Business Planning and Development

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View Poll Results: Did you write a business plan in preparation for launching your practice?
Yes! I followed the traditional business plan model. 48 33.57%
Yes! I wrote a business plan but it was a casual draft. 46 32.17%
No...I didn't write a business plan - do I need one? 29 20.28%
Yes...I wrote a business plan, kind of, it's all in my mental filing cabinet 20 13.99%
Hmmm, what's a business plan? 0 0%
Voters: 143. You may not vote on this poll

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    #41 (permalink)  
Old 10-08-2008
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Default Re: Poll: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
Initially I wrote a 'loose' plan but mine has become quiet fluid which is what they are suppose to be. As I wasn't trying to obtain $$$ from a bank, I filled out the parts that were pertinent to me.

They say that a business plan should take around 40 hours to complete - long time huh, but it is useless to spend all that time on your plan if you never re-visit it and update it as your business grows/changes etc.

Good luck
    #42 (permalink)  
Old 10-08-2008
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Default Re: Poll: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
I am based in Africa. I have been having a hard time coming up with the marketing plan. Basically, VAs are new in Africa unless i want to acquire clients from abroad. Does anyone have information on coming up with a marketing plan for a VA in Africa?
    #43 (permalink)  
Old 10-08-2008
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Default Re: Poll: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
My business plan is a ongoing work in progress, I pull it out every 6 months to a year, read and update as needed. It also helps me stay on track by showing me what I have accomplished.
    #44 (permalink)  
Old 10-20-2008
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Default Re: Poll: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
I have just completed my business plan, although there are a few questions I've skipped over but will go back to once I find the information.

I wouldn't have felt right starting up a business without a plan. Like others here I also plan to review it regularly. It gives me a good idea of the things I have under control and the things I need to pay more attention to.

One of the banks over here currently has an advertising campaign where the catchline is "you've got to plan to become what you plan to become." I think that makes sense for all of us.
    #45 (permalink)  
Old 10-20-2008
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Default Re: Poll: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
Wow, should it really take that long? How detailed should it be? Is it just a personal preference? Does anyone know if there is a template available just for Va's?

I'm about to start mine!

Thank you!!
    #46 (permalink)  
Old 10-23-2008
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Default Re: Poll: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
My business plan is complete, an it did take some serious hours. It is always good to review it on occassions and update it when necessary.
    #47 (permalink)  
Old 10-23-2008
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Default Re: Poll: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
I did find a good example from SCORE. It is nicely detailed but can be tailored to your own business. I feel it is too formal and lengthy so I will change it just a bit...

I just started working on it so wish me luck!!

Lori
    #48 (permalink)  
Old 05-14-2010
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Default Re: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
Good Day,

I'm just in the process of starting my VA business. I know that a business plan is important but it seems too lengthy for me and I quickly get discouraged. I saw someone mentioned a road map above and I was wondering if anyone have the time to explain what exactly is a road map? Thank you!

Chaley
    #49 (permalink)  
Old 05-17-2010
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Smile Re: Poll: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
Originally Posted by mwanje1103 View Post
I am based in Africa. I have been having a hard time coming up with the marketing plan. Basically, VAs are new in Africa unless i want to acquire clients from abroad. Does anyone have information on coming up with a marketing plan for a VA in Africa?
I found the best thing to tell a business professional that is interested in using your services is to show them how much time and money their can save by subcontracting a VA. I think there is a comparison chart on this forum, where you can show the actually numbers. After showing them something to that effect, show them how you can help their business grow. What are your specialties (niche) what do you do best, (i.e. Powerpoint, Desktop Publication, Spreadsheets, DataBase Creations, PDF conversions (to and From) or just general office work)?

Make up Fliers and hand them out, put them where you know business professionasl gather to do business. Draft a Business Resume, Firms, Companies, Business Professionals you have worked with and include them in this Resume. This not a personal resume. Get Business cards, your company's name, website and email address. With that now put together a Profile of your Company along with a profile of you, attach honorable mentions, business cards and the services you offer. Word of advise, a business professional like to see an email address with your name and your company name attached. (i.e. info@yourdomain name). It lets a business professional see you're also a business owner. If you need anymore advise p.m. me.
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    #50 (permalink)  
Old 05-20-2010
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Default Re: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
No, I didn't write but it has been on my '2 do' list. I know it's important and I'll start one today.
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    #51 (permalink)  
Old 05-20-2010
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Default Re: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
I scanned through this post and didn't see where anyone noted where they got their Business plan template (except the mention of SCORE). Does anyone else have a suggestion of a website where there might be a template? Or perhaps can post one? I don't have enought posts yet (too new to the site) to look in the document library.
THANKS
    #52 (permalink)  
Old 05-20-2010
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Default Re: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
I haven't yet, but it's on my todo list. I feel like I need to come up with a name first before doing anything aside from research.
    #53 (permalink)  
Old 05-20-2010
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Default Re: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
I do not have a formal business plan, but I do have a rough draft of it handwritten in a notebook I keep right on my desk to look at to help me to keep focused on my goals.
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    #54 (permalink)  
Old 05-21-2010
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Default Re: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
Amanda, there's a good sample at bplans.com. You can also get a more specific one from the VA Chamber of Commerce, but it costs about $25.
    #55 (permalink)  
Old 08-17-2010
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Default Re: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
Interesting responses everyone, thanks to all who have contributed to this conversation - would love to see it continue to grow
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    #56 (permalink)  
Old 08-23-2010
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Default Re: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
I literally fell into this line of work!!

I was working as a Resource Planning Assistant, got married and two days later broke my ankle. Not only did it mean a cancelled honeymoon but I had almost three months off work and suffered mild depression. When I went back to work I found it too much so handed my notice in the next day. A friend told me about a local company that offered transcription work from home so I gave it a go and after a few months started my business.

I guess I had nothing to lose so didn't worry about a business plan!
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    #57 (permalink)  
Old 08-24-2010
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Default Re: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
I am currently in the process of completing my business plan. Being a business counselor for the past three years and seeing so many businesses nearly close their doors due to poor marketing and financial planning I felt it necessary for me to have a "road map" of my own.

Although I am almost complete there are still areas in which I am constantly reviewing and revising. My intention is to revise my plan on an annual basis, just as Kathie mentioned. Even though I know I am hard on myself at times, I want to ensure that I am meeting my annual goals which include maintaining a 90% client satisfaction rating for my first year in business.

I do have to admit though; I've been so focused on writing my business plan and networking that I haven't had the time to start marketing and am afraid that I will not get clients in a timely manner.

Any suggestions from those who wrote a business plan initially as to how long it took you to execute it and start receiving calls from clients?
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    #58 (permalink)  
Old 08-25-2010
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Default Re: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
Well I'm gonna go for broke here...

I've been in the biz for over 14 yrs now. I've been on a hiatus for the past almost two years, just getting back in the swing (can somebody give me push please?)

I went into this business as it was first coming into view so to speak. One of the forerunners you might say. I'm the type of person who doesn't necessarily make plans. I just GO. But then, there's this other side of me that is so anal about 'preparing for stuff', that it's quite a paradox. Yes folks, I'm a walking, talking paradox - what can I say?

Well, that's what I did. No plan. Just a lot of inspiration and true desire, a great passion for the industry, a willingness to constantly learn and share whatever I learned, and the quintessential desire to be of assistance. I had just gotten laid off from a corporate job due to down sizing and gotten my first computer. I had also just gotten married. But I digress...

I knew absolutely NADA about running a business. I barely knew how to find my way around MS Office. It was a real 'by the seat of your pants' venture. Or should I say - ADventure...? And I daresay, it has been an adventure.

I taught myself Web design and coding, I taught myself about database admin and spreadsheets. I taught myself about business bookkeeping, and how to use the tools by which one carries out those particular tasks. I am basically a self taught kinda gal. Although I have taken many, many college courses pertaining to business, business law, organization, and of course the more technical hands on stuff.

A business plan was just something I never thought of, about, or had the slightest inclination to carry out.

My tenure as a VA has had it's ups and downs. I've fallen. I've gotten back up again. I've made mistakes in my business, with my clients (also alienated a few), and life in general. But I am a survivor. I like to think I've learned from all the boners I've pulled in the past. And I think I have.

I still have my innate passion, my 'go getter' attitude, very good skills, the mind set that I am so very open to learning and that I can NEVER know everything, the true desire to share whatever knowledge I have, to be 'of service', and to put it in plain language - MOXIE.

Now mind you, this is not the way I would suggest starting a VA business - or ANY business for that matter - to anyone just starting out. My only wish is to pass on and share what I've learned by trial and error.

So, that's my story. I think I'll stick to it.

Dr. Janice St. Germain, PhD
School of Hard Knocks
    #59 (permalink)  
Old 08-25-2010
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Default Re: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
I've worked with lots of businesses that don't have business plans, and have seen how necessary a plan is! As a small business counselor, I strongly suggest using your local SBDC...they are a great resource and can help guide a business owner in writing their business plans!
    #60 (permalink)  
Old 08-28-2010
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Default Re: Did you write a business plan in preparation for your practice?
I found that writing a clear plan when starting my business focused me on what I wanted to achieve.

I am a firm believer that a business plan is a living document. It must be looked at regularly and developed as your business develops.

It also made it easy when talking with my accountant, at the set up stage, to give them a clear picture of what I was doing. It also encouraged them to think about how they could use our services and that was a great marketing tool.
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