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Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Start Writing Your Business Plan

When you are preparing to get a business started, one thing you MUST nail down is your business plan. I speak from experience on this. Not too long ago friends talked me into starting a small business. I was so excited with the idea of getting started and being my own boss, that I did not create a business plan. And I suffered because I bypassed this step initially.

A business plan is more than just deciding you are going to be the best in your field, it is a game plan to get you from idea to successful business. It's important for e-commerce businesses too.

Some of you out there might be asking yourself if you really need a business plan. I can go into details about why I think you should, but Entrepreneur has already done a good job of that.

Start by asking yourself the following questions...

  • How long do you want your business plan to be for?

    • This is not often touched on. Some would say that a business plan is the road map for your entire business.

    • You can also specify your business plan for a shorter time period, say three to five years, with projections of what you see beyond that.

  • What is your final goal for the end of the business plan?

    • You may have the eventual goal of being the best in your business. But is that something that you can do in five years? If not do not worry, you can extend your business plan, or even write a second phase later. Right now, concentrate on the end goal for the time frame you set your plan for.

    • Also, you want to specifically consider, what do you want your revenue to look like by that point? Are you going to have employees? Are you going to be selling online and in stores? Etc.

  • What are your intermediate goals?

    • If your plan is for three years, then what is your six month, one year and two year goals that will get you to the end goal of the business plan?

Following that you'll need to get into more detailed questions:

  • Products:

    • What are your current products?

    • What products do you want to add over the course of the business plan?

  • Customers:

    • Who are your target customers?

    • What demographic do they fit into?

    • How large is that market?

    • How are you going to reach your target customers?

  • Competition:

    • Who are your competitors?

    • What are their strength and weaknesses?

    • Where do you have an advantage over them?

  • Finances:

    • How much capital will you need to get started?

    • Where do you want your finances to be at your intermediate and final goal?

  • Other:

    • What if you do not reach an intermediate goal?

      • How will you change your plan?

      • Will it be so you can still reach your final goal, or will all of it change? If so, how?

    • What if you surpass a goal?

      • Will you stick with your plan or change it for a further goal?

Are you overwhelmed yet? I hope not, because we are just getting started. Next week we will walk you through how to actually writing your business plan, so do your homework now and that big step will be easier. You can also get started with making a business plan here.

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Good Luck and Good Sales!