The Inside-Out Business Plan? -- Your Small Business Plan in 10 Easy Questions

Writing a business plan for your Solo Entrepreneur business doesn't have to be a daunting project. If you can answer 10 straightforward questions about your business, you can be ready to go.

The key to success is to answer all of the questions in enough depth that if a friend asked you to invest in this business, you'd say yes. Most importantly, make sure you record your business plan somehow...whether you write it by hand, type it into your computer, or put it on stickie notes on your wall. Keep it someplace handy where you can refer to it when you are making important business decisions. And, make sure you review it monthly--or, even better, weekly--and update it at least annually.

1. Your Dreams: What do you want your business to provide for you? (think time, money, freedom, who you work with) Be specific--how much money, how many hours, when do you want to "retire".

2. Customers: Who are your customers and what do they want/need?

3. Products and Services: What products/services will you provide to meet customer's needs?

4. Markets: Where are your customers and what do you know about them as a group? "Where" might be geographic, it might be what kind of places they hang out, or where they go to find products or services like yours. What is their age, income, gender, hobbies, family structure, etc.

5. Your Style: How will you reach customers and what will you say? Your methods of reaching customers needs to match with where your customers are--and with a message that they can relate to.

6. Competitors: Where else are your customers likely to get this need met? Find out all you can about how your competitors price, market, and provide service.

7. Your Uniqueness: How will your product/service meet customer's needs differently than your competitors? Consider how your personal uniqueness impacts that.

8. Your Abilities: Of the skills necessary to run your business, what do you do well, and what do you need help with?

9. External Resources: What people/technology/services will support you in the skills you need help with?

10. Fulfilling your Dreams: How will your business provide the kind of working environment you desire, both in how much time you spend, how you perform your work, and how much money you make? Here's where the rubber meets the road--make sure you can show how you will sell X amount of product or service at Y price, cover your expenses, and reach the goals you set in 1. above.

Once you can answer all these questions, have it reviewed by some trusted, experienced professionals who will give you objective feedback. Consider a business coach, as one such resource!

Copyright 2004, Terri Zwierzynski - Accel Innovation, Inc.

_________

Terri Zwierzynski is a coach to small business owners and Solo Entrepreneurs. She is also the CEI (Conductor of Extraordinary Ideas) at Solo-E.com and the author of 136 Ways To Market Your Small Business. Terri is an MBA honors graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill. Terri has been coaching for over 10 years in a variety of settings, including 6 years as a senior-level coach and consultant for a Fortune 500 company. She opened her private coaching practice in 2001. You can reach Terri at http://www.TerriZ.com.

_________

***** Find more articles like this at http://www.Solo-E.com ? Keeping Solo Entrepreneurs Juiced in Business and in Life. Our team of Solo Entrepreneurs are comprised of small business experts who support others in finding business success with the flexibility and freedom to have a life, too. Network with other freelancers, self-employed and Solo Entrepreneurs in our forums, enjoy our articles and newsletter, and find other online training opportunities. *****

In The News:

VizyPay Launches RUSH Loyalty Program  Small Business Trends
Small businesses get boost at Bentonville market event  Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Small Business - Is The Accounting Profession Ripping Them Off?

My 16 year-old daughter said, "Gee Dad! You look just... Read More

Round Pegs In Round Holes: The Amazing Secret of Succeeding in Any Business Every Time!

Success is the desire of everyman on the face of... Read More

Australian Workplace Agreements - How They Work For You

The employer / employee relations environment has been constantly evolving... Read More

Smart PR Tactics for Small Businesses

Small businesses need Public Relations, possibly more than large corporations,... Read More

Wichita Kansas is a Great Place to Run a Business

We love Wichita because it has great all round weather... Read More

Starting A Concrete Cleaning Pressure Washer Business

Concrete cleaning can be a lucrative business to start. Here... Read More

Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Joining a Professional Association

I'll be the first to admit that I went a... Read More

How To Ruin Your Business

If you're like the rest of us, you've spent a... Read More

Sample; Territory Reduction Policy for a Franchise Company

I propose this thought on the subject of Franchisee territory... Read More

FTC Report on Franchise Rule Making; What Purpose?

The Federal Trade Commission out of the blue decide in... Read More

Do You Microbifer in Your Cleaning Business?

Microfiber cleaning towels have been around for about ten years... Read More

Implementing an Internship Program

CONSIDERING COMPANY NEEDS: In identifying your needs for the internship,... Read More

Looking for a New Office Chair?

Perhaps you are building a new home office or you... Read More

11 Things Small Business Owners Can Learn From Punxsutawney Phil

1. Look Over Your Shoulder ? Of course, Punxsutawney Phil... Read More

Aircraft Washing Service Operations Manual

Anyone who is serious about washing aircraft as a full... Read More

FTC Franchise Rule if Enacted will Trigger Hardship for Private Sector

The FTC Franchise Rule maybe changed, as the Federal trade... Read More

Mobile Detailing Environmental Concern in the Deep South

Macon, GA goes after garage-gas station conversion detail/hand car washes... Read More

Get Out Of The Rut And Back On the Track

Do you sometimes find yourself just going "through the motions"... Read More

The Number of Pages in the UFOC in Franchising is Still Growing Today

Today required franchise disclosure documents are over 200 pages generally.... Read More

13 Steps to Protect Yourself from Your Bank

The success of your business is critically dependent on how... Read More

Boston Market; Mobile Auto Detailing

Boston itself covers 50 square miles of concrete and traffic,... Read More

Employee Induction - Are you Inducting your People - A Practical How To

In today's fast paced marketplace it is easy to neglect... Read More

Is a Small Business Web Site a Wise Investment?

One of the greatest pitfalls in e-commerce is Field of... Read More

Top 10 Record Keeping Mistakes Business Owners Make (and How To Avoid Them)

If you interviewed business owners of failed businesses, a majority... Read More

Essex Accountant: Accountancy Firm MVP for Your UK Business?

Most business owners know when they need an accountant, but... Read More