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How To Start And Run An Online Business

Article: 07. Why Even A Small Business Or Sole Proprietor Needs A Business Plan


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To start a sole proprietor home based business, especially if you are going to ease yourself into business while maintaining your day job you probably will not require a formal business plan. However, that is not to say you should not lay down a "plan" for your business. A sort of road map detailing how you will get from where you are starting to where you are going. How are you going to realize your goal?

This is where you take your business idea and shape it into a battle plan.  Formulating a business plan is goal-setting for your business. When I refer to a business plan, I don't mean a 100-page monstrosity filled with five-year projections. A freelancer's business plan needs to have three qualities. First, it has to be written. The act of writing down your plan will force you to think it through much more carefully than if you "keep it in your head." Second, it has to set clear, measurable objectives. After all, how will you know that you've succeeded if you don't define success before you begin? The old Supreme Court definition of obscenity, "I know it when I see it," just doesn't cut it. Finally, it has to say what you intend to do to achieve those objectives.

Even a one-sentence business plan like, "My objective is to complete 10 projects at an average price of $10,000 each by targeting local real estate agencies," makes a difference.

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Although it may seem like a waste of time and effort to complete a business plan if you don't intend to seek outside financing, taking the time and exercising the discipline needed to really focus your mind on the important issues facing your business, you will be forced to take a long hard look at your idea through very objective and realistic eyes.

If your idea passes the business plan test, then you can be reasonably confident that this is the right business for you. If you come away from this exercise feeling hesitant, uncertain and unsure, either do more research (if the reason for your hesitancy and uncertainty is lack of information) or discard the idea (if it's because you don't think your idea is going to fly).  If this happens, just keep repeating the earlier steps in this series of articles until you end up with an idea and a business plan that you're confident is going to work!

It’s not uncommon to work through part of at least three business plans before you find the business idea that will blossom into the thriving business you want to run.

Although it's frustrating to wait once you've made up your mind to start a business from home, this really is one situation where the tortoise wins the race.  By taking a methodical, systematic and disciplined approach to identifying the right home business for you, you give your business the best possible chance for long-term survival, hopefully avoiding some very expensive mistakes along the way.

Since you have identified your niche and once you have surveyed your market and competition and are reasonably confident you can be at least as good as your best competitor, it's time to get down to brass tacks.

Then once you've thought through and recorded your business plan you should have an extremely thorough understanding of your industry and the challenges you must overcome to make a success of your business.  Take your business plan and establish objectives, goals (which support attainment of the objectives) and tasks (which support attainment of the goals).

Put your tasks and goals into action to achieve your objectives.  Decide where you want your business to be in five years time and work backwards until you have 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 year objectives and goals to support them and tasks to support the goals.  The end result should be a daily to-do list of things that will directly lead you closer to the achievement of your goals and objectives.

So if you want to start a home business, ignore the home-business opportunity ads; there are no shortcuts to starting a successful home-based business. By following the process of outlining your business plan, you will end up with an idea for a home-based business that truly has the potential to succeed, bringing you the money and the satisfaction you’ve been dreaming of.

In my next article I will provide an example Business Plan Outline which will lead you through the process. The research and thinking that you do as you work through the business plan will do more than anything else to ensure that the home-based business you start succeeds.

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