From Business Plan to Online Business
Before you officially "open the doors" of your e-business, you need to create a business
plan. Turn your business idea into a plan that will help you succeed (or you may find while
going through this process that it is better to scrap the idea and come up with something better).
Putting a business plan together may seem like a daunting task. I will take you step
by step through the process of creating a business plan, making the process a little easier
for you. Putting a business plan together will include completing a market analysis, a competitive
analysis, an advertising plan, pricing, branding, a sales strategy, and much more. This article
will go over some of the basics.
You will want to consider marketing, financing, your target market, distribution of your
product, finding out who your competition is, etc. In addition to considering these factors,
you will want to set realistic goals for your small business.
What is your Company's Purpose?
What is the purpose of your e-business? To make money, right? That's one purpose. What
are some others? Perhaps you have created or found a product that the world just can't live
without and you want to share it. Maybe you offer a service that will help others. You might
have a hobby that you want to turn into a profession. Write down your purpose, whatever it is.
After you know what your purpose is, answer the following questions:
• Why am I committing my time and resources to this endeavor?
• How will I be helping others?
• What needs will this business meet?
• How will I be helping myself (owner), or ourselves (owners)?
• What "greater good" will be served with this business?
Once you have answered these questions, you can form your company's mission statement.
Your mission statement identifies your company. Keep your mission statement to a few sentences.
You can adjust your mission statement as your company grows and changes, but the core values
included in your mission statement should remain the same.
Preparing to Launch Your Online Business - Strengths and Weaknesses
As you go through the process of planning your online business, you may not have the
answer to every question we ask. Don't worry if you don't have all of the answers now, because
that is the whole point of doing this plan-to help you find and discover the areas that might
sneak up and get you in the future.
Having gone through the process of putting this plan in place, however, you will be better
prepared to face unexpected turns and situations. Answer the questions you can and think about
the ones you can't. There are a lot of details that will come together as you go through this process.
Part of making your online business successful is knowing your strengths and your weaknesses,
along with the (potential) strengths and weaknesses of your company. What are you good at?
What is your company good at?
• What are the strengths of your products? Price? Selection? Variety? Quality? Brand association?
• What are the strengths of you and your partners or team?
• What are your strengths with respect to reaching customers and telling them about your product?
• What are your leadership or organizational strengths?
• What is the vision of your company and how is that a strength?
The answers to the above questions may be the reasons you want to start an online business
in the first place. You must also look at your weaknesses. Good business owners strive to identify
areas of weakness so they can turn them around and make them areas of strength. It's better
for you to discover weaknesses than your competitors or customers to discover them for you!
• How will the business run from start to finish?
• Do we need to hire people?
• Where will our products come from?
• How will we get the word out about our company?
• Do we have enough money to survive the start-up phase?
• Do we have a good system in place to track orders and make sure our customers are happy?