There are thousands of new small businesses created each year in the United States; some are successful, some are not. There is one element that greatly influences whether a new small business will have a successful outcome. The factor is a solid business plan.
The business plan should cover the business basics from goals to management, from marketing to operations. A business plan is a map for success, so don't go lightly on the details. A good business plan should include the executive summary, a definition of operations, an outline of the marketing strategy, and how the small business will be financially managed.
The Executive Summary
The executive summary should give a overview of the business and should include the following areas:
* A detailed description of the business and its goals
* Identification of the business ownership and the legal structure.
* Discussion of skills and experience the potential owner and partners (if applicable) bring to the business.
* Identification of advantages the business will have over its competitors.
The Business Operation
The business operation section should cover the daily happenings of the potential small business and should include:
* An explanation of how the business will be managed on a day-to-day basis.
* Discussion of hiring and personnel procedures.
* Discussion of insurance, lease or rent agreements, and issues pertinent to the business.
* What equipment will be necessary to produce the products or services.
* An Outline of the production and delivery of products and services.
The Marketing Plan
The correct marketing strategy is important for any small business. Getting the word out and building a customer base is necessary and essential. Therefore, the marketing plan should include:
* A description of the product or service of the business specializes in.
* Identification of the customer demand for products or services.
* Identification of the market, including its size, location and demographics.
* An explanation of how the product or service will be advertised and marketed.
* An explanation of the pricing strategy.
Effective financial management will also help determine how successful a potential small business will be. Therefore, important elements of this to include in the business plan are:
*Explanation of the source and amount of initial equity capital.
* Estimated start-up costs.
* Projected operating expenses.
* Development of a monthly operating budget for the first year.
* Development of an expected return on investment and monthly cash flow for the first year.
* Projected income statements and balance sheets for a two-year period.
* Discussion of a break-even point.
* Explanation the business owner's personal balance sheet and method of compensation.
* Discussion of who will maintain the accounting records and how the records will be kept.
* A provision of a "what if" statements that address alternative approaches to problems that may develop.
In addition to all of the essential elements of a business plan as outlined above, other important areas to consider when starting a small business are legal requirements as well as registration and accounting requirements.
All small businesses must comply with federal, state and local laws and regulations. Small business owners need to know the legal requirements affecting their business. Talking with an attorney can also be very helpful.
One can't just start a business without approval from their state; in other words, practicing without a license can result in all kinds of legal problems and can leave one vulnerable to law suits. It is always important to obtain a license or work certificate, a sales tax number, and to open a separate business account. Once the business grows to the point where employees are needed, then the small business owner is responsible for withholding income and social security taxes as well with complying with state laws covering employee health, safety, and minimum wage.
The U.S. Business Advisor has a site that assists small business owners in meeting the necessary requirements for their particular state.
Lastly, don't forget about zoning! Be aware of local towns and cities zoning requirements. If they are not followed, a small business can easily be shut down.
Careful planning by way of a business plan and ensuring that all legal requirements are met are important processes for any potential new small business owner. If done correctly, these essential elements can greatly impact the success of a new small business.