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6 Easy Steps to Developing a Business Plan Outline [ Free Download]

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developing a business plan outline and format

From the post, Business Plan Sample, we were made to think that a business plan has to follow a standard format. Actually, not every business needs that professional outlook. Some businesses just require an outline for themselves and their team members. In this article, we have the steps to developing that business plan for your small business.

What usually deters entrepreneurs from developing a business plan outline is the time to do so. They believe a business plan format takes a lot of time to develop. In addition, many are afraid that their brilliant idea isn’t so brilliant on paper after all.

Taking time out to research and write a plan makes you identify risks and possible roadblocks. Business plans are essential to identifying and overcoming obstacles on your path so you can build a successful empire.

6 Steps to Developing and Writing a Business Plan Outline

Before you can develop a business plan, there are researches that are ought to be carried out and information needed for the outline to help the business succeed.

Here are 6 easy steps to developing a business plan;

Read and Research Effectively

To write that perfect plan, you must know your company, your product, your competitors, and the market.

That is to say, it is mandatory to know everything you can about your business and the industry you are entering. Read everything you can about your industry and talk to your audience.

William Pirraglia, a retired senior financial and management executive said: “Consider spending twice as much time researching, evaluating and thinking as you spend actually writing the business plan”.

What is the purpose of your plan?

In our earlier article, we explained that a business plan can serve various purposes.

It can be used as a fundraiser to attract investors, as a business roadmap to plan for a business’s future, etc. Your business plan should depict whatever the business plan is being drafted for.

However, if you want to attract investors, you will have to write a plan that targets them so it will have to be as clear and concise as possible.

When you define your plan, make sure you have defined its goal as well.

Create a company profile

In developing a business plan, you need a company profile.

Your company profile includes the history of your organization, what products or services you offer, your target market and audience, your resources, how you’re going to solve a problem and what makes your business unique.

Document all aspects of your business

The basic objective of a business is to make profits. Investors want to make sure that your business is going to make them money.

Because of this expectation, investors want to know everything about your business. To help with this process, document everything from your expenses, cash flow, and industry projections. Also, don’t forget seemingly minor details like your location, strategy and licensing if needed.

Have a strategic marketing plan

Let us simplify this step a bit.

Your marketing plan should have an objective phase and the implementation stage.

In the objectives section of your marketing plan, you focus on ‘what’ and ‘why’ of the marketing tasks. The implementation section focuses on practicals. The ‘how’ of the marketing tasks; how you intend to achieve those objectives.

For example, a typical marketing objective includes:

  • Introducing new products
  • Increasing the market for existing products
  • Entering new markets
  • Boosting sales. Be specific.
  • Entering into long-term contracts with some clients
  • Raising prices without cutting into sales figures
  • Enhancing manufacturing and product delivery

The ‘how’ for introducing a new product will be;

  • What exact steps do I need to introduce a new product? Is the product wholly manufactured by me or assembled? etc

Make the Plan Customer-based

The potential readers of a business plan are different people, ranging from bankers and venture capitalists to employees. And each reader has certain interests.

Because of this, make sure that your plan can be modified depending on the audience reading your plan. However, keep the modifications limited. This means that when sharing financial projections, you should keep that data the same.

For example, bankers will be more interested in balance sheets and cash-flow statements, while venture capitalists will be looking at the basic business concept and your management team. The manager on your team, however, will be using the plan to “remind themselves of objectives.

The data will be the same but the explanation varied.

developing a business plan outline

Developing a Business Plan Outline

A business plan format consists of 8 main sections.

Read Also: Why you need a Mentor as a Startup

The format highlighted briefly.

  • Executive summary – A synopsis of your business
  • Company description – Describes what you do
  • Market analysis – Research on your industry, market, and competitors
  • Operational plan – Daily activities of the company
  • Organization and management – Your business and management structure
  • Service or product – The products or services you’re offering
  • Marketing and sales – How you’ll market your business and your sales strategy
  • Financial projections and plan – Information like balance sheets. How much money you will need for the next 3 to 5 years.
  • Appendix – An additional section that includes résumés and permits

Do download the PDF below to get the full details on the outline and what to include or leave out. Each section of the business plan has been discussed extensively.

DOWNLOAD PDF

Did this article meet your demands? Leave us a comment in the comment box.

Victory is a Certified Finance Personnel. She loves to write and relate to people.

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business branding

10 SMALL BUSINESS BRANDING BOOKS

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small business branding books

The place of books in small business branding can be likened to the worth of time and some financial investments. Small business branding books actually tell how and give practicable methods rather than the conventional theories. These branding books are top-notch

Small business branding books can;

1. Bring clarity and expository details
2. Inspire your business growth rate.
3. Improve the desire for value creation.

Listed below is a wide range of small business branding books that will help you find answers to your questions as well as why you should read them.

1. Archetypes in branding

This book highlights various characteristics of 60 prototypes and models that you could find reparable and useful to your branding strategy.

2. How to style your brand

This conveys how much your logo and graphics outlook helps to pass the message of your business.
Author “Fiona humberstone”.

3. Positioning

This book is co-authored by “Al-Ries” and “Jack Trout”. It identifies the importance of finding your spot in the hearts of customers and prospects going by the fact that they are exposed to numerous information from other brands and competitors.

4. Brand portfolio strategy

Author “David. A. Aaker” has proven to be an authority in the world of business branding with a wide range of other works such as “Building strong brands” and “Brand relevance”, he explains how to leverage your brand in order to win in the market place. This is exactly the apple brand experience

5. The 22 immutable laws of branding

This is structured for list-based learners. The Ries gives a rundown of 22 laws that helps in the brand growth process. Giving examples and relatable advice.

Authors; Al Ries and Laura Ties.

6. The power of broke

This is a controversial book that explains how empty pockets, the desire for success becomes your greatest lesson in your rise to financial success.
Author; Daymond John.

Read Also: The Coca-Cola Brand Story: 5 Things they did

7. The handmade entrepreneur

Author “ Dani Maxe” preaches how to build a great business around your craft goods. The techniques helps to set up a thriving craft business.

8. SEO for growth

The need to understand search engine optimization will help you convert your website into cash flow entity. It is for both amateurs and pros alike. Author “John Jantsch” and his co-author emphasizes the need to understand SEO practices as a vital tool in small business branding.

9. Launch

Author “Jeff Walker “ shares his story and supplies strategies to utilize in your small business branding.

10. Millionaire marketing on a shoe string budget.

This is that last but not the least of the small business branding books. It offers useful marketing tips for small business branding as Author “Debra Jason” analyses the path to run your desired business without stress yet making more money.

Developing a small business requires efforts therefore, sapping into these small business branding books is the way to go!

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business branding

How to choose business names [Step by step guide]

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Business names

Business names no matter how easy it looks do get a lot of entrepreneurs worried and can even cause a level of disagreement among team members and partners. During the acquisition and merger process, which of the business names should be adopted and which should be dropped or how can the business names be combined to drive new purpose? Choosing business names shouldn’t be difficult and shouldn’t be a herculean task. There’s a way to get business names right. Here is a step by step guide to help you come up with business names to drive growth.

1. Throw away sentiments when seeking business names.

Business name

Don’t fall in love so much with the name that you want to create your business name around your personal name. It’s not really bad to name your business after your name but it should be done for a more purposeful reason than sentiments. One reason could be that the business is a family business you wish to pass on immediate family.

2. What does your business stand for?

Some successful business might seem to have contradicted this. Companies like Apple taking up the name of fruit as a business name when it doesn’t sell fruit and not even an agro company but a tech company. Speculation had it that the name was coined from the Eden experience where a lady looked at the tree that was so irresistibly appealing that she had to take a bite disobeying God. So the idea is to create products with physical features, components, and beauty so much that people can’t resist buying the products.

READ ALSO: Mystery behind Apple brand

3. Who’s your target market?

Yes, it matters sometimes who your target markets are when choosing business names. Why? Some local names can drive home the point and essence of your business for easy pronunciation and acceptability. Your market might have a name associated already to such operations or services like the popular word in Nigeria used to describe bike riders “Okada” a company redefined this service operation in an Uber-like way and added the letter G to the Okada making it Gokada. Everyone in the market space hearing the name instantly knew what the business stood for and it was easy to be adopted.

4. How easy is the pronunciation?

Some names are hard to pronounce and others are easy. When creating a company, you need to reduce the barriers keeping customers and investors from buying into your vision. If your company name is hard to pronounce, difficult to spell, or makes little sense in relation to your product, you’ve unknowingly created a barrier to your own success says LinkedIn Influencer, Ilya Pozin.

READ ALSO: China’s biggest business secret

5. Domain name availability and online factors:

Some businesses capitalize on their online platform to penetrate the market. The purpose of this is to use names that will make it easy for your business to be found online. Some names have high search competition online and some others have high search volume but low competition. What does this mean? High search means a lot of people are searching for related info around that names which implies you can have all those audiences attracted to your platform with little effort if there are no other sites competing for same related names or keywords. If there are no much sites fighting for the same keyword it means there is low competition. Whichever way, the key is to find names you can easily rank for on search engines if online presence means so much to your business. (keywordtool.io, kwfinder.com, and semrush.com can help you search for these keywords or domain names.)

In conclusion, Names that are easy to remember, pronounce, spell, easy to rank for online and related to your business service or operations would go a long way to helping your business. These 5 step by step guide will help you so much. However, there are no dead rigid rules to follow when searching for a name for your business, these are only some suggestions to help one come with names that easily would penetrate and stay in the market and heart of customers. Names don’t entirely determine the success of a business but it sure contributes.

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WHY ADVERTISING WOULD KILL YOUR BUSINESS.

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why advertising would kill your business

 

Would anyone think why advertising would kill your business? With the so much importance laid on advertising and how the lack of it would kill your business, nobody thinks how actually advertising has killed a lot of businesses. It’s the seemingly one important factor that grows businesses especially new businesses gaining entrance into the market or old businesses seeking entrance into new markets. However, when your business has not been set right advertising and marketing would only help to kill your business faster.

Here is why advertising would kill your business faster than you think.

1. User Experience: This is the most neglected reason why advertising would kill your business faster than you think. Your product might be awesome but if users have bad experiences using the products, advertising that product isn’t the most important thing to do. Here is the principle, “for every experience a user gets using your product, they would tell seven more people”. Now that use of social media is on the increase, you can’t tell the number of people that get to read their narration about the product. Assuming it’s a bad experience and you keep investing heavily in advertising you are only multiplying the number of users who say a lot of bad things to millions of other people around the world.

With the 2 consecutive bad user experience, Boeing experienced between September 2018 to March 2019 reporting the crash of their 737 max, a newly launched model of their airplane with about 157 death record on the second crash with no survivor, imagine if they keep selling that product or keep advertising the product when the governments of different nations are banning the flight from being used in their countries. If you are the CEO of Boeing, how would you remedy the brand image? By Advertising? Of course not!

2. Brand Failure: To build a brand is to sell a promise and live up to it. Apple Brand building has been an awesome one bringing them to the most valuable brand in the world in 2018. How did Apple build its brand? Giving a promise and living up to it. People won’t judge you by what you didn’t promise but by what you promise. If you promise quality and under-deliver especially as a small business, then users will be disappointed and definitely would share their disappointment with many other people. The more you sell that promise through advertising, the more you kill your brand and kill Trust people have for your business which in turn would Kill your brand Loyalty. To remedy your brand loyalty, see these 7 ways to build customer loyalty again.

Read Also: How to Build Trust in Business

Samsung once had to recall phones people complained that it caused fire explosion, though not all users where affected, they recalled all of the phones back. Why? to stop Bad user experience. Fixed the issue and sent a better product back to the users. This increased Trust, Loyalty and in turn increased good Reviews and created a better user experience and attractive testimonial. Lexus too once did a recall. With bad brand and bad user experience, advertising would kill your business faster.

3. Bad product: This is the most dangerous reason why advertising would kill your business faster than you think. Get your product right before sales. It’s understandable for software to be released in versions because nobody gets it fully developed at first launched. However, let your first release or your minimum viable product (MVP) at least be up to your market standard. With a bad product in the market, advertising would kill your business faster. If your business needs so much advertising/marketing to sell in the first place, then the products aren’t good enough.

In conclusion: Advertising is great, Big companies still spend a huge amount on advertising and marketing. Advertising is a great tool for a new product launch or new market penetration However, only when you have solved the 3 factors discusses above right. Don’t kill your business with your own hands. When you discover these loopholes in your competitors, you can kill them faster by advertising for them anonymously but be sure they are not in for a short term return like what we call “hit and run”

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