Are Business Plans Vital to your success?

by RNMKR
30 replies
Hey Warriors,

Would you say a business plan is a necessity?

I am starting my first online company and I feel that a business plan would keep focus on all my business goals in an organized manner.

Do you know where I could find good tools to form my first biz plan?
Templates, software, etc?

All responses are appreciated!

-Jae

Also my company is web hosting (attempting to bring something new to the game )
#business #plans #success #vital
  • Profile picture of the author thedanbrown
    This site should answer most of your questions:
    Writing a business plan

    I've written a full business plan before to apply for a grant from the government and I can tell you it's a lot of work and is constantly needing updates...

    If you want to start a web hosting company you should look into writing out certain sections of the business plan such as how the business model works, how many people you will need to manage the company, and other relevant topics... but for your purpose I don't think you need to create financial projections or an executive summary or anything like that. You just need the meat and potatoes of it for yourself to keep focused.
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  • Profile picture of the author AlexanderBeloev
    Originally Posted by JTDodger View Post

    Hey Warriors,

    Would you say a business plan is a necessity?

    I am starting my first online company and I feel that a business plan would keep focus on all my business goals in an organized manner.

    Do you know where I could find good tools to form my first biz plan?
    Templates, software, etc?

    All responses are appreciated!

    -Jae

    Also my company is web hosting (attempting to bring something new to the game )
    Hey Jae,

    Plans are a vital part of our life, not only business, but a personal plan too.

    If you want to move forward you will need to know where you want to be in the future.

    Everyone wants to be successful, but only few people understand that success means achieving goals, success means taking small steps, success isn't a dream, success is this time, when you make the dreams become reality.

    The only way to be successful, a.k.a move forward and achieve your goals is thru planning.

    I am not a big fan of those big shiny planning software that cost more than a car. You can simply use Excel and if you are good at it, you can calculate and do everything you need. If not, YOUTUBE exists!
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    • Profile picture of the author Jonathan Joseph
      Good suggestions Alexander!

      Originally Posted by AlexanderBeloev View Post

      Hey Jae,

      Plans are a vital part of our life, not only business, but a personal plan too.

      If you want to move forward you will need to know where you want to be in the future.

      Everyone wants to be successful, but only few people understand that success means achieving goals, success means taking small steps, success isn't a dream, success is this time, when you make the dreams become reality.

      The only way to be successful, a.k.a move forward and achieve your goals is thru planning.

      I am not a big fan of those big shiny planning software that cost more than a car. You can simply use Excel and if you are good at it, you can calculate and do everything you need. If not, YOUTUBE exists!
      Signature

      Jon

      "Success comes when people act together; failure tends to happen alone." -- Deepak Chopra

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  • Profile picture of the author thecedi
    Originally Posted by JTDodger View Post

    Hey Warriors,

    Would you say a business plan is a necessity?

    I am starting my first online company and I feel that a business plan would keep focus on all my business goals in an organized manner.

    Do you know where I could find good tools to form my first biz plan?
    Templates, software, etc?

    All responses are appreciated!

    -Jae

    Also my company is web hosting (attempting to bring something new to the game )
    I will recommed you use Business-in-a-box Application. it is available for both purchase and demo download. The only thing about the demo is that you cannot copy and paste but if you have much time on your site and you are serious about getting something done, then you can recopy the content down
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    • Profile picture of the author JacobS
      Honestly, your "business plan" is going to change *so much* once you get started and you begin receiving feedback from customers.

      I would suggest watching these course lectures at udacity.com: How To Build a Startup. Everything that they talk about is pretty useful, in my experience.
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  • Profile picture of the author businessmanic
    There are many tools on the internet to format a business plan. I guess everyone will agree that a plan is vital before doing anything! Lol!
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  • Goals/Plans/ Or whatever you want to call them are very vital to success in this business. Atleast that is my opinion, this may be a bit subjective, but settting goals and making business plans have definitely helped me out A LOT.
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  • Profile picture of the author butters
    Oh for sure! Without a plan you don't know where your heading, you can not structure your day, they are imperative (For me) to my work online.
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  • Profile picture of the author ronrule
    Originally Posted by JTDodger View Post

    Hey Warriors,

    Would you say a business plan is a necessity?
    Yes - and to add to that, you need more than just the executive summary. You should write you plan as if you were planning on pitching it to investors, even if you aren't. That means a full scope, market analysis, revenue projections, etc. It's worth putting the time in.

    Even if you're never going to look for funding, and never planning on hiring anyone else, write your plan up with a long-term mindset, approaching it under the following scenario: What if people thought it was cool and it became bigger than you ever expected? What would you need resource-wise in order to handle it - personnel, technology, office space, etc. Incorporate all of those things. It will help you stay focused on a long-term goal and determine how scalable your business is.

    In reality, some businesses will crash and burn if they grow, especially web businesses. This will help you get your pricing in order. I knew a guy once who had a great low-cost hosted web product, grew to about 1,000 users within the first few months, and encountered a major problem: at his price point, he couldn't afford to scale the back-end to meet the demands of the user-base. What seemed like a great residual income crashed and burned because he was too under-priced to afford to service the clients. He had no business plan... if he had, he'd have figured that out before he spent the first dollar and would have known where to price his product. So be realistic, and think "If this EXPLODED what would I need" ... what size office, reasonable wages for staff, technology costs, work it all in. Do this part in a spreadsheet where you can play with the numbers and adjust for 1,000 customers, 10,000 customers, etc. and make sure the numbers still make sense in all columns.
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    I think a business plan is vital. You're virtually laying out all of the steps needed to build your business up in the right way. Follow a well written plan out and follow it everyday, and you'll see the results that you've been looking for.
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  • I think it's so helpful to have business plan since it GIVES you focus on the bare essentials of your business and the grand scheme of things a.k.a. the BIG PICTURE so you can identify which things are trivial so you can let them go.
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  • Profile picture of the author kdorothea
    Even though your business plan will constantly change, as your business evolves, I believe it's incredibly useful to have one and use it as a guideline. When starting a business you need to know where you are, where you are heading and whether or not your will be able to cover all expenses in the beginning. Starting a business without a plan is like walking blindfolded on the street and expecting to accidentally reach your destination.
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  • Profile picture of the author Apra Barua
    Originally Posted by JTDodger View Post

    Do you know where I could find good tools to form my first biz plan?
    Templates, software, etc?
    FreeMind is a great tool to keep your ideas and plans organized. You may want to try it. It's free...
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  • Profile picture of the author Avy Smith
    A business plan based on targeted market and customers can be very useful for planning about anything. The relevance matters a great deal.
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  • Profile picture of the author Susan Richards
    Originally Posted by JTDodger View Post

    Hey Warriors,

    Would you say a business plan is a necessity?

    I am starting my first online company and I feel that a business plan would keep focus on all my business goals in an organized manner.

    Do you know where I could find good tools to form my first biz plan?
    Templates, software, etc?

    All responses are appreciated!

    -Jae

    Also my company is web hosting (attempting to bring something new to the game )
    A business plan is a must because it shows you the steps that your business will undergo, the goal that your business has and all the stuff that is needed to achieve that certain goal...
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve B
    Originally Posted by JTDodger View Post

    Would you say a business plan is a necessity?
    Jae,

    If you're setting out on a long journey, and you've never been along that road before, and you don't know exactly how to find your destination, would it be important to have a precise map showing you the route?

    A map, a blueprint, a business plan . . . they're all there for the same purpose.

    And in my opinion, an even better approach would be to take someone with you on your journey that had been there before (hint: mentor, coach).

    The plan doesn't have to be complex, lengthy, or written to impress anyone. It must only be your guide on how you're going to get from where you are to where you want to be.

    Yes, there will be obstacles in the road, detours to take, and alternate routes . . . but . . . it's the best alternative to implement when compared to 90% of all the small businesses that have no plan.

    Good luck to you.

    Steve
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    Steve Browne, online business strategies, tips, guidance, and resources
    SteveBrowneDirect

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    • Profile picture of the author DeePower
      If you lived in New York City and decided to drive to Los Angeles, would you just jump in your car and start driving -- no road map, no GPS, not a full tank of gas, no money, no clothes packed? Of course not. And yet that's what many people do when they decide to start a business, just jump in and go. If you wouldn't start a cross-country trip without the important things you need to reach your destination, why would you attempt to run your business without a business plan?

      The process of writing a business plan is really the process of building your business. As you develop the plan you:

      Define your market - who are your customers?

      Prepare a battle plan against your competitors - what does your company have they don't?

      Develop hard hitting marketing strategies - your customers are out there, how will you reach them?

      A business plan leads you to develop strategies and action plans.

      In your plan you'll answer these questions.

      What problem does the customer have?
      How does the product solve the problem?
      How big is the market?
      How will the market be reached
      Who are the competitors?
      What's the unique selling proposition of the product?
      How will the company make money
      What's the growth potential of the company?

      A business plan doesn't have to be a 50 page document filled with MBA buzz words. Think of it as an operating manual.

      Dee

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      • Profile picture of the author DeePower
        Here are the major sections that should be included in a business plan:

        EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
        HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
        ECONOMIC AND INDUSTRY ENVIRONMENT
        PROFILE OF THE BUSINESS
        Business Model
        The Product
        The Market
        Competitive Environment
        Marketing Strategies
        Management, Operations, Production, and Facilities
        Current Ownership
        Strengths, Weaknesses, Risks, and Opportunities

        FINANCIAL SECTION
        Revenue Assumptions
        Expense Assumptions
        Three years forecasted Profit and Loss Statement
        APPENDIX

        Dee
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        • Profile picture of the author DeePower
          Answer These 20 Questions in Your Business Plan

          You've struggled, written, rewritten, forecast and reforecast. You think your business plan is finally finished. But is it? Make certain you have answered all these questions in your business plan.

          Why did you decide to enter this business? What was attractive about The opportunity?
          What market need did you see that you wanted to exploit?

          What have you accomplished so far? What stage of development is your company at right now? What milestones have you reached?

          What kind of company do you want to build? What brand image are you seeking to establish?

          What is the long range objective? For example, "To build revenues to $50 million within 5 years."

          What are your products/services? Can you explain the technology involved? When will they be ready for introduction? What benefits do your products/services provide that are clearly superior to the competition?

          What are the proprietary aspects of your products/services? What is your sustainable competitive advantage?

          What is the size of your market? How is the market changing and evolving? What is the driving force behind market growth?

          Who are your competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses?

          How do you think the competitive environment will change in the next 3-5 years?

          What are the barriers to entry in your industry?

          Who will your targeted customers be?

          How are you going to reach those markets? Specifically, how will you distribute and promote the products/services? How much will it cost to reach these markets?

          Who are the key individuals in your management team and what have they accomplished in their careers? Who owns the company today?

          What prior experience does the management team have that will lead to success in this venture?

          How will the product be manufactured? What type of facilities and equipment do you need? Where will your office(s) be located?

          What risk factors could keep you from achieving your forecast results?

          How much capital do you need and what will it be used for?

          What exit strategies are available to you and your financial partners?

          What is the company's financial history? What are the projected revenues, expenses and profits?


          Dee
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  • Profile picture of the author aarthielumalai
    Originally Posted by JTDodger View Post

    Hey Warriors,

    Would you say a business plan is a necessity?

    I am starting my first online company and I feel that a business plan would keep focus on all my business goals in an organized manner.

    Do you know where I could find good tools to form my first biz plan?
    Templates, software, etc?

    All responses are appreciated!

    -Jae

    Also my company is web hosting (attempting to bring something new to the game )
    For me, a business plan is an absolute must. I need to have everything written down (or typed) and create a proper action plan with income goals before I can start anything.

    I get confused do half-assed things if I don't do things that way. Once I create an action plan, I create weekly and daily to-do lists and use "the action machine" to do that day's work. It lets me set a timer for each task and that greatly helps me focus on what I'm doing then.

    I don't use any tools other than the action machine. I write down my to-do lists on a paper and an excel sheet. I have a colored system on my excel sheet to know which ones should have priority and so on.

    I create a business plan on a word document and I have a hard copy of the same.

    That's it.
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  • Profile picture of the author brutecky
    Originally Posted by JTDodger View Post

    Would you say a business plan is a necessity?
    Would you drive cross country without a map? (no comments about GPS please)
    Would you go on a 10 mile hike in the woods without a compass? (off trail hike)
    Would you bake a cake without a recipe? (even if its just one from memory)

    Why would you plan for all of these things but not for your business? Just the concept is insane.
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  • Profile picture of the author Yaros
    “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

    “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

    “I don’t much care where–” said Alice.

    “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

    I think this scene shows well the problem of not having a goal and plan for your business.
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  • Profile picture of the author tiroberts
    I don't necessarily believe that a FULL business plan is necessary, like one of those thick book type plans. But I do believe that some type of road map is required.

    What I like to do is make "action lists" (my new word for checklists). At the beginning of each weak I make an action list for each day of the week, specifying the specific tasks I need to take action on and complete daily.

    I couldn't do without my action lists because it gives me an unbelievable since of productivity and I know that I'm taking the right actions to propel me towards my goals. I try to make sure that I don't go to sleep without completing every action on my list and so far I've been successful at that.

    Maybe you should try this. Not to say that you don't need a general business plan; create one if you feel like you need it. But also have a daily action lists that you can implement so you know your taking consistent, specific steps towards your overall goals.

    Good luck!

    Ti
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonwebb
    is a 100 page diagraming the in and outs of your business vital to your success?? No.

    do you need to know how you will keep track of your books, how you will fulfill orders, and how you will generate leads? Yes you do.

    - Jonathan Webb
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  • Profile picture of the author amcg
    Hey Warriors,

    Would you say a business plan is a necessity?
    No. But would it benefit you and your business? Yes. If you have time and the skills to write one, I'd do it. You know it's going to change right but it's important more than anything else to get your thoughts on the direction of your venture down on paper. (or word)
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  • Profile picture of the author Rod Cortez
    Originally Posted by JTDodger View Post

    Hey Warriors,

    Would you say a business plan is a necessity?

    I am starting my first online company and I feel that a business plan would keep focus on all my business goals in an organized manner.

    Do you know where I could find good tools to form my first biz plan?
    Templates, software, etc?

    All responses are appreciated!

    -Jae

    Also my company is web hosting (attempting to bring something new to the game )
    Is it vital to someone's success? Absolutely YES. Have some marketers succeeded without one? YES.

    Though, how many failures would have had success if they had some kind of business plan (a business plan that includes thorough market research, by the way)? I would say far more than those that have succeeded without one. You can see examples of this every single day on this forum.

    As someone who has funded other people's ideas I'm a huge advocate for having some kind of business plan, even if you're not looking for funding.

    Every single day on this forum I see people asking the wrong questions. I'm talking about questions like:

    "If you had $10,000 how would you invest it?"
    "Should I use article syndication or list building?"
    "Do I need a squeeze page?"
    "SEO vs. article syndication vs PPC?"
    "How long will it take me to make 1,000 per month?"
    "(Insert name of product here).... will it make me money?"

    I've worked with a lot of marketers, both in this forum and off, and one of the biggest mistakes they make is that they do adequate market research, which goes under the umbrella of having a business plan.

    All business plans are not created equal. Jonathan Webb is correct that most IMers don't need a detailed, 100 page business plan with graphs and charts, in order to succeed.

    I've seen some great one to two-page business outlines over the years for people who wanted to get into affiliate marketing, create their own product line, provide their own service, create their own software, etc.

    What's vital are: market research and knowing your statistics.

    I see people dive into markets and niches all the time without ever researching their competition, without ever finding out who their primary demographics are, which distribution channels are used to reach their audience, how to monetize the market, where the advertising dollars are, the psychology behind the buying mechanisms for that market or niche, etc.

    So in a nutshell, yes, a business plan is vital to a business's success, when it's implemented correctly.

    RoD
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    "Your personal philosophy is the greatest determining factor in how your life works out."
    - Jim Rohn
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  • Profile picture of the author robbiestone
    A total Yes to needing a business plan, especially if you are selling physical products.

    I posted about this on my blog but basically, I went on EBay back in 2007 without a business plan. Without one, you can easily lose track of what fee's from EBay and Paypal you are going to pay, so no idea on what profit and loss you have.. until it is to late.

    Online businesses are no different to setting up in the high street when it comes to planning, so definatly make sure you have one. If not just for peace of mind and a sense of direction.

    Good luck with your venture
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  • Profile picture of the author frettcarla
    If you are starting your business then I would recommend you to go for some free tools initially. Later stage you can have more advanced tools to run your business.

    When I started my business at the very initial stage I implemented online tools which leads to a pretty good quantity of loss. So I always suggest new start ups to go for free tools like Google tasks, calender to well organize and plan the business. After having a stand out in the market then you can jump onto paid tools which are web based. Currently I am using Replicon's services for my business. You can also go for the same but only on later stage. Here is the URL for your reference:- http://www.replicon.com/
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