Archive for

7 Steps to Writing an Effective One-Page Business Plan

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be boring or complicated.

And it certainly doesn’t have to be long.

In fact, the longer your business plan, the less likely you will use it.

A business plan is meant to be used. It’s meant for you to make use of and revisit often. It’s not something you create once and store in some remote part of your hard drive.

If you have been avoiding creating a business plan because you find it overwhelming, tedious and time consuming, then I want to introduce you to the simple 7 steps to writing a business plan on a single page.

Yes, a one-page business plan.

Writing your business plan on a single page can be much less daunting and something you can easily use and modify as needed.

It’s a much more efficient and faster way of writing a business plan – one that you will actually use – and won’t take a lot of time or effort on your part as a traditional business plan.

So don’t waste too much time starting a business plan, and start with the following 7-step plan to developing a business plan from scratch for your online business.

Step 1: Know Your Target Audience

If you’re going to create a product or service that people want to buy, then you’re going to have to first understand the needs of your customer – their fears, frustrations, challenges and desires.

If your customer doesn’t have a need for your product, then there is no point in creating it in the first place.

But that is exactly what many aspiring entrepreneurs will do. They will often spend months and sometimes even years developing a product or service that no one has any interesting in buying. This is probably the most inefficient way to create a sustainable business that will create real results.

Instead, it’s better to get input and feedback from your customer while developing your product.

First ask at least 5-10 prospective customers or clients what challenges they are facing and if they have a need for your solution. If not, keep digging deeper until you have something they might be interested in buying.

Armed with this knowledge you will find it much easier to develop your solution.

Step 1b: Create an Ideal Customer Profile

You probably already know the importance of demographics (age, gender, location, etc.), but what many entrepreneurs often overlook are factors like customer interests, buying behavior, etc. Knowing these things may seem trivial, but it’s extremely insightful to have this data at your disposal.

For example, if you do any sort of advertising on Facebook, then knowing your audience’s interests can help you target the right people. If you are going solely on basic demographics, then you won’t be targeting your ideal customer and will end up paying more for traffic.

To find out who your ideal target audience is you can use tools such as quantcast.com and Facebook graph search. These tools will give you little known insights about your consumer – their interests, household income, purchasing behaviour, etc.

Once you create a basic profile of your target audience, then you will be in much better position to create a solution that they will be interesting in buying.

Step 2: Know Your Competitors

If you don’t know who your competitors are, then it’ll likely be an uphill battle to become relevant in your industry.

One of the most important first steps you can take is to identify your top 5 competitors and study their business – their products, services, pricing, sales funnel etc.

Once you’ve identified your primary competitors, then it’ll be much easier to find a way to differentiate yourself from them (step 4), as well as knowing how to price your products, what solutions to develop and creating your sales funnel.

There is no point in re-inventing the wheel if something is already working for your competitors. All you need to do is create better products and services, offer something they aren’t offering (such as a better guarantee, lower prices, more value, etc.).

This way you’ll be much more likely to create a business that has been proven to work and your job is to develop the best possible products and services for your clients and prospects.

Step 3: Develop a Simple Solution

If you’re going to develop a product (solution) centered around customer’s problems or needs, then it’ll be much more useful to think about creating your solution with the bare minimum features that will solve their problem.

It’s important to realize that you won’t build a perfect product the first time around. And you certainly won’t develop a perfect product without any input from your ideal customer.

So when developing your product or service, first focus on creating a minimum viable product (MVP), which is a bare minimum product that your customers be willing to pay you for (even if it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles).

Once you create and test your MVP in the market place, you will know if there is demand for your product or service, and you can go onto developing version 2.0, 3.0 and so on. By the 3rd or 4th iteration your product will start to look much more polished and something your customers will be lining up to buy (they’re the ones that helped you build it!)

So initially, when writing down your solution on your business plan, think of the top 1-3 features that your product will have that will solve the problem.

For example, if many of your prospective customers problem are finding it challenging to stay motivated and consistent with their diet and exercise routine, then you can create a solution that includes an online community or personal online coach that will help them stay on track and break through any barriers when they lose focus.

It important to create your solution around their needs and only include the minimum set of features that will capture their interest in trying out your services. As you learn more about your customers and get their feedback, you can start to add more features if needed as your product or service develops.

Step 4: Create your USP

The reason why many startup entrepreneurs fail to gain any traction in a competitive marketplace is because they don’t have anything that differentiates them from their competition. Too often they are simply copying what’s already out there, instead of uniquely position themselves to give themselves an upper hand on their competition.

You can do create this unique positioning by creating what’s known as a unique selling proposition. It’s the answer to the question, “what do you do differently then your competition?”.

A lot of entrepreneurs will simply say things like, “we’re better, we’re faster, we’re high quality, etc”. But anyone can claim that they are better, faster and higher quality. It’s not enough to call yourself these things.

Instead, it’s much more effective to offer something that your competition won’t be able to copy that easily. And if they do, it may affect their bottom line since they can’t offer it the way that you do.

For example, many business owners won’t give a money-back guarantee if the customer isn’t satisfied. And even if they do, it will only be for 30 days. So if everyone in your market place is offering a 30 day guarantee, then why not offer 60 days, 90 days, or even 365 days?

A lot of entrepreneurs would fear that they will lose money because a customer has more time to refund their products, but in fact the opposite is true. If you create a quality product that actually delivers results for the customer or client, then they will most likely stick around long term. They will appreciate that you have placed enough trust in them to provide them with that sort of guarantee and in turn will trust you even more.

So when creating your USP, think in terms of what you can do differently than what’s already being done by every other competitor out there.

Is there something they are not offering that you can offer? Can you deliver results faster than your competition? Is your customer service experience better than theirs in terms of quality and responsiveness (I.e available 24/7 or with reply within 3 hours?)

Step 5: Know Your Pricing

When creating your first product or service, it can be challenging to know how to price it. A lot of times entrepreneurs will simply guess what is the ideal price point for their product and will pricing it accordingly.

However, instead of guessing, why not first see what prices your competitors are using, and then use that as a starting point.

Once you have your starting price, the next step would be to test 3 different price points for each product. This way you can determine which price point is ideal and settle on the sweet spot.

It’s important to note that your pricing also depends on how well you position your product and build value on your sales pages. If you don’t do a good job of building value and interest, then it won’t matter how low you price your products – people simply won’t buy them.

But if you do a good job of conveying that value on your sales pages, then you may even be able to price your products much higher than your competition – especially if you do things they don’t as described in Step 3.

Step 6: Choose a Marketing Channel

Knowing which platforms you’re going to use to create awareness about your products and services is very important when launching your business.

There are many ways to market your product, so it’s important to pick the one best suited for your business.

Choosing the right marketing channel doesn’t have to be complicated. You simply need to find out where your ideal target audience congregates or hangs out (as determined in Step 2), and use that as your starting point.

It’s usually a good idea to start marketing on one platform before moving on to the next. You don’t need to be on all platforms. For example, if you’re primary channel is social media, then pick one (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.). If you find that most of your customers are on Facebook, then create a Facebook Page and start using this platform as your primary marketing medium.

Here’s a list of some marketing channels:

  1. SEO
  2. Social Media
  3. Ads (Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, Bing Ads)
  4. Guest Posts
  5. Banners
  6. Joint Ventures

Step 7: Know Your Business Model

When starting your business, it’s important to know how you’re going to monetize. Knowing your business model answers the question, “how do I make money?”

There are many business models to choose from, but it’s important to identify and select the one that will make the most sense for you and has the greatest ROI.

For example, if you’re an online instructor, then it make sense to utilize the membership/subscription model as your primary business model.

Or if you’re going to be blogging, then it might make sense to use advertisements and affiliate marketing.

And if you’re going to be podcasting, then it will make sense to get businesses to sponsor your show.

Here are some business models that you can integrate into your business:

  1. Membership Site
  2. Software
  3. Done-For-You Service
  4. Email Series
  5. Newsletters
  6. Group Coaching Calls
  7. Teleseminars
  8. Webinars
  9. Coaching/Consulting
  10. Service
  11. Affiliate Marketing
  12. Ads
  13. Subscription/Membership
  14. Software/App/Tools/Templates
  15. Speaking
  16. E-commerce
  17. Physical Products
  18. Books
  19. Mastermind Programs

So as you can see, creating a business plan doesn’t have to be long and arduous. If you follow these 7 steps and write everything down on a single page you will have a business plan that will be easy to use. Once you go through these 7 steps, you’ll find that you not only have a solid business plan, but something you can use again and again.

Several Factors in Business Plan Writing

A business plan is a primary way for any entrepreneur to take, regardless of the business size. Preparing a better business plan should be one of the most important things an entrepreneur can do. The other reason for owning a business plan is that it could help you if you are intending to get funds for your business from an outside source. Below are some elements you may include in your plan:

Financial – You need both operational and startup money to start a new business and you have no trust of obtaining any capital from opened financial institutions such as banks without a well developed business plan. The affordable one will define your concept, make clear of your potential, identify your financial requirements and detail your financial performance. If you intend to obtain finance from venture funder, your plan will must present strong financial data and market research in a professional, polished package in chronological order. A sound Financial Plan have to include a projected balance sheets, income statements and cash flow statements.

Management – A business plan is a handy tool with three elemental purposes: communication, management, and planning. As a managerial tool, it will helps you track, control, and assess your progress. A plan can act as a management tool that could help to focus on where you are and where you want to go in the future. The management section should include the names and backgrounds of the leading members of the management team and their respective responsibilities.

Market – Market analysis and sales description of the market for your products and services, explanation of competitive they will be, and a concrete discussion of your upmost marketing efforts to generate sales. From there, you could continue to explain how you plan to meet the needs of the market. A much detailed description of your market for the products and services, as well as the competition comparisons, should be provided also.

Product – If you have products to push the sales, you need to contain information about the manufacture of the products. If a new product is being proposed and time permits, a presentation of the product might also be included. The products and services, marketing and business operations should all closely connect in with business strategy.

Marketing – Marketing is an every day effort. It is about to educate people about you, what you do, and how you could solve their niche problems. You also need to contain how much you intend to spend on marketing. Exactly like a business plan, you should also have a strategy and detailed plan for your marketing. A key factor within it is the marketing plan, which shows marketing strategies that will be used to advertise and promote the products and or services.

Summary – The executive summary should be an overview of the business plan. Executive summary is normally one page summary of the import and key points in your plan. The content of the presentation is normally limited to the executive summary and a few import and key graphs showing financial trends and key decision making benchmarks. The executive summary introduces your business strategy and perhaps is the most important and key section for your money lending institutions. An executive summary is outlining goals and objectives. This should include a summary of your financial forecasts, with spreadsheets showing the formula you used to reach your projections. This summary is also important as a communication tool for employees and potential customers who need to understand and get behind your ideas.

In short, writing a plan for your business is the best way to exam if an idea for starting a business is feasible, other than do it directly. A well business plan is one of the important and key factors to secure your capital needs. Writing a plan is one of the most important aspects of starting a business in this age’s environment. That is right, the exercise of preparing a plan is very important in helping you obtain an understanding of how your business will operate in the competitive marketplace.

How to Write a Business Plan for a Computer Repair Business

So, you have decided to open up a new computer repair business, but really are not sure how to proceed. If that is the case, below we are going to tell you everything that you need to do in order to not only make an educated business decision. But also, the steps you need to take to create a comprehensive business plans that will at the very least, provide you an excellent road map for your new venture.

There are many different kinds of formats used to create a business plan. In this example, we are going to assume that you will not need an outside financing source and that your computer repair business will only be a local operation, at least initially.

The concept behind a business plan is relatively simple to understand and execute. Essentially, you want to make sure that what you are thinking about opening is financially viable, and if so, then write down everything that you need to accomplish in order to turn your idea into a profitable endeavor. Below we are going to layout a traditional business plan and let you know precisely how to complete each section.

# 1 – Executive Summary – You really do not have to work on this section of the business plan if you do not planning on showing it to anybody, or you are not looking for investors or an outside financing source. That being said, if you are really serious about turning your new enterprise into a profitable going concern that has the ability to not only grow, but is also sustainable, you should sit down and spend a few hours writing out the executive summary.

The executive summary which is also sometimes called the management summary, goes at the very beginning of the report, but should only be written AFTER you have completed the entire business plan. Its intended purpose is to capture the reader’s attention, get them interested in the business, and briefly explain the concept and everything else that is contain in the report.

# 2 – Business Description – This is where the real work starts when you decide it is time to get serious, and begin writing out your business plan. What you want to try and do is to get all of you ideas down on paper so that you can refer back them in the future if you need to.

Please do not be concerned with you writing style at this point, but only the information. Later, after you are sure you have included everything that you want or need, you can go back and clean up the material. Below are some of the things that need to be discussed in this section.

A) Why you believe this is a good business to start.

B) What do you know about this type of business.

C) What skills are you bringing to the table.

D) What skills do you need to acquire.

E) Who is your market.

F) Why is there a need for the service or product you plan on supplying?

G) Why you believe that your business will be able to serve your market better than any of your competitors.

H) What will make your business standout from the competition.

Okay, you get the idea. Please do not limit yourself to the things we discussed above, but also include anything and everything else that you think could be important.

# 3 – Market Analysis – This might be the most important consideration for anybody that is thinking about opening up a new computer repair business. After all, if there are already 14 other similar companies competing in your neighborhood, it would probably be a good idea to think about doing something else.

In all seriousness, you really have to understand your competition at the highest level, know what their fees are, be familiar with the services they provide, and figure out a way to improve on everything that they do. If you are confident you can meet or exceed the stipulations mentioned above, then your new business just might have a chance of succeeding. Below you will find some of the areas you need to research and be familiar with.

A) Write down each and every store or standalone operation that you will be competing against.

B) Note each and every service that they provide.

C) Figure out exactly what they charge for each job.

D) Here is the tough one, ask yourself, now that I know everything about my competition, how am I going to everything they do, better and cheaper?

If you are able to answer that last question, and you are happy with the way you answered it, you just might have a real chance of making it.

# 4 – Organization and Management – More than likely when you first start your computer repair business, you are not going to have any employees. But, there are going to be certain jobs, like setting up a computer network for a large company that could require a little extra manpower. If so, have you thought about who you know that you can bring in at a moment’s notice that would be willing to work part-time.

Next, people that enjoy working on computers are usually very organized and hopefully you happen to be one of them. If not, it is really going to be very hard for you to run a company that is in an industry that is time sensitive. After all, when you tell somebody that you are going to arrive at their home or business at 4 pm, and you show up three hours later, do you really think that they are going to call you the next time they have a computer problem?

Another thing that you need to take into consideration in this section, is as your company grows and you acquire more and more customers, when do you hire another computer technician and who do you hire? Do your hire somebody that already has a great deal of experience and will demand a very high salary? Or, do you hire a novice that you can train that will be less expensive? Below are some of the things you are going to need to ask yourself in order to complete this section of the business plan.

A) Am I organized, and if not, how do I improve in this area?

B) Am I good at training people?

C) Do I have any friends that will part-time work?

D) Do I know how to delegate, or do I have to do everything myself, so that I know it was done correctly?

E) Can I accept other people’s shortcomings and help them improve in those areas?

F) Should I invest my capital in my staff and how much of an investment can I justify?

And, you thought it was going to be easy to open a small computer repair business. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. If you are not prepared to at the very least to answer some of or all of the question in this section, starting your very own business just might not be a great career choice.

# 5 – Services and Products – This is an area that you really should not have too much trouble with. If you do, then you definitely should not be thinking about starting a computer repair business. In this section, you need to use the information you gathered about your competition and write down all the services or products you plan on promoting, as well as the fees you plan on charging for your services.

# 6 – Marketing, Advertising, and Sales – Computer geeks by their very nature are usually not outgoing people that make good salesman. That being said, your business needs customers and to get them you are going to have to think out of the box and come up with some creative ideas. We are going to provide you a few proven marketing and advertising techniques below, but you really need to figure out what your competition is doing in this area, and then either copy them or come up with better schemes.

A – Website – Of course you are going to have to build a website, after all, you are in the computer business. Hopefully, you know how to properly SEO your new site, if not, find somebody that does before you waste your time, effort, and money by creating a site that nobody is ever going to see.

The good thing about a computer repair businesses is that virtually every one of them is a local operation. That means that your competition on the internet for highly targeted traffic will not be that fierce. In other words, if you correctly onsite and offsite SEO your new website, there is a very good chance that it will move up the search engine rankings extremely quickly and you will get to Google’s first page, and just maybe, the top spot on that page in only a couple of months.

TIP # 1 – Remember this is a local business, and when you select your URL it is critical that you choose a local name. What we mean by that is, if the name of your new business is “Joe’s Computer Repairs”, that is not what you want to use for its URL. Instead, you want to use your towns name in the URL.

That means if you live in Dallas for example, you want your URL to be “DallasComputerRepair.com”. The reason you want to do this is very simple to understand, all of the search engines will move your site up their rankings whenever somebody in Dallas types in the search term “Computer Repair”.

TIP # 2 – For any new business, it is absolutely critical that when somebody does find your website, you get them to either give you a call or send you an email. To do this, you really have to offer a great deal that everybody who visits your site, is sure to see. A few examples you could use are the following.

I – Second repair visit FREE.

II – Half price on service calls for all new customers.

III – Free antivirus and malware software for all new customers on first service call.

B – Low Cost or Free Advertising – All new businesses have the same problem, which is they are not generating any cash. Thus, they cannot afford to spend too much on marketing or advertising. So, you have to find ways to promote your business that are either totally free, or cost very little. Below we are going to provide a few suggestions, but you know your local market far better than we ever could, and you need to come up with your own marketing ideas.

I – Craigslist’s – If you are not familiar with this site, it allows you to place classified ads for free, so use it. In addition, there are quite a few other sites that provide the same free service, so please find them, and use them.

II – Social Media – Almost everybody has heard of the following websites Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. These types of sites are called social media and they allow their users to interact with one another. If you were able to build up a strong local following on anyone of these sites, almost assuredly, your business would eventually turn into a huge success story.

111 – Flyers – Printing out 10,000 flyers is not that expensive and they can be a fantastic marketing tool. Not only can you hand them out in your neighborhood, you can also distribute them to the local businesses and put them up on bulletin boards at grocery stores.

IV – Neighborhood Newspapers – If you are fortunate enough to live in an area that receives a free neighborhood newspaper delivered to your door each week, you might want to think about advertising in it. Their advertising fees are very reasonable, and your ads just might be able to generate enough leads to get your new business off the ground.

It really does not matter if you are the very best computer repair engineer in the world, if nobody knows about you, your business will surely fail. In reality, this might be the most important section in your business plan, because if you do not develop a marketing and advertising program that is going to work in your local market, almost assuredly your new business will not be around for more than a year, if that long.

# 7 – Financial Projections – The great thing about starting a computer repair business, is that in most cases, you will not have to spend a great deal of money to get it up and running. You do not have to rent a store, more than likely you already have a car, computer, and some, if not most of the software that you need. In addition, you do not have to put anybody on the payroll right away. So, other than your advertising expense, you really do not have any cash flowing out of the business.

The most important thing for you to note in the financial projection section of your business plan are the capital expenditures you need to make to open the business. These could include but are not limited to a new laptop computer, more software, a better cell phone plan, and your advertising expenses.

As for your income projections, you should definitely set goals for yourself using realistic figures. After all, you do not want to set your goals so high, that you later become discouraged when you don’t achieve them, and you do not want to set them so low, so as to not challenged yourself.

Conclusion

For the most part, the people that do well in business not only had a great idea to start with, but were also committed to their company and were willing to put in the time and effort that was required to make their firm a success. Working for yourself requires far more determination and discipline than just about anything else you can do in life.

That being said, starting a new computer repair business is not without its risks. But, then again, it is not without its rewards either. If you feel the time is right and you have all the skills that are required to run this type of business, then why not go for it? After all, what is the worst that can happen; you lose a little bit of time and money, and end up having to get a job working for somebody else if your business does not make it.