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.
A Strategy for Success
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).
Defining Your Business
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.
The Role of the Customer
This lesson will focus on the customer. Today's 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).
Structuring Your Organization
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.
The Marketing Plan
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.
Marketing in Action
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.
Understanding the Finance Section (Part I)
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.
Understanding the Finance Section (Part II)
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.
Financing Your Business
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.
The Final Document
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.