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Planning Your Small Business

Success often depends on good quality planning because a plan helps turn the unknown into the expected. Unless you have prior expertise in developing successful business plans, especially for the type of business that you intend to start, you should consider enlisting professional help.

The issues that you should address in your business plan include:

  • what and how much you intend to sell, whether products or services.
  • how you will reach, win, and retain customers (marketing plan).
  • how you expect to set the prices that you will charge.
  • how you will make your products or render your services.
  • who your competitors are (competitive analysis) and how they are likely to react to your business.
  • what you expect your revenues and expenses will be (financial plan).
  • what you will need in terms of staff, buildings, equipment, and inventory.
  • how much credit (loans) you will need and how and when you expect to pay it back.
  • what government regulations and tax laws you must comply with.
  • how much of your time this business will require, and how long you can subsist on savings before the business earns enough for you.
  • possible obstacles and how you will deal with them.
  • what circumstances will constitute failure and what circumstances will constitute success.
  • your "exit plan" for leaving the business, to retire, pursue other interests, or because the business did not succeed as planned.

When seeking help with business plans, look for a professional who:

  • has experience in the industry or field that you are entering. Inevitably, you will face industry-specific issues that someone who has only a general knowledge of business cannot anticipate, never mind advise you about.
  • has a track record of helping to launch successful entrepreneurs. Get references and talk to them. See how satisfied they are.

You might also turn to someone who will be a part of your future back office. See our discussion on the back office for more information.

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