Business Planning and Development

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Old 06-07-2011
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Default Do I really need a business plan?
I am so confused. I understand the reason behind a business plan and why its needed, but everytime I try to write it out I go blank. Maybe I just don't know what I'm doing when it come to a business plan. I have looked it up and got a templete and guide, but I just can't get to words right or know what to say since I have no idea what to put on it. I need help.
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Old 06-07-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
Hi Lori,

It sounds as if you're really struggling with doing a business plan but it's great that you've made the commitment to do one.A couple of tips that might help is that unless you're using the business plan to get financing from a bank, it really is something you're doing just for you and your business. Don't worry so much about doing things right but concentrate more on what is right for your business. There also are some sites out there that offer simplified versions of business plans that also might be easier to help get you started.

There is also a thread here about business plans, good luck!
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Old 06-07-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
I think it's important to write one, even informally, in order to help define the vision and goals of your business. Instead of trying to formulate clear, concise thoughts why not brainstorm at first and literally write whatever comes in to your head. It doesn't have to make sense right off the bat, just unload ideas. You must have some kind of vision or ideas about how you want your business to grow and why you are doing it, so start with that. Once you have something on paper you can go back and refine it. I found by doing this, it unearthed thoughts and ideas that I hadn't first considered and helped to give my business a clearer purpose and direction. Definitely worth the effort. Good luck.
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Old 06-07-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
I'd add to the good comments here that a biz plan is a map that shows where you want to go and how you're going to get there. So the first thing to do is to get really clear on what you want (e.g., how much money do you want to make, where do you want to live, what do you want to achieve, etc.). Once your dream is down in black-and-white, then the rest of the plan is a matter of specifying what you will do to get there.
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Old 06-07-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
Also, be sure to check out today's conversation on our Facebook page in response to your thread.
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Old 06-07-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
I agree with Linda. Don't start off worried about form. Just brainstorm and take notes.

It's incredibly useful. I was near launching when I got an offer for some short-term work that I couldn't refuse. When I returned to my own business I was able to use the plan to get back to where I was. When I start getting cold feet about something, like spending money for advertising, my plan reminds me that I budgeted for it. It also reminds me of the schedule of advertising that I have planned and what industries I will target each advertising cycle.

I was able to get free help writing my plan--invaluable! Check out your area to see if anything is available from SCORE or some small business organization.

Good luck,

Leanne
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Old 06-08-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
You should have a plan, however detailed or not. This will help you see what areas need to be fleshed out and give you a guide to success. Most people write there plans and forget about them, however they should be a living document to use as you grow.

You plan does not need to be formal but should address your target, ideal client, competition, services, budget and most importantly marketing. I also include a section in mine for professional development.

SCORE or the SBA is a great place to start however check out local colleges to see if they provide any type of entrepreneurial services. I am lucky to live so close to Pittsburgh where we have some great colleges and the big ones have different types of entrepreneur programs that provide mentors, education and development.
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Old 06-09-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
SCORE huh? I will have to check them out. I need some assistance as well with coming up with a business plan.
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Old 06-09-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
I found this checklist extrememly helpful to get the thought process moving along: http://www.virtualassistantforums.co...checklist-1666 After I had worked on the checklist, I was confident enough to write a business plan. I found one online and used the parts that were relevant to my small business.
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Old 07-05-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
Thank you Chela for posting this link. As someone who is new to this I am also nervous about the plan and love the idea of having this checklist to keep me focused.
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Old 07-19-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
thank you ladies for the advice!! one key to success is getting clear about what it is that you actually want....and I have to really sit down and think about what it is that I need & want from my business!!
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Old 07-19-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
I wrote a business plan, it helped me in a number of ways and none of them were financial as I wasn't looking for funding.

Mainly it helped me focus on MY business to begin with. By writing my business plan I discovered more about what I want my business to be and that kind of focus is brilliant. It allows me to follow a path more actively. It wasn't easy to find the right words or even know what I wanted to say at first but then I realised that I could work up down or backwards through it if I wanted so I chose a section - for me it was my services and rates which once I checked them out and set my mind on something led me to the next section which for me was the market and I researched and researched and wrote drafts and collated information until I recited information about the current market for VA's in my sleep. Once I had narrowed down my target market from this I found that the rest of it seemed to start coming together. I didnt actually write my executive summary or company description until after I had completed some of the other sections.

Im also a great believer in a stream of conciousness. Don't think just write about your business until something starts making sense, it doesn't have to go into your business plan but sometimes it gets all the jumble out of your head and allows you to focus. Good Luck.
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Old 07-19-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
I have started my business plan, but put it on the back burner so that I could work on developing my website and forms. It did provide focus as to my goals, but I realize I need to get back to it before I move forward and really work on the marketing section. I really like the idea of adding a section about professional development. It is so important to keep learning in order for you and your business to grow.
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Old 07-27-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
Hi
I think its important to have a business plan.
It gives you long term goals and expectations.
Write an informal one for now and as your business grows you will no doubt refer back to it and formalize it.

Good luck
Mary
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Old 07-27-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
A business plan will help you to place your business in context and set some goals.

Here is a great link with free information and courses on setting up your business



http://myownbusiness.org/
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Old 07-27-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
I wrote a business plan before I started just to kinda give me a guide and I go back to it often, especially to make changes when I feel I may have left out something. The great thing about a business plan is that its not 'set in stone' because your business may have some changes along the way. This link worked for me. http://web.sba.gov/busplantemplate/BizPlanStart.cfm

Good luck!
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Old 07-28-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
I ended up getting the VA book on the forum for $29 but I just used that as a way to make a business plan and everything i needed.I did the contracts and all it came with in my own revised way and got the other forms that were missing off the forum and revised them. And that was it! This is all you need to get going and anything else are extras you can work on over time.I just have to finish my website . I say just get the book save a lot of time and let it guide you otherwise I found I was just all over the place.

I was able to do a Business Plan and Marketing , Information Packet, Client Quiestionare, Client Consultation, Contract Hourly and Retainer, Terms and Conditions-includes Confidentiality, Quickbooks Invoice, Time-tracking with Quickbooks, and Feedback Form.
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Old 07-29-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
I started my VA gig about 2 months ago and until now I am still in the dark... there are so many things to take in but I am trying my best to understand it...
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Old 07-29-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
A business plan isn't completely necessary for a small or independent business, but it's extremely helpful. For me, my business plan helps me to stay focused on my business and to stay on track. Looking at my short and long term goals also helps me to stay motivated when I feel discouraged or when I feel like I have too much on my plate. There are some great business plan templates and guides out there. It is completely overwhelming when you go to write it and then just stare at a blank page, but the templates and guides help tremendously.
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Old 08-29-2011
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Default Re: Do I really need a business plan?
A business plan is like a road map. Try not to be overwhelmed by writing a business plan by just focusing on one piece at a time. I would suggest starting with a one-page business plan. I found a good example here from Oprah.com:

http://images.oprah.com/download/pdf...consulting.pdf

My niche is in writing and editing so it took me about 2 weeks to write my business plan (with second and third sets of eyes to go over it). But a business plan is something that should evolve over time. It will need updates accordingly.
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