Making a plan for your life that keeps you on track and moving forward is one of the best things you can do to keep from getting lulled into complacency.
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When you know where you want to go and create a solid path for getting there, the result is a fuller and more gratifying life that destroys the complacency demons we all battle. I show you how to make a complete plan for all the important areas of your life, such as:. This awesome series leads you through each step to make an easy to follow life plan you can use to make your life tremendously more fulfilling than it ever could have been otherwise!
Don't worry, I'll lead you through every step, showing you how to create a solid, customized plan of your own. It's kind of like having a GPS for your life. When you know where you're going, you spend less time wandering and wondering if you'll ever get to your destination…. However, as with the personal evaluation step, take your time to get to know the pros and cons of different business entities. If at all possible, work with an attorney to iron out the details.
This is not an area you want to get wrong. You will also need to get the proper business licenses and permits. Depending upon the business, there may be city, county, or state regulations as well. This is also the time to check into insurance and to find a good accountant. Spend some time getting to know the pros and cons of each business formation.
A corporation becomes a separate entity that is legally responsible for the business. If something goes wrong, you are less likely to be held personally liable.
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Other things you will need to do include deciding on a business name and researching availability for that name. There is no other route to success. If you will be seeking outside financing, a business plan is a necessity. But, even if you are going to finance the venture yourself, a business plan will help you figure out how much money you will need to get started, what it will take to make your business profitable, what needs to get done when, and where you are headed.
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In the simplest terms, a business plan is a roadmap—something you will use to help you chart your progress and that will outline the things you need to do in order to reach your goals. Even if you do not think you need a formal business plan, you should go through the planning process anyway. The process will help to uncover any holes or areas you have not thought through well enough. If you do need to write a formal business plan document, you should follow the outline below.
If you would like detailed information on how to write a business plan to present to banks or funders, there are plenty of online resources, including our own comprehensive guide. You will also find hundreds of sample plans for specific industries on this very website.
1. Take a stand for yourself.
Use them at your leisure but be prepared to adapt them to suit your precise needs. No two businesses are the same! As your business grows you can flesh out the sections as you see fit. In contrast to the standard plan and the startup plan, is the operations or annual plan. This type of plan is used for internal purposes and primarily reflects the needs of the members of the company. This type of plan is not intended for banks and outside investors. But, most small businesses begin with a loan , financing from credit cards, help from friends and family, and so on.
Note: A beautifully fleshed-out business plan does not guarantee you will get funded. In fact, according to Guy Kawasaki, the business plan is one of the least influential factors when it comes to raising money. But if your business needs a dedicated brick and mortar location, there are many considerations. Finding a location. Negotiating leases. Buying inventory.
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Getting the phones installed. Having stationery printed. Hiring staff.
Setting your prices. Throwing a grand opening party.
Think through each of these steps carefully. Your business location will dictate the type of customer you attract, what types of promotions you can run, and how long it will take you to grow. Your marketing will set the stage for the future of your store. It will set expectations, generate hype if done well , bring business in from day one and ensure that people know where you are and what they can expect from you. Consider the areas you want well lit; how you will display products if necessary ; what various colors will make people feel, and how people will move through your store.
There are reams of literature on why we buy what we do, all of it fascinating and much of it informative.
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Begin thinking about how you shop—this will get you to think more critically about your own store. Your choice of products and how you decide to price them will create a reputation. Rather than stock everything of a similar price range from one or two catalogs, consider only choosing those items that will create the feel you want to become known for.
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A plan does not need to be more than one page. As you write down your goals, strategies and action steps, your business becomes real. Before you spend money, find out if people will actually buy your products or services. This may be the most important thing you do. You can do this by validating your market.
In other words, who, exactly, will buy your products or services other than your family or friends? And don't say.
What is the size of your target market? Who are your customers? Is your product or service relevant to their everyday life? Why do they need it? There is industry research available that you can uncover for free. Read industry articles with data Google the relevant industry associations and read Census data to learn more. As an entrepreneur, your personal life and business life are interconnected.
You are likely to be your first -- and possibly only -- investor. Therefore, having a detailed understanding of your personal finances, and the ability to track them, is an essential first step before seeking outside funding for your business. This is why I recommend setting up your personal accounts in a money management system such as Mint.
Depending on where you fall on the continuum, you will need a different amount of money to launch and grow your business, and it does matter what kind of money you accept. You've made the internal commitment to your business. Now you need to cultivate a network of supporters, advisors, partners, allies and vendors. Network locally, nationally and via social networks. Here are some networking basics:. Even though we purchase products and services every day, people don't want to be "sold. The more people you serve, the more money you will make. When considering your customers or clients, ask yourself:.
This approach can help lead you to new ways to hone your product or service and deliver more value, which your customers will appreciate. Be willing to say who you are and what you do with conviction and without apology. Embrace and use the most effective online tools Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn available to broadcast your news. Use social networks as "pointer" sites; i.