Creating a Successful Business Plan

Turn your business ideas into a solid plan for financing and long-term success. This course will guide you through all the major components of writing a business plan and you'll emerge with your first draft in hand.
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6 Weeks / 24 Course Hrs
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Course code: cbp

Turn your business ideas into a solid plan for financing and long-term success. Committing your idea to paper in the form of a business plan not only increases your chances of obtaining financing, but also in keeping your business strategically focused. You will work through all the major components of writing a business plan and emerge with your first draft in hand. And most importantly, you will have completed the first—and most difficult—step on the path to small business success.

What you will learn

  • Develop a strategy for success, starting with a detailed business plan
  • Learn the role of the customer in your new business venture
  • Gain an understanding of marketing and all the pieces you will need to know to succeed
  • Understand the financial aspects of starting and running a business
  • Learn how and where to obtain financing

How you will benefit

  • Learn what you will need to know to get a successful start as an entrepreneur
  • Understand how to surround yourself with the right people and tools for success
  • Feel more confident as you step out on your own to achieve your dreams

How the course is taught

  • Instructor-led or self-paced online course
  • 6 Weeks or 3 Months access
  • 24 course hours

In this first lesson, you will meet several leading entrepreneurs and determine if you have similar passions and skill sets. You will discover that business plans are not just for funding your dream, but for guiding it along the path to success (as you choose to define it).

Now, you will start to mold your business. You will develop a vision and a mission for your enterprise. You will define and refine your product or service, and you will uncover your niche. This is the fun part of the journey—your only limitation is your imagination.

This lesson will focus on the customer. Successful companies focus not on the products and services that they offer, but on the customers that they serve—on many levels. You will learn to position your company to be customer-centric, and how to move that customer from satisfied to loyal (and perhaps even an advocate for your business).

In this lesson, you will structure your organization so it's in the best position to provide your product or service to your targeted customers. You will discover the role that change plays in your entrepreneurial evolution. Change is good—it shows that you're thinking.

This lesson explores the plan within the plan—the marketing section of your business plan. You will also discover the features and benefits of your product or service, and you will begin the ongoing task of market research. This is where you can differentiate your product or service from that of your competition.

This lesson will explore three separate areas of marketing. First, you will learn about your competitors so that you can better position yourself and discover just how solid your business ideas are. Then, you will address one of the most difficult issues of new business—pricing. Finally, you will become a SWOT agent—analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

In this lesson, you will join a panel of outstanding marketing, public relations, and graphics experts who are also entrepreneurs and believe in the power of networking. You will explore graphic design, logos, image, public relations, and guerrilla marketing, as well as marketing in action.

This lesson tackles operations and manufacturing concerns.

This lesson takes a bird's eye view of the financial section of a business plan. You will also briefly explore the capital equipment list, the balance sheet, and break-even analysis.

In this lesson, you will discover three additional financial components of the plan. You will explore the projected income statement, cash flow, and historical financial records. Be sure to take some time to explore the Supplemental Links area (in this lesson and in all the others) for outstanding online resources.

This lesson continues the focus on money, but from a different perspective than in the previous two. You will focus on funding and financing opportunities, and by the end, you should have a better understanding of financing. You will also find out where to locate traditional, and not so traditional, sources of funding.

In the final lesson, you will end one journey while beginning another. First, you will write an outstanding executive summary. You will receive a few important document formatting tips, and you will learn what supporting documents you should add to your final business plan. You now hold all the keys to the doors along your entrepreneurial path. Journey well.

Kris Solie-Johnson, chancellor and president of the American Institute of Small Business, best-selling author, educator, speaker, and mother of three, is an energetic and passionate entrepreneur. Her books are in public libraries, high schools, colleges, and military bases both nationally and internationally. Solie-Johnson has an MBA in Venture Management from the University of St. Thomas and over 19 years of experience helping entrepreneurs reach their goals quickly through joint venture partnerships, creative marketing programs, and innovative financial options. She's dedicated to motivating and inspiring owners to achieve beyond their dreams.

Requirements:

Hardware Requirements:

  • This course can be taken on either a PC or Mac.

Software Requirements:

  • PC: Windows 8 or newer.
  • Mac: macOS 10.6 or later.
  • Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are preferred. Microsoft Edge and Safari are also compatible.
  • Microsoft Word or other word processing program (not included in enrollment).
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.

Other:

  • Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.

Prerequisites:

There are no prerequisites to take this course.

Instructional Material Requirements:

The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.

Instructor-Led: A new session of each course begins each month. Please refer to the session start dates for scheduling.
Self-Paced: You can start this course at any time your schedule permits.

Instructor-Led: Once a course session starts, two lessons will be released each week for the 6 week duration of your course. You will have access to all previously released lessons until the course ends.
Self-Paced: You have 3 month access to the course. After enrolling, you can learn and complete the course at your own pace, within the allotted access period.

Instructor-Led: The interactive discussion area for each lesson automatically closes two weeks after each lesson is released, so you're encouraged to complete each lesson within two weeks of its release.
Self-Paced: There is no time limit to complete each lesson, other than completing all lessons within the allotted access period.

Instructor-Led: The final exam will be released on the same day as the last lesson. Once the final exam has been released, you will have two weeks plus 10 days (24 days total) to complete the final and finish any remaining lessons in your course. No further extensions can be provided beyond these 10 days.
Self-Paced: Because this course is self-paced, no extensions will be granted after the start of your enrollment.