Writing a Business Plan for Your Home Business

Are you writing a business plan for you home business? Do you really need one?

Why writing a business plan for a home business? A home business like any other needs a road map to a new destination. If you do not use one, you will end up lost before you get to your destination.

Every business no matter how small it is, must a have a business plan. You may not need a “formal” business plan document but you definitely need a “business plan” for you home business.

A formal business plan is a very long detail document with about 80-100 pages. A home business may not need this kind of elaborate plan, but writing a business plan is not an option. It is critical for your business.

Writing a business plan for your home business plan is just your “strategic planning.” You want to cover at least four major elements: 1) Your home business description and elements, 2) Your marketing plan, 3) Your financial plan, 4)) Your operations plan

1) Your Home Business Description and Elements: This element covers what kind of business you are doing. Regardless of your home business of choice, at the very minimum, you need to have the following:

  • Why: What is your main purpose of having home business? If it is just money, you may want to reconsider. Any business has to be driven by some sort of desire besides the financial rewards. This desire will give you the self-motivation that you need to do it; otherwise, you are setting yourself up to fail.
  • What: What is your home business? What is your product or service? What is your focus?
  • When: When do you plan to do it? Do you plan to work every day for 2-3 hours or 10 hours a day? Did you notice I said every day?
  • Where: The location is probably your home, but where in your home. Do you have a designated space for it? Can you have everything you need available in this space?
  • How: how you are going to execute? Is your business a one-person show? Do you need an assistant or a particular tool? Who is involved in your business?

2) Your Home Business-Marketing Plan: When writing a business plan, marketing is crucial. At the beginning, you can do many things. In addition, there are many that you do not know and you are not familiar with, however, at the very least, plan what you know.

  • Do you need a website or a blog?
  • How do you plan to get clients? Do you need word of mouth referrals? Do you need friend’s referrals or other local business referrals?
  • What is your market? Who is your target audience? Age, gender, and location, are important elements.
  • What are you customer needs? What problem are you trying to solve for them?
  • Who is your competition? How can you be better than they can?

3) Your Financial Plan: Although there are many home businesses that do not need a lot of money to start, you do need some capital to start and some to maintain. Do you know how much that is? Can you afford to start a business? Are you banking in your business to produce and maintain itself right away? If the latter is the case, you may want to reconsider. It will be a shame to put many hours of work and count in income you are not sure is going to come.

4) Your Operations Plan: This is your initial description on you plan of action

  • List your priorities
  • List your short-term items and have a dateline
  • List your long-term items and have a dateline
  • List your daily actions
  • Schedule your daily actions and your priorities

Although many home businesses have started with nothing in place, most have fail for not having something in place from the start. Writing a business plan does not guarantee success but it does guarantee you clarity in what you want to do and how to accomplish it.

This plan is necessary to utilize during your road trip. You adjust as you go. You correct and continue. It may be in just 5 pieces of paper, but if you did your homework, may be that is all you need to start and become successful.

Business Planning for Women: Why Traditional Models Don’t Always Cater for Women in Business

An increasing number of women are starting small businesses.

The number of small businesses that are starting up with women at the helm is growing and 30% of business owners in the UK are women (Labour Force Survey 2003). The reasons women decide to start their own business vary, with most reporting that they want to be their own boss, choose their working hours and enjoy better work life balance.

However for many of these women the reality of running a small business does not live up to their expectations; it is difficult to fulfill their dreams for their business and they become disillusioned and overwhelmed with the ongoing struggle of running a small business alongside their other roles in life – mother, partner, friend, daughter, chef, chauffeur, socialite – the list goes on!

One area that has been identified as a significant factor limiting the success of women in business is a lack of business planning.

Many women entrepreneurs and small business owners fail to set aside the time to develop (and regularly re-visit) their business vision and strategy. As the old quote goes, ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. It is generally agreed that if you want your small business to succeed, you have a much greater chance if you have a clear vision and an action plan for bringing that vision about.

So what stops women who are starting a small business from developing an inspired and effective business plan?

After all, we know that we should have a business plan but despite the best of intentions to succeed in our business, many of us don’t! Why is this? What is it that stops us sitting down and writing a clear plan and strategy for our business, especially when we know that we are more likely to succeed if we do it?

We believe it is partly because writing a business plan is boring! Let’s face it, it feels like a chore so we don’t do it. We may get the resources together that we need, we may even get part of the way through writing it, but it is the rare few that actually complete a comprehensive business plan outlining a clear vision, strategy and action plan for their business. Often, we are chomping at the bit to get our product or service out into the world and figure we can simply skip the boring planning bit altogether right? We can certainly relate to this feeling because we struggled with business planning in the early days – we gave it a try but never seemed to get further than a few pages in!

It is our view that traditional models of business planning do not cater for women in business!

We believe that traditional models of business planning and strategizing don’t recognise that women in business have a life outside of work – that they have a partner, friends and family to think about and are not prepared to compromise on health and relationships to have a successful and profitable business. Women today want the best of both worlds; we think it is possible and that they deserve to have it!

Conventional business planning and management approaches are grounded in the belief that work and personal life should be kept separate, a task impossible for most women today. This makes it very difficult for them to create and sustain a business that acknowledges their business ambition AND empowers them to bring about great relationships and a healthy and balanced lifestyle for themselves and their loved ones.

So how can business planning be tailored to meet the needs of women in business?

Whether you are starting out in business or you are well-established, we encourage you to prioritise business planning in order to ensure a strategic approach to business growth and success.

  • Set aside the time and space to make this happen in your business now.
  • Acknowledge that traditional models of business planning may be a great starting point, but that they may not address your needs as a business woman who also values health, relationships and having a life outside of work.
  • Think outside the square and discover ways to plan your business that relieve stress rather than increase it. Look for tools that empower you to bring all aspects of yourself to the planning process – personal and professional – because the reality is that for women in business the two are intertwined and to be successful in one you must pay attention and care for the other!
  • Get creative in your approach – both to the process of business planning and also to the way you can incorporate the other aspects of your life into your successful business strategy.
  • Take action to implement your strategy so that it comes to life for you.
  • Commit to re-visiting with your business plan on an ongoing basis to ensure.

Business planning is vital to the success of your business, and can also encompass all the aspects of your life.

You do not have to sacrifice your health and relationships to be a successful business owner and entrepreneur. Take action now and plan for your success in business and in life.

Business Background Checks – The OTHER Background Check

The risk involved with hiring an employee is well understood, making pre-employment background checks a routine practice for most companies. Business background checks however, are far less commonplace; but why? Excluding small daily purchases and transactions with historically reputable companies, the level of trust you (or your company) extend to a corporation you chose to deal with can be extraordinary. Yet conducting background research on companies is rare in comparison with screening individuals.

Business background checks are complex because businesses play by a different set of rules. Realistically, you and I cannot drop our identity and start over when things go bad, our debts become too great, or our reputations become tarnished. Corporations can and often do. Along with completely dissolving a business or filing for bankruptcy, corporations may operate under alternative names known as “DBA’s” (Doing Business As), appear as local companies online, but physically exist overseas, or be registered as foreign corporations while soliciting business within your state. Proper screening requires a broad and extensive expertise. Fewer companies offer business screening for these reasons. As always, watch out for companies online claiming to instantly tell you everything about a company for a small fee along with a subscription to their database. There is no one size fits all method of conducting business background research and thorough results can and will not be instant.

Structure is Key!

The structure of a business background check is best determined by the purpose of the check and the level of risk. Here are just a few common needs for business background checks and sensible corresponding screening packages

Level One: Personal Consumer Protection

A basic business background check doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. A “level one” business background check can be performed in the area of $50. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of dealing with a company that you paid money to up front and never received a service, or had to repair a situation caused by bad service, the fee for a basic business background check will feel like the best money you’ve ever spent. As an example, a level one background check best corresponds to the following needs.You’re in the market to…

Hire a contractor.

Utilize a dog walking service.

Retain a babysitter or nanny through a service.

Move grandma into a retirement home.

A “Level One” screening package would generally answer the following questions.

Are they incorporated or registered with the state?

Have they been in business for a significant amount of time to have “expertise”?

Are they a DBA “Doing Business As” another name?

Are there unresolved complaints filed against them with the Better Business Bureau?

Have their past clients filed lawsuits against them for breach of contract or any other reasons?

Do they utilize criminal background checks on their own employees?

Level Two: Large Personal or Business to Business

Transaction.Maybe it’s property, machinery, equipment, vehicles, or even a timeshare. Whatever the case, you (or your company) will be entrusting this business with a large sum of money. A “Level Two” business background check would include the basic research of a “Level One” screening package and also go a few steps further. For example, we would seek to answer the following questions for our “Level Two” business background check:

Are they Incorporated or registered with the state?

Are they licensed and or Insured?

Have they been in business for a significant amount of time to have “expertise”?

Are they a DBA “Doing Business As” another name?

Possible additional searches on DBA’s discovered

Are there unresolved complaints filed against them with the Better Business Bureau?

Have their past clients filed lawsuits against them for breach of contract or other reasons?

Who are the principals of the company?

Have the principals of the company filed for bankruptcy multiple times?

Does the owner or principal have litigation against them from prior clients?

Does pending litigation or tax liens, suits, or other judgment put the owner/principal in a financially difficult situation? (You don’t want your money going to pay off other debts instead of paying for materials, labor, etc.)

Level Three: Business to Business Venture

Once your company joins forces with another company for a project, marketing campaign or other venture, their skeletons can potentially become yours. Their reputation can be reflected on you, and sometimes, their legal problems and can become your legal problems. A business to business venture is too significant not to invest in a thorough business background check. Once again, building on key parts of the “Level One” and “Level Two” business background checks, important research would include…

Are they incorporated or registered with the state?

Are they licensed and or Insured, and to what degree?

Have they been in business for a significant amount of time to have “expertise”?

Are they a DBA “Doing Business As” another name? (Possible additional searches on DBA’s discovered)

Are there unresolved complaints filed against them with the Better Business Bureau?

Have their past clients or business partners filed lawsuits against them for breach of contract or other reasons?

Who are the principals of the company?

Have the principals of the company filed for bankruptcy multiple times?

Does the owner or principal have litigation against them from prior clients?

Does pending litigation or tax liens, suits, or other judgment put the owner/principal in a financially difficult situation? (You don’t want your money going to pay off other debts instead of paying for materials, labor, services etc.)

Are the owners or principals involved with other corporations that would pose a conflict of interest?

Is this company as prosperous as claimed? (It’s not difficult or terribly expensive to make a professional looking website. What’s behind the website is what really matters.)

How long has the website existed?

How much traffic does their site receive?

Who links to them?

How much are they spending to market their website or product online?

What’s the reputation of the business online?

Who’s talking about them and what’s being said?

If no “buzz” is out there, why not?The examples could certainly go on. These basic packages can be modified for use in intellectual property research, business profiling for acquisition, “know your client” regulations in the financial industry and other specific needs. The bottom line is, spending roughly one percent of the “purchase price” or estimated cost of the transaction can save you exponentially over the cost and time of dealing with a irresponsible or deceptive business after the damage has been done. You’ll never regret proceeding with caution!

If you have questions on business background screening or would like additional information, please email [email protected] or call 888.578.8600 x113