Planning To Start New Online Business – E-Commerce Web Solutions!

Planning, We Don’t Need No Stinking Planning!

Business planning is another step in the process of developing your business that many people would rather skip all together.

“Planning? We don’t need no stinking planning!”

If you’re not familiar with the line then you’ve been deprived of a comedic masterpiece, but I digress. The point is that many of us prefer to “do” vs. “plan.” Nevertheless, it is sometimes necessary to bite the bullet and do some planning. This is one of those times.

A business plan serves as the roadmap for your business and as its primary sales tool for financing. Even if you have no intention of going to a bank to get startup funds for your e-commerce business, you should still develop a business plan.

A business plan will help you to develop a real course of action to get your business off the ground. Most business plans contain the following:

Executive Summary – discusses the high level goals, mission statement and keys to success for the business.

Startup Costs – a list of the initial costs to open the business.

Product Overview – what are you selling and why will it work?

Market Analysis – find out who are your target customers and how will you attract them?

Competitive (SWOT) Analysis – determine your competitors and how will you beat them?

Sales Strategy – how will you sell your products?

Sales Projections – how much do you expect to sell in the next 3 years?

Website Development Plan – how will you get online? Who will make it happen?

Operational Plans – Who will run the business? How will it operate?

Financial Plan – When will you break even? What’s the projected profit/loss for 3 years? Cash flow? Balance sheet?

Seems like a lot, right? Sure the concept can be overwhelming, but you don’t need to start from scratch either. What if I told you there was a place to go and find over 500 different sample business plans you could use to model for your own business? Okay, so there is and I’m telling you.

I know you’re ready to skip ahead to the next chapter and avoid this important but intimidating step in the launch of your business. Don’t do it. Even if you’re not planning on seeking financing from traditional sources like a bank, this is a valuable process that will help you understand more about running a business.

If you are going to seek financing from a bank or even mom and dad, having a solid business plan will make you more confident. Would you invest in a business that didn’t even have a plan?

Small Business Start-Up – How Much Money Do I Need?

Money is the big question runs through all the other ones. At the outset of setting up your own business the question tends to revolve around how much money you need to start the business up, both in terms of the funding that the business itself will need, and any money that you or your family needs to survive on whilst the business is being set up and before it starts to make any money in its own right. Again this is an area that is a big reality check that a lot of people, but it comes down to planning and foresight.

If you know you’re going to need a certain amount of money, but are not yet in a position to be able to do it that is fine. It gives you an opportunity to think ahead and plan the start of your business at a given point in the future when you know you will have the funds available or be able to get funds. Do not be put off the idea of setting up or running your own business if you do not immediately have the money available to do. You can work on other areas of the setup and get things ready so that when the funding is available you will be able to go ahead and do it.

Have in mind also where you’re going to get the money from. It is probably true that you would rather risk someone else’s money rather than your own, however banks and other institutions are well aware of this and so often require you to carry a significant portion of the risk yourself as well as risking their money or in fact anyone’s money. Funding can come from either yourself, institutions such as banks or small-business banks, Angels, or anyone willing to invest in your business. Be cautious about accepting investment from family or friends, however well-meaning simply because if things do go wrong it puts a whole new dimension on those relationships that you do not want.

Think about also how you want to take the funding. Assuming you have the luxury of choice, funding can come by way of a loan, an overdraft, possible re-mortgaging or by giving some type of equity stake in the business either to a bank or to a private investor by way of a percentage share of the business itself. This is often the preferred route for many people, but obviously means you giving a way share of your business to someone else. Be clear in your own mind if this is a route you are willing to go down, and if so how much equity or capital you are willing to give to someone else and for how much money in return.

When thinking about how much money you will need either to start the business up or to live on whilst the business is developing, it will help to have an idea of how long it will take before your business or service is actually beginning to earn you money. Have in mind that different types of businesses get paid in different ways. If you are in a retail business then customers might pay you cash for the transaction, if you are in different types of service work it may well be that you get paid after a given period of time which could be anything up to ninety days. Bear in mind also that if you are in this type of service work that gets paid after a particular period of time you are likely to have a lot of hassle being paid by suppliers as well as receiving payment from customers or suppliers. There is normally a chain similar to a house buying chain where people need hang onto their money because of cash flow and are reluctant to part with it. Knowing this in advance will allow you to plan for it and plan for the level of hassle as well.

Taking money in as a service or business is not the same as making a profit. Knowing when you are likely to be getting money in as well as when you’re likely to be making a profit hugely important. Investors will want to know anticipated date and earnings. You will also need to know when you are likely to start making a profit from the business simply so that you can know when you are likely to become self-supporting in your own right.

Small Business Start-Up – Starting a Green Business

Starting a business that is deemed to be environmentally friendly is a big call for people nowadays and one that receives a lot of attention both in terms of support by state and government authorities as well as by consumers. A so-called green business may literally be a business that is in the work of the environment or doing something that will help the environment. It may also be any type of business where consumers or users of the product of the business want to know that the owners are doing all they can to be eco-friendly or green friendly.

One of the most important things to do is to discover your niche find out yourself what really appeals to you and then to develop a business or product that fits into that niche. Once the initial enthusiasm for setting up and running your own business has died down a little, then what needs to kick in is your enthusiasm or excitement about the product itself. This will only really happen if you have decided upon a niche that is really relevant to you and which really excites you. It is worth spending time on this side of the business development at the outset and use the idea of what excites you as a motivator rather than what you think is going to be the most profitable area of business to go into.

One of the most important things about being an eco-friendly or green business is to have lots of certificates from people saying you are green friendly or eco-friendly. Luckily there are a number of bodies in every country and internationally that are happy to certify you assuming you meet their requirements.The importance of this is you need to know what their requirements are before you develop the business so that you can adjust the way the business is run accordingly in order to make sure it meets their requirements and you get certified accordingly.

The area of categories of certification cover the following ground. Products can easily be certified and the most obvious example of these are products are certified as organic or not. There are a number of bodies that constitute organic certification and choosing which one is most appropriate to you will determine how your product is sourced and marketed. Buildings are often certified as being green or not and this will to an extent be determined by how they are built but also how they are run in terms of fuel efficiency i.e. solar panels, electricity, carbon emission etc.

There are numerous scientific certification systems for agricultural manufacturing and electric businesses. Research what these are and whether they might be appropriate to the product or business or service you’re developing. There are a number of energy-efficient products that are certified in the United States by the Energy Star Program. This is a certification program that is widely looked to by consumers as being a factor in determining what product they buy. Knowing what the requirements are of this program will allow you to decide if your product is appropriate or not and if so to apply for such certification.

There are a number of international certifications pack can also be extremely valuable to have. Even if at the outset of your business you are not considering selling overseas there is a high chance that in the future you will want to. Knowing what the certification programs involve and whether your product fits into them will give you an opportunity to adjust your product accordingly to make sure it does. This is important both in terms of overseas exports in the future, but also shows domestic customers that you have a broader range of certification available to which will enhance your own domestic reputation. This should have a healthy impact on sales or use of the product domestically as well as internationally in the future.