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How to Write a ‘Killer’ Business Plan

Writing a Business Plan can be a daunting task. You have so many ideas floating around in your head that it can be difficult to capture them all in a logical format. However, committing time to writing an effective Plan can help improve your chances of success. In this article I will be giving you some tips on how to write a ‘killer’ Business Plan!

Tip 1 – Understand the Need for a Plan

Without a clear strategy and long term objectives you may be reducing your chances of success and so it’s important to commit time to plan ahead. Having put in time, energy and resources to come up with the ideas, why spoil it all by not having a structured plan for the future? The benefits of business planning cannot be underestimated. There are some potentially business-changing reasons to prepare a Business Plan. You must view planning as a crucial investment of your time, which could mean the difference between success and failure.

Tip 2 – Don’t Go It Alone, Ask For Help

Picture this. You’ve never written a Business Plan before; you sit down at your table and end up staring at a blank piece of paper for 3 hours! Then, another 3 hours later, all you have is a bin full of scrap paper. However, in order to help you put a plan together there are a variety of sources of help you can tap into:

o Professional advisers

o Business colleagues

o Advice agencies

o Your staff

o Books (see our free e-book offer at the end of this article)

Tip 3 – Follow a Framework

Having a framework or outline to follow can make the task of writing a Business Plan so much easier. The 3 parts to your Plan are:

o Where you are now

o Where you intend to be

o How you are going to get there

This is your framework which will guide both you and the reader through your business and your idea.

Tip 4 – Tell the Reader Where You Are Now

In your first section you want to paint a picture of where your business is now. These are the main areas to cover:

o Business history

o Location and premises

o Your product or service

o Your market

o Your customers

o Your competition

o Your staff

o Equipment

Provide an insight into each part of your business so that the reader of your Plan knows how the business looks now. Obviously if you are just starting up, give an idea of how you see these parts of your business once you get going.

Tip 5 – Tell the Reader Where You Intend To Be

Having given an overview of your business, the next step is to tell them where you want to be. The main points to cover are:

o Your objectives and goals

o State what you want from the reader – a loan or overdraft for example

o Explain why you need and what it will be used for

Tip 6 – Tell the Reader How You Are Going To Get There

It’s all very well promoting your idea and business but the important point to put over is how you are going to get there. Here are the key points to cover:

o Marketing plan

o Additional resources needed to meet your objectives and goals

o Your contribution in terms of cash or equipment

o Security you can offer to support a request for finance

o Profit and loss and cash flow forecast to show that you plan to make money and that you can pay back the loan

Tip 7 – Provide Some Supporting Information

Your Plan will have contained a lot of information, so it is helpful to include supporting documentation to provide more background. Placing these additional items as an appendix ensures that the flow of the Plan has not been affected by additional information.

o What sort of items could you include?

o Letter of support from your Accountant

o Confirmation of pending orders from customers

o If you are purchasing a property, you could include the sales particulars

o Independent industry surveys showing that your sector is doing well

o If you are buying machinery, include quotations

o If you business’ main asset is you, include your CV!

Tip 8 – Ask Someone to Review It

When you are totally immersed in a task you can easily miss obvious mistakes. Ask someone to review your Plan to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors – don’t rely on Spell Check! Does it all make sense? Have you been logical in your arguments?

Tip 9 – Get the Presentation Right

After having spent a lot of time and effort on the content you don’t want to spoil it all with poor presentation! Here are some tips:

o Get the Plan typed; it will make it look more professional

o Make sure all the papers are clean and that there are no dirt marks or coffee stains! Buy some good quality paper

o Purchase a classy folder or binder to put your Plan in (paper clips or staples may not portray the right image!)

o don’t forget to include all your contact details

Tip 10 – Deliver Your Plan to the Reader in Time

Once you are satisfied that your Plan is a good representation of your business you can post it but ideally you should deliver it, at least you know it has got there! Prior to a formal interview (if your aim is to obtain finance) you need to give the Manager time to read your plan. Ask to make an appointment with him in 3 days so he has time to read it.

Enclose a covering letter saying that you have made an appointment and your Plan is attached for him to review and to prepare any questions.

All that remains for you to do is to turn up at the agreed time and present your case!

© Robert Warlow
Small Business Success

Real Estate Foreclosure Investing is Felonious

In the real estate market many think that foreclosure investing make you rich quickly. Even many ex-investors or experienced ones also tend to believe so. If a real estate investor proposes a property owner to pay him good cash and also conciliate his back defrayments and then claims the property. Then the property is said to be rented to the property owner himself for two years along with a choice to buy it back again within the lease period. The ball is now in your court. If the owner of the house does not opt for the buying of the house, then after two years the house will be owned by the real estate investors. The idea sounds to be groovy. You neither had to compete with other investors for closing a deal nor are you had to actually buy the property.

Now, after the foreclosure, the home owner will be very obliged when you will be settling all his back payments. But, alas! After the lease period is over, if the home owner is unable to finally regain his property, then may begin the cark. What may happen next? The owner may now take steps for strict actions against the buyer. He may go to the court and file a case that the buyer has deceived him and the sale or lease was just a cloaked loan. The lawyer on the owner’s side will claim to qualify the back payment as a loan and entitle the property to the name of the owner again. If the court is convinced by the claim, then loan will be declared illegal since it is exorbitant.

Figures may help you understand the above foreclosure better. Suppose the house in foreclosure is worth $ 200,000.The loan balance is $100,000. the home owner was lagging behind by $10,000. What the real estate investor did is paid the owner’s residuum payment and took possession of the house. Now the investor rents the house back to the same owner with an option to buy it back for $200,000 according to the market value. Apparently no one will find any flaws in this deal.

The real problem will arise if the court comes in to action in between. If the court declares the dealing to be a loan, then do you have any idea what the loan interest is against for? The home owner has been loaned $10,000 against an interest rate of 1000%! Does it sound realistic form any aspect? You paid him back $10,000. But to get his home back the owner has to pay $100,000 to get his own equity back. A loan for 1000% interest sounds vigorish. The court will immediately invalidate the loan. You will be the loser at the end of the game. You lose the property as well as the $10,000.

You charged a loan which is “usury”, i.e. the interest you charged was far more than countenanced by law. The preliminary penalty for such a foreclosure investment (usurious loan) will be polite to some extent. But, if any investor keeps on making such loans on a regular basis, then he will be at stake. The court may mark his business as the criminal term “racketeering”. This may later compel him to get behind the bars.

Different ways to Promote your Business using Internet

If you work on your own, this article is for you. Whether you provide services or have your own store, you know you need to make yourself known by potential customers. The great question is how to do it. You probably don’t have tons of money to invest in publicity. Besides, not all forms of publicity are the right choice for all businesses. The right publicity for you depends on the characteristics of your business. In this article we will explore how you can take advantage of the web to draw customers to your business.

The first thing you need to get is your own website. This can be a simple website, just telling visitors what you do and allowing them to contact you, either by email, phone or by filling in a form. It is important that your site has a nice design according to your occupation, because it will provide the first impression users will have of your business. You may contact a web designer to develop your site. If you do it yourself, pay attention to the styles, colors and layout you use. Some hints:

  • neat pages look better than over crowded ones
  • use colors to highlight phrases or areas you want users to pay special attention to
  • the site navigation (menus) must be easy to understand and use by all visitors
  • keep in mind that people use different browsers, and if possible, view your site with two or three browsers to check how it looks.
  • design your site to be search engine friendly. You will need search engines to direct traffic to your site, so you need them to be able to index it.

Once you have your website, it becomes the Internet branch of your business. That’s the beginning of your Internet presence. Now you need to register it in search engines and directories so users can find it. You will find global directories like DMOZ (http://www.dmoz.org) and there may be also industry-specific directories where you can register your business. Search for directories in the major search engines and register your site in as many directories as you can. Inclusion in some search engines and directories is paid, it’s then up to you to decide whether it will be a good idea or not to pay for it. It depends on your business, on whether your market is highly competitive or not, and of course it depends on whether you can afford it or not.

Next step is to generate backlinks to your site. It means to get other sites to link to your site. This helps your site get a better page rank in search engines, and also exposes your site to more people. In certain cases, link-exchange programs may be helpful. You have already created some backlinks by adding your site to the search engines and directories. Now, you have other ways to add more backlinks:

  • write articles about your field of expertise and post them in article directories, including the url to your business and a brief but tempting explanation of what you do in the resource box.
  • post in forums related to your field of expertise, trying to be helpful to others so people see you know what you do. Include your url in your signature. Don’t spam the forums, that won’t look good at all. Just post when you really have something useful to say.

Another way to promote your business is to offer a periodic newsletter in your website. This way you send an email including interesting and useful information to your subscribers, once a week, or once a month, for example. If they really like it, they will refer other people to it thus making your subscriber base grow.

You can also promote your business every time you send an email. Just add your url in your signature. This way, every person to whom you send an email will also have a link to your website.

There are also pay-per-click advertising programs in the web, major search engines like Google and Yahoo offer them. In these programs, you publish an ad, and search engines display it. You pay when someone clicks on the ad to be directed to your site. If you decide to use these programs, you need to experiment with them to get the best benefit with low cost.

Last, but not least: you need to add content to your site periodically, so visitors come back and search engines rank your site better. Both people and search engines like sites with useful up-to-date content.