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The Secrets to Writing A Successful Business Plan: A Pro Shares A Step-By-Step Guide To Creating A Plan That Gets Results

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Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan: A Pro Shares a Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Plan that Gets Results by Hal Shelton will open your eyes to insider tips, hints, and techniques for creating a winning business plan and attaining funding. This second edition maintains the original laser focus on writing the plan. It also adds much material on the vibrant crowd Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan: A Pro Shares a Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Plan that Gets Results by Hal Shelton will open your eyes to insider tips, hints, and techniques for creating a winning business plan and attaining funding. This second edition maintains the original laser focus on writing the plan. It also adds much material on the vibrant crowdfunding platforms as well as providing a new section on issues faced by early stage companies. Nearly 50 percent of new businesses fail within five years. A well-thought-out business plan can dramatically turn the odds in your favor. With this easy-to-follow guide, you will (1) Discover why you need a business plan and the best style for you, (2) Receive step-by-step guidance for creating each section of your plan, (3) Get proven strategies for obtaining bank loans and attracting investors, (4) Spend less time writing your plan and more time setting up your business, and (5) Learn how to create a business plan for a nonprofit This book is for entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting a small business or nonprofit, and for small business owners who want to grow an existing business or solve an operating problem. This book will also help if you are looking for assurance that you are headed in the right direction, seeking help with a section of your business plan that you do not understand, feeling that a section of your business plan is not robust enough and want pointers, or wanting to learn where and how to apply for funding. Entrepreneurs should always surround themselves with mentors and advisors, so you will also find ideas on where to find these valuable resources. The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan is packed with actionable advice and real-life examples from Shelton’s experience as a senior executive, SCORE small business mentor, and angel investor.


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Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan: A Pro Shares a Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Plan that Gets Results by Hal Shelton will open your eyes to insider tips, hints, and techniques for creating a winning business plan and attaining funding. This second edition maintains the original laser focus on writing the plan. It also adds much material on the vibrant crowd Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan: A Pro Shares a Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Plan that Gets Results by Hal Shelton will open your eyes to insider tips, hints, and techniques for creating a winning business plan and attaining funding. This second edition maintains the original laser focus on writing the plan. It also adds much material on the vibrant crowdfunding platforms as well as providing a new section on issues faced by early stage companies. Nearly 50 percent of new businesses fail within five years. A well-thought-out business plan can dramatically turn the odds in your favor. With this easy-to-follow guide, you will (1) Discover why you need a business plan and the best style for you, (2) Receive step-by-step guidance for creating each section of your plan, (3) Get proven strategies for obtaining bank loans and attracting investors, (4) Spend less time writing your plan and more time setting up your business, and (5) Learn how to create a business plan for a nonprofit This book is for entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting a small business or nonprofit, and for small business owners who want to grow an existing business or solve an operating problem. This book will also help if you are looking for assurance that you are headed in the right direction, seeking help with a section of your business plan that you do not understand, feeling that a section of your business plan is not robust enough and want pointers, or wanting to learn where and how to apply for funding. Entrepreneurs should always surround themselves with mentors and advisors, so you will also find ideas on where to find these valuable resources. The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan is packed with actionable advice and real-life examples from Shelton’s experience as a senior executive, SCORE small business mentor, and angel investor.

30 review for The Secrets to Writing A Successful Business Plan: A Pro Shares A Step-By-Step Guide To Creating A Plan That Gets Results

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mihai Pintilie

    This is a template I create from this amazing book: 1.General company description Description of what business you are in Company’s legal structure Mission statement (purpose and direction of organization, what is crucial, guide to decisions and actions) Key Goals Ownership Contact information 2.Marketing Plan Market analysis -how big is it -sufficient customers? -satisfactory revenue? My customer Psychological analysis so as to indicate how they can be reached aka what marketing scheme should be applied (a This is a template I create from this amazing book: 1.General company description Description of what business you are in Company’s legal structure Mission statement (purpose and direction of organization, what is crucial, guide to decisions and actions) Key Goals Ownership Contact information 2.Marketing Plan Market analysis -how big is it -sufficient customers? -satisfactory revenue? My customer Psychological analysis so as to indicate how they can be reached aka what marketing scheme should be applied (a group of potential customers who share certain characteristics, needs, or interests?) Do your customers share a common age range, income level, gender, residence area, type of work, religion, family structure, hobbies, diet, ethnicity, etc.? Do your potential customers have a certain size in terms of sales or staffing, order size and frequency, payment practices, contracting formalities, etc.? Competitor analysis and reaction The strengths and weaknesses of your competitors: operating hours, accessibility, pricing, return policy, marketing budget size, reputation, delivery policy (is it provided free, at cost, or not at all?), complementary products and services, current/outdated versions (which might also apply to current/outdated styles), and buying quantities (which may equate to lower or higher costs).SWOT analysis maybe. Competitor reaction: lower their prices, copy your products, increase their advertising budget, use attack ads, provide free delivery or other services, and more. Customer targeted marketing Where do potential customers go for information?( this is where you want to promote your product). Should the focus be on obtaining new customers or on gaining repeat business from existing customers? Many businesses calculate that it is less expensive to keep existing customers than to develop new ones. Most entrepreneurs have limited budgets, so prioritize your marketing dollars and only use those actions that will provide the best results. (Your Action Items Email marketing includes direct emails to your customer base, newsletters, surveys, and polls—all items to keep existing customers engaged. Website Direct mail is not just sales letters in business-sized envelopes; it can encompass a variety of marketing materials, including postcards, fliers, oversized postcards with pictures and graphics, brochures, newsletters, and coupon circulars—anything to capture reader interest. Press and Media: If your customers are newspaper readers, newspaper ads might be the way to go, but they should be considered a strategy requiring multiple occurrences—one-time ads are usually not effective in building awareness and creditability. Social Media Internet Advertising: Word of mouth is often thought of as the best form of marketing, but it does not come free or without effort. How does the chain get started and then maintained? What incentives are provided to customers to make positive comments about their experience with your company.) Most customers do not progress directly from awareness of your company to buying your product. It is therefore critical to have a “funnel” of prospects and customers at each stage of the buy cycle. Marketing actions (incl. time and cost) (PRICING AND PRICING PHILOSOPHY Get to know the competition and their pricing patterns. Price—hard and soft. Hard pricing is the sales ticket. Soft pricing are all the items surrounding the sale like multiple payment methods, credit terms, return policy, rebates, VIP cards, delivery options, customization, and others.) “Effective marketing plans are developed through research and analysis and will change as business conditions change.” -A complete marketing plan ensures that each stage of the buy cycle has tactics to attract prospective clients and guides them to the next stage toward purchase. -How will you measure the success of each marketing tactic? -Price should be consistent with your brand strategy, market factors, and your cost structure. -A price is not forever; you can change it until you find what works best. This especially applies to internet businesses, which commonly use dynamic pricing. Conclude with a “believable” sales forecast and marketing budget 3.Detailing Your Operations -how you will operate your business on a daily basis? (concrete actionable plan) -location, equipment, leases, quality control, staffing, key vendors, hours of operation, inventory management, return policy, and, especially for internet businesses, your website strategy, privacy policy, and opt-in/out emails - flow of operations, from raw materials to finished goods, including sourcing, quality control, R&D, and inventory management - my business location(s) and attributes that make them appropriate - required licenses and regulations, intellectual property obtained to protect my products and services, and other legal considerations -the personnel needed to successfully operate the business and a timeline for their hiring - hours of operation and other customer-facing activities Production: How and where are your products or services produced? Location: If you have a specific location in mind, then state it; if not, give a general description of the location attributes you think are important. Legal Environment: Describe the following in this section: licensing and bonding requirements, permits, any special regulations covering your industry or profession, zoning or building code requirements, insurance coverage, trademarks, copyrights, and patents (pending, existing, or purchased Personnel - number of employees, type of labor (skilled, unskilled, and professional), where and how you will find the right employees, and pay structure in enough detail to provide a basis for the payroll cost section of the financial statements. - Also include which positions will be staffed by employees and which by contractors. It is helpful to have a staffing timeline of when— usually tied to sales or production activity levels—you plan (need) to bring on additional staff. Inventory Describe what kind of inventory you will keep, and whether it is raw materials, supplies, and/or finished goods, along with the average value in stock (in other words, what is your inventory investment), inventory turnover rate and how this compares to industry averages, seasonal build-ups, and lead time for ordering. Often inventory is a large component of start-up costs as you need these supplies before you can make sales, particularly in a retail business. Inventory, especially if it is easily identified and has a ready market, might be used as collateral against a loan used to purchase it. Suppliers Identify any key suppliers and relationships/agreements you have or plan to have along with their reliability. Note if any suppliers are foreign, as well as arrangements for ordering, quality control, payment terms, return policy, and so on. Also, note if any letters of credit will be required, especially for international shipments. Credit Terms, Discounts, and Return Policies Do you plan to sell to customers on credit, offer discounts, and allow returns? If so, under what conditions? Securing a business location and bank loan can be a frustrating process because the landlord wants to see the money first and the banker wants to see the lease first. This is a time-tested process, and each agreement closes at about the same time. Staffing with contractors rather than employees is not at your discretion. The company-staff relationship determines the IRS rules that apply—the more control exercised by the company, the more likely staff should be treated as employees rather than contractors. The design of your operations should be in sync with the customer need being fulfilled and company image. 4.Team players provide the technical and leadership aspects the business requires “You want to demonstrate that you have the technical chops for the business as well as the leadership skills. Where there might be experience/skills gaps, note how you have added others to the team to provide this expertise” “A classic mismatch is the programmer who is great at writing games or apps and is tired of his boss, so he wants to start his own company. The problem is, he may be IT proficient, but he has had a position where he always worked on what he was told to do, which means he did not have any leadership, marketing, finance, or other management experience. That translates to a difficult time obtaining a bank loan, or worse, not having the skills to run a business” Does my management team and organization (which might just be me)… Possess the skills and experience for this particular business? Include advisors and mentors? Include the “front line” positions of marketing and production as well as the “back office” positions like accounting and customer service? Have a board of directors if I am organized as a C, S, or nonprofit corporation? Either in this section or the previous one on operations, you should address how you will handle “back office” functions, particularly accounting and bookkeeping. It is important to communicate with potential funders that you have this critical area under control. Key Lessons: Your bio should demonstrate you have the technical and leadership skills and industry experience to be successful—that you “have been there, done that, and have the T-shirt.” Every entrepreneur and small business owner should surround themselves with advisors and mentors to assist in the many facets of knowledge and outreach needed to operate a small business successfully Understand your own strengths, skills, and time available. Know when you need to engage an accountant, lawyer, insurance agent, marketing specialist, web page designer, or other professional. This will start your management process as a business own. 5.Financial Plan Assumptions used to prepare the financial statement -and how each one was determined -reasonableness of the assumptions Most of the assumptions in this section will come from earlier sections of the business plan. For example, from the marketing section, you have the sales forecast and the marketing budget. From the management team and organization section, you get the staffing— number of people, hours worked, and pay rates. From the operations section, you have buildings/equipment used, rentals, utilities, and other facility costs Financial statements necessary for me to project and track my business Depict believable results Describe a business that I would invest my personal funds in -Financial statements are charts with lots of numbers and few words describing what they are all about. Income Statement Cash Flow Statement Balance Sheet Start-Up Expenditures On Target? Financial Ratios Break-Even Analysis Financial Statement Templates REALITY CHECK REFERENCE MATERIALS Look them all up again in the book Key Lessons The financial section incorporates information from all the previous sections and converts it to a common language—money. A small business, especially a start-up, should focus on cash flow and not income. Spell out your key assumptions in plain English. Determine whether to use cash or accrual accounting. Reality test your projected financial results. Use only a few financial ratios, if any, in your business plan and make sure you know the story they tell A financier needs to fully understand where in the line of repayment/reward he/she stands. clear statement on how you will generate revenue Have exit strategy Do the results meet your needs and expectations? If you change a key assumption, does it have a major impact on cash flow? 6.Appendix Does my appendix… Include material that is of interest and importance but is not germane to the key message? Contain too much information, which makes the business plan too bulky? It should be well organized. Include photos, detailed resumes, brochures, floor plans and layouts, technical drawings, patents, and any other documents that would overly bulk up the main sections of the plan and make it difficult reading. 0.Executive summary -Have an upbeat and enthusiastic tone as if I am on stage promoting my elevator pitch -Clearly and concisely present my business idea so a reader can fully understand it and its potential -succintly describe the business plan (2pages must recap all) -why it will be successful -no product engineering -mention maketing, management capabilities, and expected financial results -very important graphs that don’t take too much space -quality effort you will put in the business -You may also have theories about how business should be conducted, but the focus needs to be on the customer At the very beginning of the executive summary, describe your business and the customer problem being uniquely solved so that in one paragraph, the reader understands what you are trying to achieve. In the marketing paragraphs, note the size of the market, sales forecast, demographics of your potential customers and competition, and your competitive advantages. Also, provide enough description of your plans to identify, attract, and retain customers that it convinces the reader the sales forecast is reasonable. In the operations/staffing/management paragraphs, demonstrate management’s leadership and industry experience, along with a few key details about the location, staffing, and operations. The financial paragraphs should include a clear statement of how much is needed to start the business, and of this sum, how much you will be investing versus the amount being sought from the funder. Also, include the projected income earned and cash generated during the first three year. Points to bare in mind: -Hiding key information like commitments, guarantees, funding from other sources, legal issues, and so on is a no-no. The plan should be focused on the current business and its challenges, such as initial funding, product development, branding, product distribution, and staffing. . Financials Banks and angel investors want to see an income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet for at least a three-year forecast period, if not five, with the first year by month and subsequent years by quarter. It is preferred that these statements be prepared using the accrual rather than the cash basis of accounting. By showing both income and cash flow statements, an entrepreneur demonstrates an understanding of the difference between profits and cash flow. How are your products and services unique? How do they solve a customer problem or satisfy their need? And why will your business idea be operationally and financially successful? This messaging should be used consistently in all collateral materials. Notes on business plan: -should be like a movie: a project into the future that includes all the conflict -4 main elements the people (this is the most important part) -describe the team -what they know -who they know -how well are they known opportunity what's in your control *context - what are the external factors that are outside of your control risk and reward -be humble enough and state why other people won't manage to pull it off -the good the bad and how you'll react to the bad A business plan is developed from the bottom up, so you need to work out all the details before you can write the summary

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dan De

    Structure I normally don't mind an informal tone but this book went too far. It's like someone rambling for hours. After a while it is annoying. There is absolutely no example of a plan. It gives the components of a plan and definitions. The only examples given are on financials. Other than that he says search the internet. What's the point of buying the book if that is all I am going to read? I regret purchasing this substandard book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    Excellent book for anyone thinking of starting their own business

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jerry

    A helpful book with practical advice for small business in preparing a business plan. For example in describing the Executive Summary of the plan the author advises: “It should be enthusiastic, concise, professional, and no more than two pages long. You need to convince the reader that this business idea will be successful by describing what customer needs are being fulfilled, how this business idea sets itself apart from all other competing investment alternatives in the marketplace, and the fi A helpful book with practical advice for small business in preparing a business plan. For example in describing the Executive Summary of the plan the author advises: “It should be enthusiastic, concise, professional, and no more than two pages long. You need to convince the reader that this business idea will be successful by describing what customer needs are being fulfilled, how this business idea sets itself apart from all other competing investment alternatives in the marketplace, and the financial and other rewards to be obtained.” He goes on to provide more specific advise on the content of the summary: “Summarize the full plan... All key messages and issues should be addressed.” “At the beginning of the executive summary, describe your business and customer problem being uniquely solved so that in one paragraph, the reader understands what you are trying to achieve.” “In the marketing paragraphs, note the size of the market, sales forecast, demographics of your potential customers and competition, and your competitive advantages. Also, provide enough description of your plans to identify, attract, and retain customers that it convinces the reader the sales forecast is reasonable.” “In the operations/staffing/management paragraphs, demonstrate management’s leadership and industry experience, along with a few key details about location, staffing, and operations.” “The financial paragraphs should include a clear statement of how much is needed to start the business, and of that sum, how much you will be investing versus the amount being sought from the funder. Also, include the projected income earned and cash generated during the first three years.” The author gives similar advise on the other sections of the plan then goes on to discuss how a nonprofit differs from a for-profit business and also talk about funding sources.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kirk G. Meyer

    Solid book with clear instructions This book provides a very solid foundation to write your business plan. The author also provides excellent examples and instructions as to what to and not to do in writing your business plan. I liked the fact he makes this a process that you can seek assistance on and use a group mentality to accomplish. I plan on using many aspects of this book on my own business plan.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alex Devero

    Starting a business is hard work and over half of those that get off the ground go bankrupt within their first five years. It’s crucial to put in the groundwork, and you can only troubleshoot a new business by drafting a rock solid business plan.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Don Welton

    It was helpful.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jamal Murray

    A must have! Awesome book that gets you engaged through exercises at the end of each chapter. This book is definitely a must have!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nic

    More of a pep talk than a how to. Don't expect to write a business plan after reading this without a whole lot of additional research.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Hany Fahmy

    Simple The book is so simple , that's fine , but I am not so sure that it's enough , but I would recommend it

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rui Valente

  12. 4 out of 5

    Wafa Aboulwafa

  13. 4 out of 5

    Farzad

  14. 5 out of 5

    Soo Boon How Darren

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jeffery Barnett

  16. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Poquette

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gustavo Salazar Restrepo

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jani Karlsson

  19. 4 out of 5

    Craig Gehrig

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jason Castellanos

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michelle LaCourse

  23. 5 out of 5

    Frosty

  24. 4 out of 5

    Moshe

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nick

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jammy Chong

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Klatt

  28. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

  29. 4 out of 5

    Charmanie

  30. 5 out of 5

    kelly tapp

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