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    15 Replies Latest reply on Dec 12, 2012 9:47 AM by Moderator Berta

    How to make a business plan?

    futureowner Newbie

      Hi,

      I am starting a new online clothing business selling clothes, shoes and accessories for both men and women. I have already received an FEIN, registered my business, and paid for a domain name but now it's time to create a business plan and I am now lost. I have been searching online and have came across some excellent templates but not sure where to start on my own.

       

      I was wondering if anyone could give me a little insight on were to start or whether I should just allow a professional to complete it.

      Thanks in advance

        • Re: How to make a business plan?
          Moderator Ilona Ranger

          I know that we have a lot of great posters on here that can probably answer this question for you. How about it, does anyone have any helpful tips to help out here?

           

          Ilona

          • Re: How to make a business plan?
            innomarkglobal Newbie

            I think it will be good for product sell online.

            • Re: How to make a business plan?
              OfficeGoddess Navigator

              The answer depends to a large degree on whether you need a formal business plan to assist in obtaining funding or an informal one for purely internal use.

               

              The elements of a business plan are listed at How to Write a Business Plan | SBA.gov.

               

              Because I did not require funding for my VA business, I simply wrote up an informal business plan in a 3-ring binder that is reviewed and changed on a regular basis, to fit my current and future plans.  A business plan doesn’t have to be a formal, fancy professional looking document.  It can simply be a notebook in which you track what you want for your business and how you’re going to ‘get there from here.’  The first step to building a useful business plan is to develop a mission statement – the “why of your business.”  What did you have in mind when you started out?   Be honest with yourself when developing the mission statement.  Nobody else ever has to see this; it’s for you.

               

              Next, you need to think about your vision for the future of your business.  Write down what you want your business to look/feel like when it is ‘successful.’  Decide where you want your business to be in three to five years – this is your vision.  Next, make a list of long-term (again, 3-5 years) goals that will help you achieve your vision.  Setting your long-term goals will help give you focus on what you are trying to accomplish with your business.

               

              Up to this point, you have created a business description, and figured out what you want and when you want it.  Now it’s time to focus on building the list of short term (monthly, quarterly, etc. up to a year) goals for your business.  Once you have your list of goals in place, start brain-storming about the steps needed to achieve these goals.   This could include developing a marketing strategy, a social networking plan, or any other process that will help you attain your goals.  Here is where you start figuring out where the money is coming from to cover your expenses.  Completing your short-term goals will also lead to implementing your long-term goals.

               

              Your ‘business plan’ needs to be flexible and changeable.  Re-visit your short-term goals, long-term goals, and vision frequently and be prepared to update, change or add on to any or all of them on a regular basis.

               

              Make sense?

               

              Lily Chambers

              The Virtual Office Goddess, LLC

              Author: How To Do Your Own Small Business Bookkeeping


               

              • Re: How to make a business plan?
                Jim Peters Tracker

                If you don’t have much idea on how to start on your own then I would suggest you to look at the websites of other businesses, there you would find what all should be there on a website doing online clothing business. Secondly, design your website in such a way that it suits the mood and feel of your clothes and the products that you plan to sell. After the website is ready, for the marketing part, you can post some blogs or articles relating to your business. I think this would help a lot.

                • Re: How to make a business plan?
                  LeslieVZ Adventurer

                  First of all, I want to point out that I think that business plans are very useful tools for making you think about all the steps you are going to take in your new venture.  They do have a purpose.

                   

                  But, they are time-consuming and cumbersome, and you will probably have to change many elements as you go along.  There is an even better tool: the business model canvas, as described by Alexander Osterwalder in his book Business Model Generation.  It has 9 sections that force you to consider each of the elements that will make up the revenue and the cost sides of your business.  You can fill it out in about 30 minutes of quiet reflection, and then go back and change things quickly as you learn more about what works and what doesn't.

                   

                  Read these links:Business Model Canvas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

                  Business Model Innovation Matters

                  • Re: How to make a business plan?
                    Moderator Berta Guide

                    Hi futureowner,

                     

                    Have you checked the sba.gov website yet? They have templates for business plans that you can use and customize to fit your business.

                     

                    ~Berta

                    • Re: How to make a business plan?
                      Colin Dawson Newbie

                      I agree that creating a business plan is integral to the progression and success of that business. Years ago, when I opened my catering business, I didn't have a clue on how to create or implement a business plan. So I did a little research for an online business planning tool that will guide me every step of the way. And thankfully, I came across a great online planning tool called PlanAnything. It is an online planning tool that guides you through every stage of a business plan, whilst providing you with guidance information, examples and other online resources that can help you. It made my business planning process ten times easier to complete and massively reduced the time it took to complete. I couldn't recommend it anymore, visit http://www.plananything.com and check it out for yourself, I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

                      • Re: How to make a business plan?
                        PayrollSquare Square Wayfarer

                        My cents:

                        1, who will read your business plan and think of on their chairs

                        2, you have to answer, why, how, who will handle this business. and your stone line with financial data.

                        Hope you are doing well.

                        • Re: How to make a business plan?
                          Moderator Ilona Ranger

                          Great tips and advice everyone, keep them coming.

                           

                          Ilona

                          • Re: How to make a business plan?
                            seohelp Adventurer

                            Okay so you're ready to get your online clothing business started. You need to lay out a plan of action. Assuming you do not have the money to start a business, you need to find out if you can qualify for a loan or get money from investors. In order to get a loan you will need to have a business plan to show them.

                            You may be wondering what is a business plan? When writing a business plan you want to think of questions that people might have about your own business. You will not find anyone that will give you a loan without having this information. You want your business plan to tell them that you have considered every aspect of the business and show them what you have come up with.

                             

                            Here is a list of what should be included in your business plan:

                             

                            - What service do you offer? This is the first thing you should include in your business plan. Are you going to be offering a service or will be selling products (clothes) that you will be purchasing from other companies.

                            - Who will your customers be? You need to include in your business plan who you are going to be doing your service for or are offering it to.

                            - You need to let them know whether or not you will be doing this in a local area or online (online clothing business).

                             

                            - What makes your offer unique? Let them know what the key factors are that make your business different from other businesses. What do you plan on doing differently to make sure your business is a success.

                            - What expenses will be incurred? You need to make a list of all of the things that you will need, supplies, products or anything else you will need to start. You will also need to include any daily expenses or staff costs.

                             

                            A good way to find out what you need to include in your business plan is to search online for business plans. You can find examples that will give you ideas to make sure that you have set yours up right.

                            Using as an example :http://www.businesstown.com/planning/creating-rainbow.asp

                             

                            Go online and do a search on Google or Yahoo for "sample business plan" and you will get some good ideas. Be sure to spend a good amount of time on your business plan before you even try to get a loan.

                             


                            • Re: How to make a business plan?
                              marketingexpert Scout

                              As a marketer, it's not clear to me why business plans are the way they are, but they're often misused to obfuscate, bore and show an ability to comply with expectations.

                               

                              For myself to make this process both exciting and fun,  I personally divide the business plan into five sections:

                               

                              • Truth
                              • Assertions
                              • Alternatives
                              • People
                              • Money

                               

                              The truth section describes the world as it is. This tells you and others about the market you are entering, the needs that already exist, the competitors in your space, technology standards, the way others have succeeded and failed in the past. The point of this section is to be sure that you're clear about the way you see the world, and that you and I agree on your assumptions.

                               

                              Truth can take as long as you need to tell it. It can include spreadsheets, market share analysis and anything I need to know about how the world works.

                               

                              The assertions section is your chance to describe how you're going to change things. We will do X, and then Y will happen. We will build Z with this much money in this much time. We will present Q to the market and the market will respond by taking this action.

                               

                              This is the heart of the modern business plan. The only reason to launch a business is to change something, and you want to know what you're going to do and what impact it's going to have.

                               

                              Of course, this section will be incorrect. You will make assertions that won't pan out. You'll miss budgets and deadlines and sales.

                               

                              So the alternatives section tells you what you'll do if that happens. How much flexibility does your product or team have? If your assertions don't pan out, is it over?

                               

                              The people section rightly highlights the key element... who is on your team, who is going to join your team. 'Who' doesn't mean their resume, who means their attitudes and abilities. This could be editors, journalist, website designer, graphics artist, and etc.

                               

                              And the last section is all about money. How much do you need, how will you spend it, what does cash flow look like, P&Ls, balance sheets, margins and exit strategies.

                              • Re: How to make a business plan?
                                Bob Lamp'l Newbie

                                I agree with Lily regarding her comments that when preparing a business plan, you need to understand how the business plan will be used. As a start-up business, your business plan will probably be used for two purposes:

                                • Internal use to serve as your "NAV System" to take you from where you are today (even if it is still in your head) to where you will be at specific dates in the future, detailing as many costs and revenue items as you are able to project along the way to the specified dates. This resulting budget should be entered into your accounting system in the corresponding budget fields so that you can then do management analysis of actual results compared to your projections (budget), to be used to make any "mid-course" corrections if needed.
                                • Your Business Plan may also be used for financing your business via a bank loan or investment funds in order to bring in the cash needed to actually cover the costs of the start-up, including the initial cash outlays to purchase equipment needed, rent and utility deposits needed as well as any working capital you will need to cover on-going operating expenses like rent, office supplies, utilities, salaries, etc. before your company breaks even, where your company makes enough profit to cover all of its operating expenses going forward.

                                A couple of big questions you need to ask yourself prior to deciding whether to do the business plan yourself or outsourcing it to a professional are:

                                • How knowledgeable are you in the business you are starting? Do you have a good knowledge in the business you are about to start, including:
                                  • the types of cost you probably will incur for "up-front" costs and operating costs
                                  • any seasonality involved in your business that will affect sales and expenses
                                  • how long will it take you from when you first open your doors to get up to what you expect to be your normal sales volume per month (ramp-up time)?
                                  • how will you price out your products / services as to selling price in and what will the anticipated costs be for your products / services? Figure this on what we call a "unit basis", meaning what will one unit of your product sell for and what will that one unit cost, and then, how many of these units do you expect to sell in each designated time period in the future (convert this number into units per month), allowing for ramp-up time, seasonality and possibly inflation.
                                • How knowledgeable are you on accounting? Most business owners are experts on their products / services, but often don't have any knowledge of accounting. Some softwares like Business Plan Pro are somewhat adequate in preparing the below reports, but are very limited on customizing them to best reflect your company. You will need to complete three major financial statements for a bank loan:
                                  • Profit & Loss Statement (P&L) - Easiest of the three to complete. Budget of revenues less expenses to equal net profits
                                  • Cash Flow statement, which takes what the P&L statement shows in profits/losses to what your bank account will show. Includes items not found on the P&L such as Accounts Receivables, Accounts Payables, Fixed Asset purchases, Depreciation, Loans, Secutity deposits, etc.
                                  • Balance Sheet - This report summarizes ALL of the major financial activity and status for a company and is probably the single most important financial document in your Business Plan. At a glance, for any time period, it displaysyour assets by category, your liabilities by category and your equity, net profit/loss and subsequent net worth of the company

                                 

                                I run into many start-up business owners that are very good at the above and do well to do their own business plan with the tools available to them (such as templates from the S.B.A. and "off-the-shelf" business planning softwares such as Business Plan Pro).

                                 

                                In my initial meeting with a client, I always ask them if they have an idea as to the amount of funding they will need to get their business off the ground up to the point that the profits start covering the operating expenses. By about the same percentage of new start-ups that fail in the first 5 years (around 80%+), the actual amount that I usually determine is about double what they thought it would be (sort of like a home repair project that always seems to take twice as long to do than you thought)! Research has shown that the number one reason start-ups fail in the first 5 years is due to running out of money.

                                 

                                Overall, the business planning process is a critical step in helping you to achieve success down the road. I saw one statistic (I believe from the S.B.A.) that stated that 70% of the businesses that failed did not have a business plan. Conversely, this also means that 30% of the businesses that failed DID have a business plan. I suspect that a large number of these people used the business plan to get their funding and then put their business plan up on the shelf, never to be seen again. As I mentioned above, PLEASE use your business plan in the future to help give you the guidance of what to do and what to expect in the future for your business. Your Plan should be a "living" document, to be reviewed frequently and modified if needed to accommodate unanticipated changes or opportunities in the future that make good business sense to deviate from the original Plan.

                                 

                                Also, if you are not knowledgeable in certain areas, such as Marketing, budget dollars in Marketing that will allow you to outsource this area to an expert in that field. I usually ask clients to budget 10% of their first year's anticipated revenues into marketing and advertising activities, as the first year is the most critical in building a client base that can help you by referring your company to their friends and clients. Many new business owners think that all they have to do is open their doors and the new customers will come! Sorry, but you can have the best company in the world, but people have to know that you are there.

                                 

                                One final suggestion for now, also track how you get your new clients, so that you will see what marketing or advertising campaign is working (or NOT working) for you. You will have many people coming to you to spend your limited marketing dollars with them, so you must know what is working for you. Be sure to also understand who your target market is. If your market is mostly people under 40, they will probably not read any marketing info mailed to them, as they are only searching for your products or services online via internet searches, so also keep up your website with fresh information.

                                 

                                I hope the above info helps. I have additional info on my blog regarding:

                                • The Makings of a Business Plan
                                • The mistakes companies make in starting a business
                                • a Checklist of what to do before you open your doors and also after you open your doors

                                 

                                Here is a link to my blog:   http://alturl.com/vp47

                                 

                                Thanks!

                                Bob Lamp'l

                                • Re: How to make a business plan?
                                  SBC Team Guide

                                  You all are providing some great information in this post!  Thank you so much for your contributions!

                                   

                                  - The Small Business Community Team

                                  • Re: How to make a business plan?
                                    joliemartin Scout

                                    Online shopping is my favorite, It is very important. Nowadays online shopping is very famous in the UK and people also like online shopping very much. I have done my last online shopping through wholesalepages.co.uk. I purchased some dresses and shoes. I do not think that UK people like luxuries because they always say that a simple life has its own attraction as comparable to luxuries. But also I have found that affiliate marketing is very famous in the UK. So as that mostly UK or USA investors are trying to invest in this business.

                                    • Re: How to make a business plan?
                                      alicenikolic Scout

                                      As a business entrepreneur particularly when starting a new venture you need to adjust ways of working and maintain schedules that work best for you.

                                      • Re: How to make a business plan?
                                        Moderator Berta Guide

                                        Hi futureowner,

                                         

                                        You've gotten lots of great information, advice and shared experinece here. How's your business plan coming?  Please keep us updated

                                         

                                        ~Berta