Holistic planning includes the situation, strategy, and tactics (more on this below).
This page includes...
If you are thinking of starting a business, check with your state, county, and city for any specific licenses for your business. Unless you plan to just start it as a hobby. Check the IRS article Hobby or Business? for details on the difference of a hobby or business. However, starting an official LLC or corporation gives you some protections.
A traditional business plan is usually a 10-50 page plan with many details. Unfortunately, many of those details will change in a year. But going through the planning process helps learn about the industry and the market. Traditional plans are usually required to get funding from a bank or lending institution.
A lean plan is a 1-3 page plan that only records bullet points to the most important parts of the organization. Some lean plans can be used in for profit and nonprofit organizations.
Why a lean plan? It's the most convenient way to increase clarity. This makes regular planning easy with a simple review and renew process. Putting all the parts on the same page allow a better view of how they all interact and how changing one part will affect the others.
The typical traditional business plan includes the following: An executive summary, company description, company structure, the product or service, the market, and the financials.
You can find a traditional business plan template at the government's Small Business Administration site.
You can download the free one-page "Playbook" lean plan from the Table Group. This works with for profit or not for profit businesses. The Playbook is explained in the book The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni. This is based on his decades of experience with for profits and nonprofits. You can download the Playbook and many other free resources (no email necessary) at his business website, The Table Group free organizational health resources.
You can download the Business Model Canvas at Strategyzer. Founded in academic research and experience. Being taught in University entrepreneur classes. You can get dozens of free downloads and videos including the Business Model Canvas after you register with Strategyzer. The nine parts of the Busines Model Canvas are...
Where to find free business plan examples
You can also find free examples of specific traditional business plans in the Business Plans Handbook. Your local library might have a copy you can look at or copy. You can find hundreds of free examples at Reference For Business and Bplans. You can search both sites for specific plans.
Business planning can be as simple as taking time to think about the future of the business and the next steps, or it can be lean planning (1-3 pages), or traditional planning (5-50 pages). Either way the main elements of any business that could be planned for include the following.
Situation: Perspective (research), Purpose (vision), Performance (values), People, and Processes.
Strategy: Persona (customer segment), Problem, Position (logical), Personality (emotional brand), and Proposition.
Tactics: Product, Pricing, Placement, Promotion, Potential (sales), Payments (incoming), Payables (outgoing), Profits (or proceeds), Partners, and Priorities.
Thinking about starting a business? Consider first learning about your state's specific business requirements or your industry.
Want free advice from business people in your state? Consider the Small Business Development Center SBDC search or Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) also offers free consulting and online courses.
Here are some of the most popular types of business models.
Independent Traditional Business Model
This model allows you to change the business in any way and keep all your profits, but you have to figure out the profit thing on your own. The word 'traditional' means a business in a mature or competitive industry, people are familiar with it. Some of the popular types of independent traditional businesses that don't require a lot of experience include your coffee shops, cafes, child day care, gym, food truck, or cleaning service.
Interested in supporting independent businesses... National Federation of Independent Businesses (Small Business Association).
Franchise Business Model
Most people think of a franchise as very expensive to start. If you are considering a McDonald's, yes, However, there are some that won't require a loan. Click here to find the 13 best affordable frachises.
The beauty of a franchise is that they have proven their business model and have the people and resources to help you get started, and it's in their best interest that you succeed, because you will be sharing some of your profits with them every year for the franchise.
Want to learn more check the Franchise Business Review.
Entrepreneurial "Startup" Business Model
This model also allows you to keep all your profits, but instead of a mature competitive industry it starts a new market with a new product or service that has not been done before. This is often thought of when using the word entrepreneur and commonly referred to as a "startup." I like to refer to them as venture businesses.
These are also referred to as a "blue ocean" business, with the previous type, traditional competitive business, referred to as a "red ocean" business. This comes from the idea of sharks feeding in the ocean. When these grow to over a billion $ they are referred to as a "unicorn."
One of the best startup articles I've found online is the Startup Playbook from Sam Altman of Y Combinator. This includes an mp3 of each topic so you can listen while you drive or work. The topics include the idea, a great team, a great product, and great execution.
Example 'unicorn' startups include Google, Facebook, and AirBnB. The term 'unicorn' is a business that is valued over $1 billion. CB Insights has an interesting unicorn world map that shows all the unicorn businesses in the world, but it will cost you an email.
Independent Sales Agent or Manufacturer's Representative Business Model
These positions are often 100% commission and pay their own expenses in exchange to be an exclusive agent for a specific area.
This allows companies to use such reps with a low risk and overhead. These positions are usually filled with experienced sales people. Interested in this, find out more at the Manufacturers & Agents website.
Network Marketing or Direct Sales Business Model
Also referred to as Multi-Level Marketing. This model provides commissions from sales you make and from sales other people (that you brought into the business). In other words, imagine you started selling MLM product X, and you convinced someone to also sell the same stuff. You would get a small commission from what you sell and a slightly smaller commission from what they sell.
Be careful of a company that pays you to actually recruit others, that's where it gets illegal, like a pyramid scheme.
Some of the larger legit network marketing businesss are Amway, Avon, Mary Kay, Primerica, and Advocare. Find a list of the best MLM companies at MLMCompanies.org.
Ecommerce Business Model
Some of the more recently popular online business models include selling on Amazon, ebay, and Etsy. You can also create your own store with a Shopify account that provides a website and blog, or if you are a fan of open source software consider Magento, the Shopify open source alternative.
Printify can help you start selling T shirts online fairly quick.
Find a great article on this business model at the Ecommerce CEO. How to start an ecommerce business from scratch.
Blogging and Affiliate Marketing Business Model
This allows you to spend some time sharing information about your experience and interests to help others and maybe make some money doing it.
Affiliate marketing or sales is like social responsibility or giving back to society. It's when a business provides their products or services to others to sell for them and provide them with a commission.
Example, if you are a creative photographer and you blog about photography, consider being an affiliate for Adobe and sell their products for a commission.
If you blog about social media consider being an affiliate for a social media management business like Social Pilot and a visual creative site like Canva.
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