So, you want to start a business? Step one, create a business plan

Whether a hopeful business owner spends hours on the computer researching possible business ideas or wakes from a sound sleep with a great scheme, business ideas come quickly in many different ways. The initial excitement may make the person a bit too eager to begin working on business dealings, though this could potentially hinder a business’ success in the long run.

Instead of blindly jumping into the role of business owner without doing the proper research, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends people first create a thorough business plan that could pinpoint a business’ direction and purpose while keeping everything organized and stress free.

Essential elements of a well-thought-out small business plan may include:

• Business purpose – What is the goal in creating this company?

• Related industry and competitors – What companies will the business be up against? What industry predictions could affect the business?

• Business description – What exactly does the business do and what makes it different? Who are the ideal customers?

• Business organization – Detail possible company structures. Although the business is merely a concept, what would be ideal?

• Marketing and sales goals – How will people find out about the business? Also include how the company could be described to attract future customers.

• Services and products – Describe what the business will sell and how it can benefit people. Will certain demographics be more apt to purchase?

• Funding options – Starting a business is rarely cheap. How will sufficient startup funding be achieved?

• Miscellaneous information – This varies by the type of business being planned. Include information about additional business requirements – such as permits and licenses – that must be attained before the company can open for business.

The SBA recommends future and current business owners not rush to make a complete business plan, as the process could take months – even years – to effectively create. Although most small businesses change and evolve based on current trends, a business plan projects up to five years in the future. Including information about how to reach long-term goals could provide transition into the next business plan.

Businesses may also want to consider incorporating workplace safety tips and goals and plans into new business brainstorming. A free safety template checklist can be found on the SCF Arizona website.

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