaining to small businesses – make use of that information in your business plan. There may be sites that pertain to your specific business, and the Small Business Administration has a volume of valuable information pertaining to all start-up businesses. Additionally, depending upon the nature of your company, you may include additional sections as they pertain to the individual situation. Additional sections may include Products, Services, Distribution, Suppliers, Customers, or any variety of specialized sections that apply to your situation.

In short, keep the writing in your business plan clear and appropriate to your audience. Keep the tone positive but not unrealistically optimistic. Do not be overly verbose, but provide a wealth of information in a concise format.

How To Plan Your Business The Right Way

Would you ever think of taking a trip to a foreign location without some type of tourist guide or map? Could you imagine doing this and then the feeling of suddenly realizing that you have no idea where you are or what to do? I would imagine that would be a terrifying experience. Fortunately people take trips like this all of the time and these types of experiences are averted through proper planning. Operating a business without a business plan is like taking a trip without a map. You do not want to dedicate precious time to building a business only to suddenly realize that you have no idea where you are or what to do.

We often see entrepreneurs who are working so much on the day-to-day tasks of building the business that they do not take the time to properly plan. Usually the business owner did not take the time to properly plan for the future. This is one of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make. In this article I will outline 5 reasons an entrepreneur needs a business plan to keep their business on the right track.

Provide a Roadmap

A business plan provides a guideline to help you achieve your goals. Mapping out a plan helps you in determining which strategic path you will use to reach your desired destination. The research and brainstorming conducted during the writing of the plan will assist you in figuring out where the business should go while providing a complete set of instructions to help you get there. The primary goal of a business plan is to provide a roadmap that ensures your business is heading in the right direction and stays on course.

As a Motivational Tool

Business plans are very important for internal motivation and the motivation of stakeholders. While writing your plan the first step you should take is to identify the correct business plan template needed. Secondly, you must determine your vision, or where you want to see your business in the next 1-3-5-10 years. Creating this vision becomes a motivational tool because it allows you to see the possibilities you can create for your business if you follow the plan.

Identify Strategic Integration

A comprehensive business plan assists the entrepreneur in making a cohesive strategy that brings into account all the elements of the strategic business plan, and identifies how they associate with each other. Looking at the business in this way promotes the elimination of components of the plan that do not correlate with the greater vision. The plan helps you to identify how you can build your company over time. For example if you have an existing business you might try to expand the business through your existing clients. Your strategies might evolve around deepening your client relationships through customer relationship management. A system for reaching out to clients could help move the company forward.

Increase Creativity

Strategic business plans can help to increase the creativity associated with the business. Without creativity, your company is only one of the many competing for market share in your field, area, or industry. By using a creative approach you can design a business that sets itself apart in the marketplace with a distinctive look and brand. All too often, we see bland, boring marketing messages and products presented in uninspired ways. To succeed you must stand out in the crowd by getting creative and differentiating your business by identifying your competitive edge. A well-crafted business plan can help you do just that.

Define Desired Outcomes

In simple terms a business plan helps the entrepreneur get the job done. The business plan defines the desired outcomes and outlines the steps necessary to reach them. By performing the actions dictated in the business plan, the entrepreneur is able to stay on track. It is easy to get lost in the day-to-day details of the operation as pointed out before. By reviewing the plan periodically, the business owner is reminded to schedule time to do the strategic tasks outlined in the business plan. In short, taking focused and strategic action leads the entrepreneur to success.

It is very important that an entrepreneur sets a direction before moving forward. This can only be done through proper business planning. Below is an honest review of a company that can help you do just that. It may be the key to your success.

Make sure you set yourself up to be successful and do not find yourself in a strange land without a map. Develop a strategic business plan that will outline the growing success of your organization over time, and watch as your business succeeds beyond your wildest dreams.

Tips and Traps for Writing an Effective Business

Having an effective business plan is critical to the success of any business. That is why I want us to examine this text entitled “Tips & Traps for Writing an Effective Business Plan.” It is written by Greg Balanko-Dickson, a third-generation entrepreneur, Licensed Professional Business Coach and founding member of the Professional Business Coaches Alliance.

Balanko-Dickson has clients throughout Canada, the United States, South Africa and the United Kingdom. According to the author, whether you want to start a business or grow one, buy or sell one, attract investors or obtain a loan, fine-tune your operation or restructure it, attempting to do it without a well-crafted plan is like going to the sea without a compass. He says this text arms you with the know-how and tools you need to write your own surefire business plan in a record time.

Balanko-Dickson educates that to be successful in business, you need to research and write your plan; tailor a plan for virtually any type or size of business; master the 10 key components of a successful plan; understand all your financing options; and streamline the process using worksheets, sample forms and ready-to-use templates.

This text is divided into five parts of 27 chapters. Part one is generically christened “Introduction” and contains two chapters. Chapter one borders on what a business plan is and why you need it. According to Balanko-Dickson, it is an instrument used to document the intent and plans of the owner regarding every aspect of the business. He adds that the document itself can be used to communicate plans, strategies and tactics to your managers, partners and investors.

It is also used when you are applying for credit, educates the author, explaining that the plan contains both strategic and tactical objectives, and it can be either informal or formal.

He adds that a plan has an equation structure of Goals + Research+ Strategy. Balanko-Dickson says a goal only reveals your intent or where you expect to end up, but a formal plan details the exact formula you feel you need to put together to attain your primary goals.

He explains that his definition of a business plan is “a formal document written to capture and communicate the planned direction and manoeuvres required for the business to accomplish its most important goal – profitability”. Balanko-Dickson adds that profit is no accident, and by writing and following your plan, you increase the chances of achieving profitability.

Balanko-Dickson educates that developing a detailed plan will provide you with an opportunity to shape a powerful business development strategy, whether your goal is to: get financing to start; get financing to expand; be more organised and increase your odds of success; identify the value of your business and prepare a plan for selling; create a plan to buy a business; create a management succession plan to facilitate your retirement, etc.

The author identifies ten sections of a business plan as industry analysis; market analysis; products and services; business description; marketing strategy; operations and management; financial plan; implementation plan; contingency plan; and executive summary.

Chapter two is based on the subject matter of understanding the process and getting prepared. Here, Balanko-Dickson discloses that the benefits of writing a plan are often misunderstood. A plan will help you get the money you need when you are starting a business and will also help you make an existing one more effective, educates this author.

In part two having a general thematic focus of the ten sections of a plan and containing ten chapters, that is, chapters three to 12, Balanko-Dickson discusses concepts such as industry analysis; market analysis; products and services; business development; marketing and sales strategy; operations and management; pro forma financial plan; implementation plan; contingency and emergency plan; and executive summary.

Part three is based on writing a plan in 30 days and covers three chapters, that is, chapters 13 to 15. Chapter 13, like the whole part, focuses on writing a plan in 30 days. According to this expert here, make no mistake, writing a plan can be a time-consuming task as you are planning your business for the next three years, and you want to give it the attention it deserves. He says his personal experience in writing plans is that it can take him between 50 and 300 hours to finish.

Balanko-Dickson expatiates that the more familiar he is with the industry and market, the faster he can get the plan finished. He adds that if you are writing a plan for the first time, have never been in business before, or are new to the industry, plan to spend more time writing your plan.

He says you can easily minimise distractions in writing your plan by devoting time to writing your plan. The author stresses that if you are unable to get away from the business, choose a quiet period of the day to work on your plan. In chapters 14 and 15, this author discusses common mistakes in writing a plan and working with professional advisers.

Part four is based on the broad subject matter of special considerations for specific businesses and covers ten chapters, that is, chapters 16 to 25. Here, Balanko-Dickson beams his intellectual searchlight on concepts such as business planning for investors; planning for a retail business; planning for a manufacturing business; planning for wholesale distributors; planning for a service business; planning for consultants and professionals; planning for large and public companies, etc.

Part five, the last part, is generically labelled “Getting the money you need” and contains two chapters, that is, chapters 26 and 27. Chapter 26 is based on applying for a loan. According to Balanko-Dickson here, small business loans can be used for a variety of purposes. He says for example, a loan can help you buy a business, start a new one and expand an existing one. The author educates that you will deal directly with the bank’s loan officers.

“Make no mistake however, major small business loans are reviewed by loan committees. Typically, loan officers are not part of a loan committee….Understanding your role and the role of the loan officer and the loan committee will help guide you through the approval process. It is a team game, and, as they say, there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’,” asserts Balanko-Dickson.
In chapter 27, this expert discusses the concept of getting funding from investors, family and friends.

Stylistically, the language of this text is simple, yet standard. The presentation is unique. The text is embroidered with graphics to reinforce readers’ understanding and achieve visual amplification. Balanko-Dickson includes a “Tip and Trap” section typified by graphical thumb/hand manipulation in every chapter, where he injects additional information and guides readers.

However, the whole of part three is already summarised in chapter one, meaning that chapter one could have been harmonised with part three. Probably this author deliberately uses this style of repetition to ensure long memory on readers’ part.

On the whole, this text easily passes for a masterpiece on business development. It is highly recommended to all existing and prospective entrepreneurs. It is simply fantastic.

Develop Your Business Plan

bs2A business plan defines your whole business strategy, where to start with and where your business will lead you in future? To create a business plan you must know the details about the business you are going to start.

Why a Business Plan is required?

Before starting a business everyone needs to know where your company will stand in next 10 or 15 years that depends on you for how long you can carry on your business plan. After collecting all the necessary information regarding your business you have to assemble that in order which results in a proper business plan. The essence of your business plan is based on:

  • Goals: Define your goals properly and strategy to achieve them.
  • Problem & Solutions: What you are going to do in any sort of crisis? How you can handle it?
  • Financial Issues: How much finance you have? And how long you can survive with it? How are you going to manage you business profit and loss?

Business Plan Duration:

While writing a business plan you should keep that in mind, how long your business plan can survive? For that you have to do market research about the business you are going to start, it pros and cons. The success of your business can tell you how long your strategy will work?

Flexibility:

Your business plan must be flexible, if things doesn’t workout according to the plan than what will be your next step? Most of the people got stuck in the situation where they don’t have enough flexibility in there business plan. So your business plan must be flexible enough so that you can make changes according to the twist and turn in the market.

Web hosting Business Plan:

If you are planning to start a web hosting business first you have to define your business plan. Your business plan must have consists of following elements:

Define your Business Strategy:

Most people got confuse in the beginning that where to start off. If you are starting a web hosting business and you don’t have much idea about it started off with a small investment. Initially get a reseller web hosting plan. In reseller hosting plan you are allow to host websites as a third party. Certain amount of space is reserved on a server for reseller account and he has permission to rent it further on the behalf of his own company. A reseller can have a shared server or he can rent a dedicated server. Many known web hosting companies had started off as a reseller and now they are giants. So starting of as a reseller can turn out to be a huge company.

Market Analysis:

Before doing anything one should analyze the conditions or situations. So as in the business you have to analyze your market place and how things work in web hosting business. While performing a market analysis you have to keep these things in mind, what are you offering? Where you have to start? Why you choose this business? And how you will compete? Market analysis will clarify your targeted clients and competitor so you can define your web hosting plans keeping market trends in mind.

What are you going to Offer?

First you have to decide what sort of web hosting plans you can offer? There are many cheap web hosting companies offering cheap web hosting plans. What is your uniqueness? A Reseller can provide any type of hosting plan depending on what sort of account he is using himself? As a reseller host you can offer shared web hosting, Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting plan and dedicated server hosting plan. Also you can define your own price and packages. To beat your competitors you can define many discount packages. Attract them with cheap offers or provide some additional services.

Marketing strategy:

Marketing is another important aspect of a business especially when you are new. Let the others know you are here. You have to promote your web hosting business, for that you can use ads, social media, affiliate marketing and other online resources. Marketing strategy must be defined clearly keep in mind your targeted clients and other related companies. A healthy marketing can boost up your business so your marketing campaign must offer attractive web hosting plans.

Financial Plan:

Most important aspect of any business is “finance.” What you going to invest in the business? How much financial resources you have? And how long you can survive with any output from your business? Market survey will help you to decide how much investment is required to set up web hosting business? Keeping in mind all the available financial resource you can define your business scale, whether you are going to start your business at small or large scale.

As if you are starting as a reseller host you don’t require much investment. In financial plan you have to keep record if incoming and outgoing cash so you can keep an eye on what you are earning? And how you have to spend it? Keeping in mind all these factors you can develop an efficient financial plan.

Operations and Management:

As in the beginning you are starting as a reseller host so you don’t have to worry about many operations. You hosting company will take care of your hardware maintenance and other complicated issues. Also they will provide you 24/7 customer support. In future when you move on to the bigger level, you will require more space and manpower to perform these operations. Depending on the growth of your business you have to define your needs in term of hardware, software and resources to maintain all this setup. List down all the operations you have to perform and how many people are required to perform these operations. In web hosting business you have to maintain your many different client accounts including there web hosting plan and services they are getting.