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How to Start a Business: A Step-by-Step Guide

1. Refine your idea

❶SM Sandisiwe Magoshane May

2. Write a business plan




Purchase an insurance policy 7. Build your team 8. Choose your vendors 9. Brand yourself and advertise The concept, brand following and business model are already in place; all you need is a good location and the means to fund your operation.

Now that you have your idea in place, you need to ask yourself a few important questions: What is the purpose of your business? Who are you selling to? What are your end goals? How will you finance your startup costs?

These questions can be answered in a well-written business plan. A lot of mistakes are made by new businesses rushing into things without pondering these aspects of the business. You need to find your target customer base. Who is going to buy your product or service? Conducting thorough market research on your field and demographics of potential clientele is an important part of crafting a business plan. This involves conducting surveys, holding focus groups and researching SEO and public data.

A guide to conducting market research can be found on our sister site Business. A business plan helps you figure out where your company is going, how it will overcome any potential difficulties and what you need to sustain it. Do you have the means to fund your startup, or will you need to borrow money? Experts generally agree that startup businesses often fail because they run out of money too quickly before turning a profit. Best Alternative Small Business Loans ].

Startups requiring a lot more funding up front may want to consider an investor. Investors usually provide several million dollars or more to a fledgling company, with the expectation that the backers will have a hands-on role in running your business. Looking for information on business loans? Fill in the questionnaire below, and you will be contacted by lenders ready to discuss your loan needs.

Before you can register your company, you need to decide what kind of entity it is. Your business structure legally affects everything from how you file your taxes to your personal liability if something goes wrong. Be warned that this route can directly affect your personal credit. This makes a business a separate entity apart from its owners, and therefore, corporations can own property, assume liability, pay taxes, enter into contracts, sue and be sued like any other individual.

This hybrid structure has the legal protections of a corporation while allowing for the tax benefits of a partnership. To become an officially recognized business entity, you must register with the government. Finally, conclude your business plan with a section on your marketing strategy and also a funding request for potential investors. Lewis on January 26, Determine the type of business plan you will use.

While all business plans share the common objective of describing a businesses purpose and structure, analyzing the marketplace, and creating cash flow projections, the types of plans differ. There are three major kinds. This is a shorter plan likely 10 pages or less , and is useful for determining potential interest in your business, further exploring a concept, or starting point to a full plan.

This is a great starting point. This can be considered the full version of the miniplan, and its main purpose is to outline, without emphasis on appearance, precisely how to build and operate the business.

This is the plan that the business owner would refer to regularly as the business moves towards its objectives. The presentation plan is meant for individuals other than those owning and operating the business. This could include potential investors or bankers. It is essentially the working plan, but with an emphasis on sleek, marketable presentation, and proper business language and terminology.

Whereas the working plan is made for reference by the owner, the presentation needs to be written with investors, bankers, and the public in mind. Understand the basic structure of the business plan. Whether you opt for a miniplan, or a comprehensive working plan to start, it is essential to understand the basic elements of a business plan. The business concept is the first broad element of a business plan.

The focus here is on the description of your business, its market, its products, and its organizational structure and management. The market analysis is the second major element of a business plan. Your business will operate within a particular marketplace, and it is important to understand customer demographics, preferences, needs, buying behavior, as well as the competition.

The financial analysis is the third component of the business plan. If your business is new, this will include projected cash flows, capital expenditures, and the balance sheet. It will also include forecasts as to when the business will break-even.

If you lack business or financial education, it is never a bad idea to enlist the help of an accountant to assist with the financial analysis portion of the plan. The above sections are the broad components of the business plan.

These sections in turn break down into the following seven sections, which we will, in order, focus on writing next: Company description, market analysis, organization structure and management, products and services, marketing and sales, and request for funding. Format your document correctly. Format section titles in Roman Numeral order. Write your company description as the first section.

To do this, describe your business and identify the marketplace needs for your product or service. Briefly describe your key customers and how you intend to succeed. Write your market analysis. The purpose of this section is explore and demonstrate knowledge of the market your business is operating within. You should be able to answer questions like, who is your target market?

What are their needs and preferences? How old are they, and where are they located? Make sure to include a competitive analysis that provides research and information on immediate competitors. List your main competitors strengths and weaknesses and the potential impact on your business. This section of the business plan focuses on key personnel. Include details about the business owners and its management team.

If the owners and managers and have extensive backgrounds in the industry or a track record of success, highlight it. If you have an organizational chart, include it. Describe your product or service. What are you selling? How will customers benefit? How is it better than your competitors products or services?

Do you currently have or anticipate developing a prototype, or filing for a patent or copyright? Note all planned activities. For example, if you are writing a plan for a coffee shop, you would include a detailed menu that would outline all your products. Before writing the menu, you would include a short summary indicating why your particular menu sets your business apart from others. Our wide variety will be a key competitive advantage as we can provide a diversity of product offerings that our main competitors are currently not offering".

Write your marketing and sales strategy. In this section, explain how you intend to penetrate the market, manage growth, communicate with customers, and distribute your products or services. Will you use sales representatives, billboard advertising, pamphlet distribution, social media marketing, or all of the above?

Make a funding request. If you will use your business plan to secure funding, include a funding request. Explain how much money you need to start and maintain your small business. Provide an itemized summary of how start-up capital will be used. Give a timeline for your funding request. To accurately complete this step, in some cases it might be necessary to hire an accountant, lawyer, or other professional. For one full year, provide monthly and quarterly statements. Each year after that, yearly statements.

These documents will be placed in the Appendix Section of your business plan. Include projected cash flows for at least 6 years or until stable growth rates are achieved and if possible, a valuation calculation based on discounted cash flows.

Write the executive summary. Your executive summary will serve as an introduction to your business plan. Remember to place this section at the beginning of your document.

When was the business first conceptualized? What are some notable growth benchmarks? Start-ups will focus more on industry analysis and their funding goal. Existing businesses and start-ups should highlight any major achievements, contracts, current or potential clients and summarize future plans. Potential investors might want to see this information before making a decision. The documents you include here should support claims made in other sections of the business plan.

There should a section clearly outlining the risk factors affecting your venture and your mitigation plans. This also indicates to the reader how well prepared you are for contingencies. Review your business plan for spelling and grammatical errors.


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A business plan is a written description of your business's future, a document that tells what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. If you jot down a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you've written a plan, or at least the germ of a plan.

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This guide will explain why a business plan is a must-have, provide a shortcut to the business planning process, help you collect important background information, and get . Oct 23,  · The rest of this article will provide the specifics of what you should include in your business plan, what you should skip, the critical components of the all-important financial projections, and links to additional resources that can help jump-start your plan. Remember, your business plan is a tool to help you build a better business, not just a homework assignment/5().

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A number of apps simplify the often tedious, complicated process of crafting a thorough bank- and investor-ready business plan. You provide the information, they organize it into a plan, and hopefully soon you'll be in business. Here's a look at three apps that can help get your business plan rolling: 1. Enloop. Jul 11,  · How to Write a Business Plan for a Small Business. Three Parts: Preparing To Write Your Business Plan Writing Your Business Plan Finalizing Your Business Plan Community Q&A. A business plan refers to a written document that comprehensively outlines what your business is, where it is going, and how it will get there%().