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The follow sections will be required in your business plan: Introduction to Your Business Plan
Who are the promoters & what is their previous experience?
What is the proposal? Who are the personnel? When is the proposal launch timed for? What finance does the proposal require?
Main Body of Your Business Plan
Management of the Business
Who will be the directors/principal of the business? Who are the owners? Who are the senior management? What other staff are required? Have you considered staff contracts of employment? How will the directors/senior management/staff be paid? i.e. salary, bonuses,commissions, etc. What skills and experience will your staff require? Will you need to provide ongoing training for your staff? Have you considered government incentive schemes for employers?
Will you need periodic accounts or other information i.e.weekly/monthly/quarterly? To what extent will you computerise the operation? What personnel will be responsible for providing information? How reliable will the figures be? 1
What have the results been to date? Have you carried out sensitivity analysis?
Describe your product or service. What is the required quality of your product? Is there a range of products you wish to provide? What differentiates your products from your competitors? What is the pricing structure of the product(s)? How is this different from your competitors?
Does your product follow a production process? What are the worker & machinery requirements?
Have you considered the use of brands, patents, copyrights? What sort of image do you wish to project for your product? i.e. quality What image does your competition have? Do you have a logo for your product(s)? Do you know what business stationery you require and have you arranged to print this? Have you arranged for signs to be made for your business premises?
Have you decided on a name for your business? Does this name conflict with another on the business names register? If you are trading as a limited company has this been formed? Is your chosen company name on the company registration office register already?
Market Trends & Promotion
Have you done any market research for your business?
What are your target markets? Are there any new products coming onto your target market? What range of products are currently being provided on your target market? Have you considered the use of a marketing consultant? How will you present & promote your product on the market?
Who will be your main customers? What value of business would you anticipate from each of your main customers? Who are your contacts for each main customer? Who are your potential customers? How do you wish to attract new customers? Have you considered the use of internet business?
What are your main strengths in the market? What do you feel gives you a competitive edge?
Terms of Trade
Do you offer credit and what are your credit limits for your customers? What are your credit terms and how many days do customers have to settle your account? Do you have a debt collection policy to control your credit terms? Can you accept cash, cheque or credit card payments? What payment terms do you have with your suppliers? Do you offer discounts?
What is the quality required of the product supply? How reliable are your suppliers? How available are your supplies? What is the product you need supply of?
How will you distribute your product?
Advisors, Finance & Grants
Who are your advisors i.e. financial, legal, technical & marketing? What is your capacity to raise finance? Who are the potential investors in your business i.e. banks/credit unions/government agencies etc? Have you appointed an accountant/tax advisor? What assets/activities will the finance be used for? Have you opened a business bank account and arranged for authorised cheque signatories? What are going to be your main costs? What turnover do you require to break even? What grant aid is available for your business i.e. for capital expenditure, labour costs, business development, etc.
Have you considered the taxation framework for your business? Have you registered your business for VAT/PAYE/Business Tax? Have you considered the legal structure of your business i.e. sole trader/partnership or limited company? Have you considered the accounting system requirements for your business?
Health & Safety, Professional and Industry Standards
Have you considered the requirements of the health & safety at work legislation? Is your business aware of professional or industry standards and is it regulated in any way?
What square footage is required? Where do you wish to locate your business? What safety standards apply to your business? Have you considered government tax incentive schemes that may be available in certain geographical areas?
Are you going to buy or lease the property? Have you appointed solicitors? Have you arranged for utilities to be connected? Have you considered whether to lease or buy your equipment?
Have you considered the insurance cover for your business i.e. equipment, stock, premises, employers liability, public liability, loss of profits, etc?
What are your personal strengths and weaknesses? What opportunities are available should you take a certain course of action? What are the main threats to your business if you do not take the opportunities available? What contingencies have been provided for? On balance what is the case for investment?
List of main assumptions. Financial accounts (both historic and projected) Cashflow projections Sensitivity analysis Detail of premises Capital expenditure projections Staffing projections Management structure C.V.'s of key staff Schedule of grants
Preparing a Business Plan
Why Prepare a Plan?
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Business Concept Financial Plan Approaching Lenders Attracting Investors
Why Prepare a Plan?
The Business Plan is a written summary of what you hope to accomplish by being in business and how you intend to organize your resources to meet your goals. It is the road map for operating your business and measuring progress along the way. 1. The Business Plan identifies the amount of financing or outside investment required and when it is needed. 2. First impressions are important. A well-organized plan is essential for a lender or investor to assess your financing proposal and to assess you as a business manager. 3. By committing your plans to paper, your overall ability to manage the business will improve. You will be able to concentrate your efforts on the deviations from plan before conditions become critical. You will also have time to look ahead and avoid problems before they arise. 4. It encourages realism. 5. It helps you to identify your customers, your market area, your pricing strategy and the competitive conditions under which you must operate to succeed. This process often leads to the discovery of a competitive advantage or new opportunity as well as deficiencies in your plan. 6. Three or four hours spent each month updating your plan will save you time and money in the long run and may even save your business. Resolve now to make planning a part of your management style.
The format should start with an executive summary describing the highlights of the business plan. Even though your entire business is well described later on, a crisp, one or two page introduction helps to capture the immediate attention of the potential investor or lender.
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Company name (include address and phone number) Contact person (presenter's name and phone number) Paragraph about company (nature of business and market area) Securities offered to investors (preferred shares, common shares, debentures, etc.) Business loans sought (term loan, operating line of credit) Highlights of Business Plan (your project, competitive advantage and "bottom line" in a nutshell--preferably one page maximum)
This summary page is extremely important in capturing the reader's attention. Make sure it sells your idea so the reader will retain interest and continue reading
Table of Contents
Top of Page Section titles and page numbers (for easy reference)
The business concept identifies your market potential within your industry and outlines your action plan for the coming year. Make sure your stated business goals are compatible with your personal goals, your own management ability and family considerations. The heart of the Business Concept is your monthly sales forecast for the coming year. It is your statement of confidence in your marketing strategy and forms the basis for your cash flow forecast and projected income statement. The business concept contains an assessment of business risks and a contingency plan. We urge you to take the offensive and be your own devil's advocate. Being honest about your business risks and how you plan to deal with them is evidence of sound management.
Description of the Industry
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Industry outlook and growth potential (industry trends, new products and developments. State your sources of information) Markets and customers (size of total market, new requirements and market trends) Competitive companies (market share, strengths and weaknesses, profitability) National and economic trends (population shifts, consumer trends, relevant economic indicators)
Description of Business Venture
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Product(s) or service (pictures, drawings, characteristics, quality) Product protection/exclusive rights (patents, copyrights, trade marks, franchise rights) Target market (typical customers identified by groups, present buying patterns and average purchase in dollars, wants and needs) Competitive advantage of your business concept (your market niche, uniqueness, estimated market share) Business location and size (location(s) relative to market, size of premises)
Staff and equipment needed (overall requirement, capacity) Brief history (principals involved, development work done)
One year (specific goals, such as gross sales, profit margins, share of market, opening new store, plant or office, introducing new product, etc.) Over the longer term (return on investment, business net worth, sale of business)
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Sales strategy (commissioned sales staff, agents, sales objectives, target customers, sales tools, sales support) Distribution (direct to public, wholesale, retail, multiple outlets) Pricing (costing, mark-ups, margins, break-even) Promotion (media advertising, promotions, publicityappropriate to reach target market) Guarantees (product guarantees, service warranties) Tracking methods (method for confirming who your customers are and how they heard about you)
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Assumptions (one never has all the necessary information, so state all the assumptions made in developing the forecast) Monthly forecast for coming year (sales volume in units and dollars) Annual forecast for following 2-4 years (sales volume in dollars)
Note: The sales forecast is the starting point for your projected income statement and cash flow forecast in Part II
Production Plan (Manufacturing)
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Brief description of production process (don't be too technical) Physical plant requirements (building, utility requirements, expansion capability, layout) Machinery and equipment (new or used, lease or purchase, capacity) Raw materials (readily available, quality, sources) Inventory requirements (seasonal levels, turnover rates, method of control) Suppliers (volume discounts, multiple sources) Personnel required (full-time, part-time, skill level, availability, training required)
Cost of facilities, equipment and materials (estimates and quotations) Capital estimates (one time start-up or expansion capital required)
Production Plan S(Retail or Service)
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Purchasing plans (volume discounts, multiple sources, quality, price) Inventory system (seasonal variation, turnover rates, method of control) Space requirements (floor and office space, improvement required, expansion capability) Staff and equipment required (personnel by skill level, fixtures, office equipment)
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Legal form (proprietorship, partnership, corporation) Share distribution (list of principal shareholders) List of contracts and agreements in force (management contract, shareholder or partnership agreement, franchiser service agreement, service contract) Directors and officers (names and addresses and role in company) Background of key management personnel (brief resumes of active owners and key employees) Contract professionals/consultants (possible outside assistance in specialized or deficient areas) Organization chart (identify reporting relationships) Duties and responsibilities of key personnel (brief job descriptions--who is responsible for what?)
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Competitors' reaction (will competitors try to squeeze you out?) What if . . . list of critical external factors (identify effects of strikes, recession, new technology, weather, new competition, supplier problems, shifts in consumer demand) What if . . . list of critical internal factors (sales off by 30%, sales double, key manager quits, workers unionize) Dealing with risks (contingency plan to handle the most significant risks)
Steps to accomplish this year's goals (flow chart by month or by quarter of specific action to be taken and by whom) Checkpoints for measuring results (identify significant dates, sales levels, production levels as decision points)
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The financial plan outlines the level of present financing and identifies the financing sought. This section should be kept concise with supporting material supplied only when requested. The Financial Plan contains pro-forma financial forecasts. In carrying out your action plan for the coming year, these operating forecasts are your guide to business survival and profitability. Resolve now to refer to them often and, if circumstances dictate, re-work them as necessary. Before presenting your Business Plan to a lender or investor, review your financial statements with your accountant. This familiarity will increase your credibility and at the same time provide you with a good understanding of what the financial statements reveal about the viability of your business.
Previous years' balance sheets and income statements (include past 2-3 years if applicable)
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Opening balance sheet (for a new business only) Projected income statements (detailed operating forecast for next year of operation and less detailed forecast for following two years. Use sales forecast as starting point) Cash flow forecast (budget of cash inflow and outflow on a monthly basis for next year of operation)
For further guidance in this area, refer to " Preparing a Cash Flow Forecast".
Financing and Capitalization
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Term loan applied for (amount, term, when required) Purpose of term loan (attach detailed description of assets to be financed with cost quotations) Owners' equity (your level of commitment to the program) Summary of term loan requirements (for a particular project or for business as a whole)
Program Leasehold Improvements Equipment & Machinery Vehicles Start-up expenses Financing $30,000 Term loan $80,000 75,000 Owners' equity: 36,000 Founder's investment 48,000 12,000 $153,000 $153,000
*If the purpose of the Business Plan is to attract a new investor, further details would be given here concerning share participation, role in company, etc.
Line of credit applied for (new or increase, security offered) Maximum operating cash requirement (amount, timing--refer to cash flow forecast)
Present Financing (If Applicable)
Term loans outstanding (balance owing, repayment terms, purpose, security held) Current operating line of credit (amount, security held)
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Name of present lending institution (branch, type of accounts) Lawyer's name (include address and phone number) Accountant's name (include address and phone number)
The following documents may be requested by your banker or potential investor.
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Personal net worth statement (including personal property values, investments, cash, bank loans, charge accounts, mortgages, other liabilities. This will substantiate the value of your personal guarantee if required for security.) Letters of intent (potential orders, customer commitments, letters of support) List of inventory (type, age, value) List of leasehold improvements (description, when made) List of fixed assets (description, age, serial numbers) Price lists (to support cost estimates) Description of insurance coverage (insurance policies, amount of coverage) Accounts receivable summary (include aging schedule) Accounts payable summary (include schedule of payments) Copies of legal agreements (contracts, lease, franchise agreement, mortgage, debenture) Appraisals (property, equipment) Financial statements for associated companies (where appropriate)
Preparing a business plan will generate a lot of thought and a lot of paper! Keep in mind, however, that the final document is a summary of your planning process. You can always refer to your working papers later on to substantiate a particular point. Have your key employees and two or three impartial outsiders review the finished plan in detail. There may be something you overlooked or underemphasized. Also a critical review will be good preparation for your presentation to potential investors and lenders. Top of Page
When approaching any financial institution, you are effectively selling the merits of your business proposal. As in all sales, consider the needs of the other party.
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Ability to service the debt with sufficient surplus to cover contingencies (carry interest charges, eventually repay in full--cash flow forecast and projected income statement will show this) Track record/integrity (personal credit history, management ability as demonstrated in your Business Plan, company results) Your level of commitment (your equity in the business or cash investment in the particular asset being purchased) Secondary source of repayment (this includes security in the event of default and other sources of income--discuss this subject with your lawyer before submitting your proposal) Lead time (lender needs a reasonable time to assess your proposal--also, the loan may have to be referred to another level within the financial institution) Don't overdo it (be sensible with the amount of documentation you provide initially--for example, the Introductory Page, Summary and Financial Plan sections provide a good basic loan submission if the amount requested is small)
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Start first by approaching people you know, i.e. friends, bank, credit union or trust company manager, lawyer, accountant, doctor. They, in turn, may know of possible investors. If your business concept exhibits high growth potential, a second alternative is to approach a venture capital company. Either way, take a moment to consider the investor's needs which may differ from a lender's needs.
Your level of commitment (to be sure that you are sharing the risk) Share participation (investors may demand more equity than you are willing to give)
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Rate of return (investors are willing to take a high risk but expect a high rate of return, i.e. to double their money in 2-3 years) Involvement in key decisions (possibly as a Director or even an Officer of the company) Regular financial reporting (investors usually want to see tight financial controls in place and prompt financial reporting)
For further information on writing and creating a business plan, visit our S Interactive Business Planner (IBP). Top of Page
It is always said "If you Fail to Plan, you Plan to Fail" Success in business comes as a result of planning. You have to have a detailed, written plan that shows what the ultimate goal is, the reason for the goal, and each milestone that must be passed in order to reach your goal. A business plan is written definition of, and operational plan for achieving your goal. You need a complete but success tool in order to define your basic product, income objectives and specific operating procedures. YOU HAVE TO HAVE A BUSINESS PLAN to attract investors, obtain financing and hold onto the confidence of your creditors, particularly in times of cash flow shortages--in this instance, the amount of money you have on hand compared with the expenses that must be met. Aside from an overall directional policy for the production, sales effort and profit goals of your product--your basic "travel guide" to business success--the most important purpose your business plan will serve, will be the basis or foundation of any financial proposals you submit. Many entrepreneurs are under the mistaken impression that a business plan is the same as a financial proposal, or that a financial proposal constitutes a business plan. This is just a misunderstanding of the uses of these two separate and different business success aids. The business plan is a long range "map" to guide your business to the goal you've set for it. The plan details the what, why, where, how and when, of your business--the success planning of your company. Your financial proposal is a request for money based upon your business plan--your business history and objectives. Understand the differences. They are closely related, but they are not interchangeable. Writing and putting together a "winning" business plan takes study, research and time, so don't try to do it all in just one or two days. 13
The easiest way to start with a loose leaf notebook, plenty of paper, pencils, pencil sharpener, and several erasers. Once you get your mind "in gear" and begin thinking about your business plan, "10,000 thoughts and ideas per minute" will begin racing thru your mind...So, it's a good idea when you aren't actually working on your business plan, to carry a pocket notebook and jot down those business ideas as they come to you--ideas for sales promotion, recruiting distributors, and any other thoughts on how to operate and/or build your business. Later, when you're actually working on your business plan, you can take out this "idea notebook" evaluate your ideas, rework them, refine them, and integrate them into the overall "big picture" of your business plan. The best business plans for even the smallest businesses run 25 to 30 pages or more, so you'll need to "title" each page and arrange the different aspects of your business plan into "chapters." The format should pretty much run as follows: Title Page Statement of Purpose Table of Contents Business Description Market Analysis Competition Business Location Management Current Financial Records Explanation of Plans For Growth Projected Profit & Loss/Operating Figures Explanation of Financing for Growth Documentation Summary of Business & Outlook for The Future Listing of Business & personal References This is a logical organization of the information every business plan should cover. I'll explain each of these chapters titles in greater detail, but first, let me elaborate upon the reasons for proper organization of your business plan. Having a set of "questions to answer" about your business forces you to take an objective and critical look at your ideas. Putting it all down on paper allows you to change, erase and refine everything to function in the manner of a smoothly oiled machine. You'll be able to spot weakness and strengthen them before they develop into major problems. Overall, you'll be developing an operating manual for your business--a valuable tool which will keep your business on track, and guide you in the profitable management of your business. Because it's your idea, and your business, it's very important that YOU do the planning. This is YOUR business plan, so YOU develop it, and put it all down on paper just the way YOU want it to read. Seek out the advice of other people; talk with, listen to, and observe, other people running similar businesses; enlist the advice of your accountant and attorney--but at the bottom line, don't ever forget it has to be YOUR BUSINESS PLAN! Remember too, that statistics show the greatest causes of business failure to be poor management and lack of planning--without a plan by which to operate, no one can manage; and without a direction in which to aim its efforts, no business can attain any real success.
On the very first page, which is the title page, put down the name of your business-ABC ACTION--with your business address underneath. Now, skip a couple of lines, and write it all in capital letters: PRINCIPAL OWNER--followed by your name if you're the principal owner. On your finished report, you would want to center this information on the page, with the words "principal owner" off-set to the left about five spaces. Examples: ABC ACTION 1234 SW 5th Ave. Anywhere, USA 00000 PRINCIPAL OWNER: Your Name That's all you'll have on this page except the page number -1Following your title page is the page for your statement purpose. This should be a simple statement of your primary business function, such as: We are a service business engaged in the business of selling business success manuals and other information by mail. The title of the page should be in all capital letters across the top of the page, centered on your final draft--skip a few lines and write the statement of purpose. This should be direct, clear and short--never more than (2) sentences in length. Then you should skip a few lines, and from the left hand margin of the paper, write out a sub-heading in all capital letters, such as: EXPLANATION OF PURPOSE. From, and within this sub-heading you can briefly explain your statement of purpose, such as: Our surveys have found most entrepreneurs to be "sadly" lacking in basic information that will enable them to achieve success. This market is estimated at more than a 100 million persons, with at least half of these people actively "searching" for sources that provide the kind of information they want, and need. With our business, advertising and publishing experience, it is our goal to capture at least half of this market of information seekers, with our publication. MONEY MAKING MAGIC! Our market research indicates we can achieve this goal and realize a profit of $1,000,000 per year within the next 5 years... The above example is generally the way you should write your "explanation of purpose," and in subtle definition, why you need an explanation. Point to remember: Keep it short. Very few business purpose explanations justify more than a half page long. Next comes your table of contents page. Don't really worry about this until you've got the entire plan completed and ready for final typing. It's a good idea though, to list the subject (chapter titles) as I have, and then check off each one as you complete that part of your plan. By having a list of the points you want to cover, you'll also be able to skip around and work on each phase of your business plan as an idea or the interest in organizing that particular phase, stimulates you. In other words, you won't have to make your thinking or
your planning conform to the chronological order of the "chapters" of your business plan--another reason for the loose leaf notebook. In describing your business, it's best to begin where your statement purpose leaves off. Describe your product, the production process, who has responsibility for what, and most importantly, what makes your product or service unique--what gives it an edge in your market. You can briefly summarize your business beginnings, present position and potential for future success, as well. Next, describe the buyers you're trying to reach--why they need and want or will buy your product--and the results of any tests or surveys you may have conducted. Once you've defined your market, go on to explain how you intend to reach that market--how you'll these prospects to your product or service and induce them to buy. You might want to break this chapter down into sections such as..publicity and promotions, advertising plans, direct sales force, and dealer/distributor programs. Each section would then be an outline of your plans and policies. Moving into the next chapter on competition, identify who your competitors are--their weakness and strong points--explain how you intend to capitalize on those weaknesses and match or better the strong points. Talk to as many of your "indirect" competitors as possible--those operating in different cities and states. One of the easiest ways of gathering a lot of useful information about your competitors is by developing a series of survey questions and sending these questionnaires out to each of them. Later on, you might want to compile the answers to these questionnaires into some form of directory or report on this type of business. It's also advisable to contact the trade associations and publications serving your proposed type of business. For information on trade associations and specific trade publications, visit your public library, and after explaining what you want ask for the librarian's help. The chapter on management should be an elaboration on the people operating the business. Those people that actually run the business, their job, titles, duties, responsibilities and background resume's. It's important that you "paint" a strong picture of your top management people because the people coming to work for you or investing in your business, will be "investing in these people" as much as your product ideas. Individual tenacity, mature judgement under fire, and innovative problem-solving have "won over" more people than all the AAA Credit Ratings and astronomical sales figures put together. People becoming involved with any new venture want to know that the person in charge-the guy running the business knows what he's doing, will not lose his cool when problems arise, and has what it takes to make money for all of them> After showing the "muscle" of this person, go on to outline the other key positions within your business;
who the persons are you've selected to handle those jobs and the sources as well as availability of any help you might need. If you've been in business of any kind scale, the next chapter is a picture of your financial status--a review of your operating costs and income from the business to date. Generally, this is a listing of your profit & loss statements for the six months, plus copies of your business income tax records for each of the previous three years the business has been an entity. The chapter on the explanation of your plans for the future growth of your business is just that--an explanation of how you plan to keep your business growing--a detailed guide of what you're going to do, and how you're going to increase your profits. These plans should show your goals for the coming year, two years, and three years. By breaking your objectives down into annual milestones, your plan will be accepted as more realistic and be more understandable as a part of your ultimate success. Following this explanation, you'll need to itemize the projected cost and income figures of your three year plan. I'll take a lot of research, an undoubtedly a good deal of erasing, but it's very important that you list these figures based upon thorough investigation. You may have to adjust some of your plans downward, but once you've got these two chapters on paper, your whole business plan will fall into line and begin to make sense. You'll have a precise "map" of where you're headed, how much it's going to cost, when you can expect to start making money, and how much. Now that you know where you're going, how much it's going to cost and how long it's going to be before you begin to recoup your investment, you're ready to talk about how and where you're going to get the money to finance your journey. Unless you're independently wealthy, you'll want to use this chapter to list the possibilities and alternatives. Make a list of friends you can approach, and perhaps induce to put up some money as silent partners. Make a list of those people you might be able to sell as stockholders in your company--in many cases you can sell up to $300,000 worth of stock on a "private issue" basis without filing papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Check with a corporate or tax attorney in your area for more details. Make a list of relatives and friends that might help you with an outright loan to furnish money for the development of your business. Then search out and make a list of venture capital organizations. Visit the Small Business Administration office in your area--pick up the loan application papers they have--read them, study them, and even fill them out on a preliminary basis--and finally, check the costs, determine which business publications would be best to advertise in, if you were to advertise for a partner or investor, and write an ad you'd want to use if you did decide to advertise for monetary help. With listing of all the options available to your needs, all that's left is the arranging of these options in the order you would want to use them when the time come to ask for money. When you're researching these money sources, you'll save time by noting the
"contact" deal with when you want money, and whenever possible, by developing a working relationship with these people. If your documentation section, you should have a credit report on yourself. Use the Yellow Pages or check at the credit department in your bank for the nearest credit reporting office. When you get your credit report, look it over and take whatever steps are necessary to eliminate any negative comments. Once these have been taken care of, ask for a revised copy of your report and include a copy of that in your business plan. If you own any patents or copyrights, include copies of these. Any licenses to use someone else's patent or copyright should also be included. If you own the distribution, wholesale or exclusive sales rights to a product, include copies of this documentation. You should also include copies of any leases, special agreements or other legal papers that might be pertinent to your business. In conclusion, write out a brief, overall summary of your business- when the business was started, the purpose of the business, what makes your business different, how you're going to gain a profitable share of the market, and your expected success during the coming 5 years.. The last page of your business plan is a "courtesy page" listing the names, addresses and phone numbers of personal and business references--persons who have known you closely for the past five years or longer--and companies or firms you've had business or credit dealings with during the past five years. And, that's it--your complete business plan. Before you send it out for formal typing, read it over once a day for a week or ten days. Take care of any changes or corrections, and then have it reviewed by an attorney and then, an accountant. It would also be a good idea to have it reviewed by a business consultant serving the business community to which your business will be related. After these reviews, and any last-minute changes you want to make, I'll be ready for formal typing. Type and print the entire plan on ordinary white bond paper. Make sure you proof-read it against the original. Check for any corrections and typographical errors--then one more time--read it through for clarity and the perfection you want of it. Now you're ready to have it printed and published for whatever use you have planned for it--distribution amongst your partners or stockholders as the business plan for putting together a winning financial proposal, or as a business operating manual. Take it to a quality printer in your area, and have three copies printed. Don't settle for photo-copying..Have it printed! Photo-copying leaves a slight film on the paper, and will detract from the overall professionalism of your business plan, when presented to someone you're trying to
impress. So, after going to all this work to put together properly, go all the way and have it duplicated properly. Next, stop by a stationery store, variety store or even a dime store, and pick up an ordinary, inexpensive bind-in theme cover for each copy of your business plan. Have the holes punched in the pages of your business report to fit these binders and then slip each copy into a binder of its own. Now, you can relax, take a break and feel good about yourself..You have a complete and detailed business plan with which to operate a successful business of your own. A plan you can use as a basis for any financing proposal you may want to submit..And a precise road-map for the attainment of real success... You just complete one of the important steps to fulfill of all your dreams of success. --------------------------------------------------------Julia Tang publishes Smart Online Business Tips, a fresh and informative newsletter dedicated to supporting people like you! To find out the best online business opportunities, and to discover hundreds more proven and practical internet marketing secrets, plus FREE internet marketing products worth over $200, visit: http://www.best-internet-businesses.com ---------------------------------------------------------How to write a business proposal
May 20 2005 Writing a business plan or proposal is a difficult but vital skill for anyone starting up, with many issues to consider and include. Alan Gleeson, managing director of Palo Alto, offers the following tips. 1. Write from the audience’s perspective. The starting point for any business plan should be to look at it from the perspective of the audience. What is the purpose of the plan? Is it to secure funding? Is it to communicate the future plans for the company? The writer should tailor the plan for different audiences, as they will each have specific requirements. 2. Research the market thoroughly You should undertake market research and ensure the plan includes reference to the market size, its predicted growth path and how to gain access to this market. 3. Understand the competition How competitive is the market? How are the incumbents competing; is there a price leader evident? Can you compete effectively with the existing players? All this is vital in your plan. 4. Attention to detail Make the plan concise, but include enough detail to ensure the audience has sufficient information to make informed decisions. The plan should be professional, with realistic assumptions, credible projections, accurate content, presented appropriately and with no spelling mistakes. 5. Focus on the opportunity If you are seeking investment in your business, it is important to clearly describe the investment opportunity. What is your unique selling point (USP)? 6. Ensure all key areas are covered in the plan Include sections on your company’s product/service, market, competition, management team, marketing, operations and financials. 7. Do the maths
Costs should be documented in full and sales predictions should be both conservative and realistic. If you are not particularly comfortable with numbers, have someone assist you in preparing a simple cashflow and breakeven chart. 8. Executive summary Arguably the most important component of the plan is the executive summary. This is a summary of the entire plan and is usually positioned at the start. If investors like it, they will read on, if not they will go no further. It should be written at the very end of the business planning process and should have a ‘wow factor’ that entices them to read further. In tandem with this, the writer should also prepare a short ‘elevator pitch’, a five-minute overview of the key benefits of the new product/service. 9. Review process Once you have completed your plan, have it independently reviewed. Select someone detached from the process who can offer constructive criticism on all aspects of the plan. 10. Implement the plan A plan should always be viewed as a living document and contain specifics regarding dates, deadlines and specific responsibilities. It should be constantly reviewed and updated, as well as being used in regular ‘plan versus actual’ discussions. A winning business plan will help ensure you are fully focused on what is required to achieve the company’s goals.
How To Prepare a Business Plan
Success in business comes as a result of planning. You must have a detailed, written plan that states your ultimate goal, the purpose behind your goal, and each milestone that must be passed in order to reach your destination. A business plan is a written definition and series of operational instructions for achieving your goal. This list of instructions will form a complete business tool with which to define your basic product, income objectives, and specific operating procedures. You must have a business plan if you hope to attract investors, obtain financing, or preserve the confidence of your creditors. Your plan for business success will serve as the background information and supporting details of any financial proposals you submit to lenders, creditors, or investors. Many entrepreneurs are under the mistaken impression that a business plan is the same as a financial proposal, or thata financial proposal constitutes a complete business plan. This is a misunderstanding of these two separate and different business success aids. Let's describe the difference between them. The business plan can be considered a longrange map to guide your business toward the goals you've set. This plan details the what, why, where, how, and when of your business the steps to ultimate success for your company. Your financial proposal is a request for money based upon your business plan. It describes your business history and objectives, recounting those details that make you an especially attractive investment for a creditor. The financial proposal draws information from the complete business plan to develop an attractive offer to the investor. Understand the differences between these two important terms. They are closely related, but are not interchangeable. Writing and putting together a winning business plan takes study, research, and time. Don't try to do it all in one or two days. The easiest way to begin your plan is with a loose
leaf notebook, plenty of paper, pencils, apencil sharpener, and several erasers. For your first session, choose a quiet place to work, away from the distraction of ringing telephones, the interruptions of others, and the incessant droning of the television set. Focus your thoughts on your business your hopes, dreams, and ambitions. Let your mind race through the myriad of possibilities that you could accomplish given the capital investment, personnel, location, etc. Jot all these ideas, thoughts, questions, etc. on the paper in your notebook. Over the course of the next several days, it will be a good idea to carry a pocket notebook and jot down those business ideas as they come to you ideas for sales promotion, recruiting distributors, and any other thoughts on how to operate and build your business. Later, when you actually sit down again and begin working on your business plan, you can compile all your notes by category financing, sales, distribution, advertising, etc. Then evaluate your ideas, rework them, refine them, and integrate them into the overall picture of your business plan. Title a separate page with each subject area of your plan and describe each thoroughly. The subjects must identify your present position, present your ultimate goal in clear, concise language; include a stepbystep description of how you will proceed; and have a specific date set for the attainment of the particular goal. Developing a set of questions to answer about your business forces you to take an objective and critical look at your ideas. Putting it all down on paper allows you to change, remove, and refine everything into a form that will best meet your needs. You'll be able to spot weaknesses and strengthen them before they develop into major problems. Overall, you'll be developing an operating manual for your business a valuable tool which will keep your business on track and guide you in its profitable management. Because the plan contains your ideas for your business, it's very important that you do the planning. You must be the one to develop the plan and put it all down on paper just the way it should read. Seek out the advice of other people. Talk with, listen to, and observe others who are operating similar businesses. Enlist the advice of your accountant and attorney. At the bottom line, however, don't ever forget that this must be your business plan! Statistics show the greatest causes of business failures are poor management and lack of operational planning. No one will ever succeed without a clearcut knowledge of where to focus their attentions. The best business plans for even the smallest of businesses run twentyfiveto thirty pages or more. The suggested outline below is a logical organization of the information every business plan should cover, and should serve as guide for the development of your own plan: * Title Page * Statement of Purpose * Table of Contents
* Business Description * Market Analysis * Competition * Business Location * Management * Current Financial Records * Explanation of Plans For Growth * Projected Profit, Loss, and Operating Figures * Explanation of Financing for Growth * Documentation * Summary of Business & Outlook for The Future * Listing of Business & Personal References On the very first page of your plan, the title page, place the name of your business with the business address underneath. Skip a couple of lines andwrite in all capital letters: PRINCIPAL OWNER followed by your name (if you're the principal owner). For example: ABC ACTION 1234 SW 5th Avenue, Anytown, USA 12345 PRINCIPAL OWNER: Jack Jones That's all you'll have on that page except the page number. Following the title page will be your "Statement of Purpose." The page title should be in all capital letters, centered across the top of the page. Skip a few lines and write the statement of purpose. This should be a simple sentence or two summarizing your primary business function, such as: "We are a service business engaged in the direct marketing of business success manuals, books, audio cassettes, and other information by mail." Make the statement direct, clear, and concise. Next, skip several lines and flush with the left hand margin of the paper write out a subheading in all capital letters, such as: EXPLANATION OF PURPOSE. Beneath this subheading briefly explain your statement of purpose. Keep your Explanation of Purpose" short - no longer than one paragraph. Very few business purpose explanations are justifiably more than a half page long. Example: "Our surveys have found most entrepreneurs to be sadly lacking in basic information that will enable them to achieve success. This market is estimated at more than 25 million, with at least half of these actively seeking sources that provide the information they need and want.
Combining our business, advertising, and publishing experience, it is our goal to capture at least half of this market of information seekers by utilizing our publication Entrepreneurs' Reports. Our market research indicates we can achieve this goal and realize a profit of $1,000,000 per year within the next five years." Now you will present the "Table of Contents." Don't really worry about this one until you've got the entire plan completed and ready for final typing. It's a good idea, however, to list the subjects (chapter titles) as we have above, and to check off each one as you complete that portion of your plan. By having a list of the points you want to cover, you'll be able to move around and work on each phase of your business plan as the ideas or interest in organizing that particular phase stimulate you. Thus, you won't have to make your thinking or your planning conform to the chronological order of the individual chapters of your business plan. Your "Business Description" will begin where your "Statement of Purpose" leaves off. Describe your product, the production or procurement process,who has responsibility for what division of the work, and, most importantly, what makes your product or service unique and gives it an edge in your market. You can also briefly summarize your business beginnings, present position, and potential for future success. Next, your "Market Analysis" will describe the buyers you're trying to reach, why they need, want, or will buy your product, and the results of any tests or surveys you may have conducted. Once you've defined the market, go on to explain how you intend to reach the buyers how you'll alert these prospects to your product or service and induce them to buy. You might want to break this chapter down into sections such as "Publicity and Promotions," "Advertising Plans," "Direct Sales Force," and "Dealer / Distributor Programs." Each section would then be an outline of your plans and policies for that subject area. The chapter on "Competition" will identify who your competitors are, their weaknesses, and strong points. Explain how you intend to capitalize on those weaknesses and match or better their strong points. Talk with as many of your indirect competitors as possible those operating in different cities and states. One of the easiest ways of gathering a lot of useful information about your competitors is by developing a series of survey questions and sending these questionnaires out to each of them. As they respond you will be able to develop a perspective on the market forces aligned against you. As an indirect result, you will later be able to compile the answers to these questionnaires into some form of directory or report on this business that you can sell. It is advisable to contact the trade associations and publications serving your proposed type of business. For information on these associations and specific publications, visit your public library. Ask for the librarian's help, explaining exactly what you are seeking. Reading through the available publications in the field will give you an idea of what additional sales angles your company can take to reach an increased share of the market.
The chapter entitled "Business Location" simply states the present location of your business, the size of the operating area, number of offices, floor plans or designs, types of furnishings, machinery, tools or materialsnecessary for operation, proposed expansion plans, possible sites for building new headquarters, and future possibilities for growth in present location. This chapter will help you determine if the available space of your present location will satisfy your future needs or if a move to adifferent location will be necessary. "Management" should be a description of the necessary jobs for successful operation of your business. Describe the management hierarchy that actually runs the business, names of individuals, their job titles, duties, responsibilities, and include a resume for each. It's important that you paint a strong picture of your top management because the people coming to work for you or investing in your business will be investing their time, money, and lives in these individuals as much as in your product ideas. The individual tenacity, mature judgment under fire, and innovative problem solving characteristics of good managers have won over more peoplethan all the AAA Credit Ratings and astronomical sales figures put together. People becoming involved with any new venture want to know that the person in charge knows what he's doing, will not lose his cool when problems arise, and has what it takes to make money for all involved. After demonstrating the strengths of the top person, go on to outline in descending order the other key positions within your business. If you've been in business for a while, the next chapter, "Current Financial Records," is a picture of your current financial status and a review of your operating costs and income from the beginning of the business to the present date. Generally, this is a listing of your profit and loss statements for the past six months, plus copies of your business income tax records foreach of the previous three years the business has been an entity. Entitled "Explanation of Plans For Growth," Chapter Nine is simply an explanation of how you plan to keep your business growing a detailed guideof precisely what you're going to do and how you're going to increase your profits. These plans should show your goals for periods covering the comingyear, the next two years, and a complete three year cycle. By breaking your objectives down into annual milestones, your plans will be accepted as more realistic and will be more understandable as a part of your ultimate success. Next, itemize the projected cost and income figures of your three year plan in the chapter "Projected Profit, Loss, and Operating Figures." It will take a lot of research (and most likely a good deal of writing, editing, and rewriting), but it's very important that you list these figures based upon thorough investigation. You may have to adjust some of your plans downward, but once you've got these two chapters on paper, your complete business plan will fall into line and begin to make sense. You'll have a precise map of where you're headed, how much it's going to cost, when you can expect to start making money, and what percentage you can expect that profit to be. Now that you know where you're going, how much it's going to cost and howlong it's going to be before you begin
to recoup your investment, you're ready to talk about how and where you're going to get the money to financeyour journey. Title this chapter "Explanation of Financing for Growth."Unless you're independently wealthy, you'll want to use this chapter to listthe possibilities and alternatives of future financing. Make a list of possible investors you can approach and induce to put up some money as silent partners. Compile a prospect sheet of those people you might be able to sell as stockholders in your company. In many cases, a company can sell up to $300,000 worth of stock on a private issue basis without filing papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Check with your corporate or tax attorney for more details. To further prepare for future financial needs, this chapter may also contain a list of relatives and friends who might help you with a noncollateralized loan for the development of your business. Next, search out and identify possible venture capital organizations that will lend money to a businesssuch as yours. Visit the Small Business Administration office in your areaand pick up the application papers for an SBA loan. Read and study them carefully, even fill them out on a preliminary basis then compare the costs on such a loan with other sources of financing. Determine in which business publications your advertising would be best displayed if you were seeking a partner or investor. Write an example of the ad you'd want to use if you did decide to advertise for monetary help. With a listing of all the options available to meet your needs, all that's left is to arrange these options in the order you would follow when the time came to seek additional capital. While you're researching these money sources, you'll save time by noting the name of the contact person to deal with when you want money. If possible, develop a working relationship with these resources in advance.In your "Documentation" chapter place a copy of all legal papers relative to your business. You should include a credit report on yourself. Use the yellow pages or check at the credit department in your bank for the nearest credit reporting office. When you get your credit report, look it over and take whatever steps are necessary to eliminate any negative comments. Once these have been taken care of, ask for a revised copy of your report to include in your plan. This will help insure potential investors of your credit worthiness. If you own any patents or copyrights be sure to include copies of these in the chapter. Any licenses to use someone else's patent or copyright should also be included. If you own the distribution, wholesale, or exclusive sales rights to a product, include copies of this information as well. You should also place copies of any state county, or city business licenses, all leases, special agreements, or other legal papers that might be pertinent to your business. In conclusion, write out a brief, overall summary of your business. Entitled "Summary of Business and Outlook for The Future," include in this chapter asummation of each of the preceding chapters. Briefly recap when the businesswas started, the purpose of the business, what makes your businessdifferent, how you're going to gain a profitable share of the market, andyour expected success during the coming five years. The last page of your business plan is a courtesy page listing the names,addresses, and telephone numbers of personal and business references persons who've known you closely for the past five years or longer, and companies orfirms you've had business or credit dealings with during the same period. This will provide resources with whom
potential investors or creditors can check to verify your financial statements and personal integrity. That's it: your complete business plan. Before you have a final draft typedout, read the entire plan over once a day for a week or ten days. Make any changes or corrections to the plan, rewrite portions that seem unclear orweak. Finally, have each chapter reviewed by an attorney and an accountant. It would also be a good idea to have it reviewed by a business consultant serving your business field. After these reviews and any last minute changes, the report will be ready for its final typing. Hire a professional typist or word processor to type the entire plan on ordinary white bond paper. Make sure you proofread it against the original. Check for and correct any typographical errors, then reread it through for clarity and the perfection you desire. Now you're ready to have it printed and published for whatever use you have planned: for distribution to your partners or stockholders, as the business plan for putting together a winning financial proposal, or as a business operating manual. Take it to a quality printer in your area and have three copies prepared. If it was typeset on a computer, print your copies on a laser printer for greater clarity. Have a copy professionally bound if you wish, place one in a file for safe keeping and as a master from which to make any future copies, and one to use to periodically reassess your goals or use as a daily and weekly guide to business operation. Make the plan as useful a tool as possible for complete business success. Now you can relax, take a break, and feel good about yourself. You have a complete and detailed business plan with which to operate a successful business of your own. You have developed a plan you can use as the basis for any financing proposal you may want to submit. You have formulated a precise roadmap for the attainment of real success, marking out the milestones to pass on the way. Congratulations. Best wishes for the total fulfillment of all your hopes, dreams, and ambitions!
Introduction America is coming home to work. Home-based offices are becoming the wave of the future. Tens of thousands of workers are opting for this new way of life, a life in which they can make their own hours, commute to work in seconds, make their own choices and become their own bosses. For many, the home office is becoming the location for a full-time job and the primary source of income. For others it is a part-time venture. Many start on a part-time basis and grow their business into a full-time operation. Current figures available indicate that during 1991, the percentage of self-employed working from home jumped by almost 6% to approximately 12 million. While working at home has an almost irresistible appeal to many, and many have some big misconceptions
of what it is like, here is some very useful information that can help you get started successfully.Legalities of Working at Home Zoning Before setting up your new business, it would be advisable to check on the legal status of your business. You need to check zoning laws for your community which may dictate if you can legally operate a business from home. We realize that many businesses never check on zoning for their home-based business and chances that they will ever get into difficulties with the law are probably pretty slim. If there are no changes in structure and you do not have customers and or employees enter your home, regulations will tend to be far easier. Laws and regulations change from community to community, but the following 5 items will generally be regulated: 1. Separate business and private entrances. 2. Square footage of the home which is taken up by commercial space. 3. Employees working in the home. 4. Certain occupations such as jewelry or clothing manufacturing. 5. Storage of commercial goods, especially any hazardous materials. Here is an important suggestion: Keep relations with your neighbors on a friendly basis. Your neighbors will soon become aware that you are working at home. Some may even be envious, and yes, unfortunately zoning authorities will generally becomeaware of home office zoning infractions through a "friendly neighbor". Business License Most cities or counties require businesses to be licensed. Some home-operated businesses, however, are not required to have a business license. Check with your local City or County Clerks Office to obtain regulations for your locality. D.B.A. Registration If you are using your own name as your business name it will not need to be registered, but if you use any other name, or even your abbreviated name, almost all localities require that you register the name. This is called a fictitious name registration or D.B.A "Doing Business As" registration. If your names is: Randy M. Jones and you name your business Randy Jones or Randy M. Jones Enterprise you will not have to register it, but if you call it RMJ Enterprises, you will generally have to register the name.
Most states have a name search bureau which is a part of the state government. You will generally be able to call this office to see if a given name has already been registered to someone else in the state. This is important to do, or it could be costly later. If you give your business a name which is already registered to another company, the other company may demand, and even take legal action, to make sure you comply, that you cease to use the name. Your Company as a Legal Entity Businesses are most commonly set-up as one of the following entities: The Sole Proprietorship Incorporation Partnership Most new businesses are Sole Proprietorships. It is the least complicated. It requires no paperwork. The proprietor, you or you and your spouse as the owner, or owners, are taxed for all net profit from your business. You add the income of the business to other income, or deduct the business loss from other income. Your tax adviser can give youspecific information.The disadvantage of the Sole Proprietorship is that as the owner you can be held fully liable in a lawsuit. An Incorporation, on the other hand, will give you some protection. In this case the "INC" rather than you is the legal business entity. If you are starting a business that tends to have liability exposure the, corporation may be the way to go. In this and other legal questions, only your attorney can give you competent legal advice. Partnerships are generally chosen when unrelated individuals own a business. A partnership should be set up by an attorney, or all kinds of problems can develop later. Designing Your Work-space First, you must determine how much space you need. Chances are what you may initially think is quite large may be crowded or not enough space. While many businesses are started from a corner of the bedroom or kitchen, if the space is available it would be a far better idea to take a spare area of the house and convert it into your office. There may be space in the basement, garage, or a spare bedroom. Having a separate space is more efficient and will make for maximum efficiency. It is also psychologically important. You do not want home activities to interfere with your business, or vice versa. Friends and family will need to be told politely but firmly that business hours mean business and dropping in, or calling to chit chat is not acceptable. Psychologists suggest that you work "from" home not just in your home. There is a danger of becoming isolated. In as much as time allows, participate in seminars and local business activities and organizations. Financial Planning
It is said, and also my own personal experience, that owners of new businesses never have enough time or money. The majority of small businesses which do not succeed will fail because they are not properly financed. In your financial planning, carefully review all required start-up expenses as well as on-going expenses before revenue will be generated. Estimate your profit margins and all fixed and controllable expenses. Almost all entrepreneurs will tend to be much more optimistic about their estimate of the financial performance of a business than what is necessarily realistic. There are always unforseen expenses. It is a good idea to only invest in absolutely necessary expenses. This applies to furnishings, supplies and all equipment. Computer equipment in recent years has become outdated within a short period of time. So, if what you acquire will serve you well for 2-3 years you will be able to upgrade your equipment later on. Your emphasis should be on conserving capital. As your business develops, unexpected hurdles will come along and periods of low revenue. Your capital will make it possible to keep your business operating during these times. Why Should You Have A Business Plan? While writing a business plan can be made into a highly sophisticated undertaking especially by large corporations, it is easy to do when done for a new or small owner operated-business. Essentially, you will be committing your plans to paper. As you do so, your thoughts will become more formal and concrete and this will tremendously assist you in the development of your business. If you are considering obtaining financing for your new business either through a bank or the SBA, a formal business plan will be a necessity. Home-operated businesses have a much more difficult time obtaining financing that businesses outside the home. Don't Forget Uncle Sam As in all undertakings of life from birth to death and beyond, the IRS will be there to watch over you. Almost all small, home-based businesses will start out as "Sole Proprietorships." This legal status is best for ease of handling and for tax benefits. Your net business income or loss becomes an addition or deduction to other income you declare at the end of the year. Careful record-keeping of all business revenue and expenses is a must. Keep a separate business checking account for your business. Do not intermingle business and personal expenses. Other special tax benefits and regulations apply to home-operated businesses. You should obtain professional advise from your tax adviser. Free Publications available: "Record-Keeping For A Small Business" IRS publication 583. Call the IRS 1-800829-3676.
"Business Use Of Your Home" can also be obtained free from the IRS. "Tax Guide For Small Business" is an annual IRS publication, #334. It is also free. Insurance One disadvantage of being self-employed is not having health and disability insurance. You may also need liability insurance. Your homeowners insurance covers your belongings in your home, but it may not cover all business inventory and equipment. Check with your insurance agent to make sure you have the right coverage. Factors that will Determine Your Success [related books] Do Your Homework The more you know about your business, the better your chances of success. Attend seminars and join trade associations. Read books and trade publications. If you do not have a business background a business introductory class at a local college would be advisable. Planning is Key to Your Success You and your family's future and livelihood are at stake. So your decision and planning to start a business are a very serious matter. Establish a long range plan which encompasses your business and financial plans. You should obtain legal or financial advice from an attorney or accountant before committing to any long range or major financial transactions. Agreements with suppliers or customers should be put into writing. You Must Wear Many Hats Small business owners over time can become experts on a variety of subjects. At the start the most important aspect is the development of your business so you have to acquire a marketing mind-set. Your communication to the rest of the world through all available means will determine your success. Here is an abbreviated marketing check list: Telephone equipment Promotional Material Advertising (Don't forge the Yellow Pages) Stationery Direct Mail Membership in Organizations Direct Sales Invest in Good Equipment
The right equipment will make your work easier and your business more efficient. To conserve cash, used equipment should also be considered. So What Are Your Chances The better you think they are, the better they generally are, and don't forget that among thousands of others: Apple Computer, Domino's Pizza, and Walt Disney all started as home-based businesses. Resources/Associations There is a great deal of expert advice and resource material available to you. Much of it is free of charge. A variety of literature is available, both excellent books on all business subjects and various magazines. Your local Chamber of Commerce often sponsors classes. Banks can give you advice, or can be used as a sounding board. Local schools offer a variety of classes of interest to business owners. Don't forget the Public Library. Last, but not least, don't forget the U.S. Government. SBA (Small Business Administration) offers a range of services such as loans, financial consulting, computer and technical consulting services and a variety of publications. Check your local telephone pages, or contact: Small Business Administration 1441 L Street NW Washington, DC 20416 (202) 659-6000 United States Chamber of Commerce provides literature, telephone referrals and other services to small businesses. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce or: United States Chambers of Commerce 1615 H Street NW Washington, DC 20062 (202) 659-6000 Internal Revenue Service offers a variety of services which includes workshops, films and publications to clarify tax matters for small businesses. Contact your local IRS office or: Education Branch, Taxpayer Service Division IRS, Department of the Treasury 1111 Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, D.C 20274 1-800-424-1040 Better Business Bureau (BBB) The BBB can be an important ally in checking on potential suppliers and other businesses. Check for telephone listing in the city where the company you are checking on is located.
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