I believe that the following simple plans are adequate for most low-cost, low-risk service businesses. These plans are also a good introduction to a business startup even if you don't expect to use a formal startup plan.
After you have reviewed these simple plans you may wish to return to this section to review or study the detailed plan.
The following plan consists of three stages, with their included steps. Each step is described on a separate web page. Here are the topics for this longer plan:
Stage 1: Selecting a suitable business idea
The information on this separate page can help you use the standard features of each step in the detailed plan.
Purpose of this stage is to select a business idea that meets your requirements and the needs and desires of prospective customers.
Defining Your Requirements -- This step develops a list of requirements that a suitable business idea must satisfy.
Finding a Potential Idea -- This step finds a potential business idea that satisfies your requirements, and appears to satisfy a current need of likely customers.
Reviewing the Market -- This step reviews the advertisements of your competitors, and extracts key information. It also finds out whether there is a demand for your proposed product.
Purpose of this stage is to complete an adequate amount of planning and advance preparations, and limit the cash expenditures.
Another purpose is to test your willingness to carry out the somewhat tedious planning and preparation procedures. The premise is this: if you can't carry out these simple tasks, what are your chances of running a successful small business?
Refining the Product -- This step shows you how to enhance the design of your main product, and any optional features.
Developing the Sales Program -- This step shows how to develop a sales program that can attract a sufficient number of customers at a reasonable cost.
Designing Business Operations -- During this step, you will decide on the organization and operations of your proposed business venture.
Listing the Startup Requirements -- This step develops a list of actions and objectives that you must accomplish before starting actual business operations.
Planning Costs and Expenses -- During this step, you plan how to minimize your costs and expenses. This will make your business venture profitable as soon as possible.
Purpose of this stage is to get serious about your small business startup. The previous two stages were all about preparing paper work that incurred only some small expenses. Now that you have proved your business concept and your ability to get things done, the stakes will be higher.
You will be incurring some larger expenses while setting up your business and actually starting business operations.
Actual business operations will test your ability to control your business, get customers, deliver the product, and make a profit. Later you can expand your successful business to the extent desired.
Being Able to Produce the Product -- This step shows you how to produce a quality product. The term product refers to goods, services, or information. A quality product can satisfy the needs and desires of likely customers at a price they can afford.
Gathering the Needed Resources -- During this step, you gather the resources needed for your small business startup. These resources refer mainly to cash. But they may also include furnishings, equipment, supplies, loan agreements, and a personal commitment.
Setting up a Home Office -- During this step in your small business startup, you set up a home office. This home office will make it easier for you to prepare for the start of business operations.
Setting up an Accounting System -- During this step in your small business startup, you will set up a computerized or hand-written accounting system. You will also design reports to monitor and control operating results.
Completing the Startup Requirements -- During this step in your small business startup, you will satisfy all remaining startup requirements. This means to either complete them or show them on an updated list of startup requirements.
Starting Business Operations -- During this step in your small business startup, you begin business operations. This means to promote and sell your product, collect the sales proceeds, pay your bills, and carry on other routine business activities.
Improving Customer Satisfaction -- During this step in your small business startup, you will improve how your customers feel about your product and your company. You will do this by making certain changes to your product, promotion of the product, sales proposition, and/or interactions with customers.
Increasing Sales and Cash Flow -- This final step in your small business startup shows how to increase sales and cash flow. First, you will eliminate any operational problems. Then you will use various methods to increase sales and cash flow.