Everyday new businesses are started on the internet. Some persons start an online business for fun, some with the intent of making some ‘extra money’ while others have a purpose in mind: that of starting a ‘real business’ to provide a regular income online. Regardless of the reasons, one factor that most persons omit to take into consideration is the need to have a business plan. What is a business plan? http://www.google.com/url?q=http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/business_plan describes a business plan as “A summary of how a business owner, manager, or entrepreneur intends to organize an entrepreneurial endeavor and implement activities necessary and sufficient for the venture to succeed.” Your business plan for your online business should clearly explain the what, why, when, who and how of the project.
Based on the above I can hear someone saying, “I don’t need a business plan. After all an online business is not like a brick and mortar business…” And that’s true. However, by setting up a business plan, you are laying out a roadmap to success. It will help you to develop your business goals and strategies, as well as provide you with a better understanding of the marketplace. It will also highlight any business strengths or weaknesses that you may have, as well as providing you with an opportunity to take a close look at your competitors. While this is optional at the outset, it would do no harm to include financial projections, historical data and growth expectations into your business plan. If your goal is to make money, you will need to document what your resources are at the outset, and what it’s going to take to reach your goal.
One vital concept of your plan for success in an online business endeavor is to identify your target audience. This way you will know how your service, your product, or your knowledge can specifically meet or exceed the expectations of your audience.
Your business plan may be broken down into the following seven sections:
1. Business summary – The product or service you want to provide.
2. Market analysis – Research on the product or service and how the competitors are doing.
3. Product positioning – How to make it more prominent compared to your competitors. Or, what need is not being filled in your area that you can fill.
4. Market strategy – How are you actually going to market it? Every business must have a marketing plan otherwise you are setting-up yourself for failure.
5. Customer analysis – Look at what the customer wants or needs. How will you find out? Feedback, surveys, etc.
6. Financial analysis – What you need to invest in order to set up the business and to keep it going while it is just getting started. You’ll need at the minimum a domain name, a hosting service, and an autoresponder. I use and recommend GoDaddy.com for domain name registration, and AWeber.com for e-mail autoresponder service. Click on the links to take you directly to both sites.
7. Overall business goals – What you hope to achieve in, say, a year’s time or even 5 years’ time. Short-term and long-term goals.
Although you may be thinking you need pages and pages of information, which could cause you to hesitate, keep in mind that the sections listed above can be condensed into just about two pages. This is for your reference, and should serve as a guide which you can refer to from time to time in order to determine your progress. And, above all, make it your determination that once you have created a business plan for your online business you will stick with it. As your business evolves, you can amend as you see fit.
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