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7 steps to creating a successful business plan

When you go on a trip, you usually get a map or use GPS to make sure you get where you want to go relatively easily. You don’t just jump in with no idea where you’re going or how you’ll get there.

The same should be done when starting a business. Make a plan, starting at the end. To make the plan, ask the following 7 questions:

1. Who are you?

This question really has two parts; one, who are you personally and two, who is concerned? How you want the public (and customers) to see you as a business is important, because it can inform how you proceed with every aspect of your business.

2. What do you offer?

It is true that you offer something that can be easily named, service xyz or product xyz, but what you really need to answer is what solutions are you providing? Is it freedom? It’s time? It’s something more? If you can answer that, you can move your business forward faster.

3. Who is your customer?

Customer identification is an important part of owning and running a successful business. It also doesn’t end once you find out who your client is, because you’ll have to keep studying them over time. Try creating a customer avatar so you can see it and know exactly who you are doing it for.

4. What makes your offer different?

Usually someone else offers something similar to or close to you. But there is always something that makes yours stand out from others. What is that thing? How can you emphasize what makes yours better, different, or special?

5. How will you deliver it?

It is important to know the means by which you will get your product or service to your audience. Without knowing it, it will be difficult to be successful in your business. Make these plans ahead of time.

6. How many do you need to turn in to be successful?

One thing many business owners forget to do is figure out how many widgets they need to sell (or hours if you’re at a service business) to cover expenses, and then how many to be successful. When you know this answer, you can divide it into the daily amount you need to sell. That then helps inform the rest of your plans.

7. What is your timeline for profitability and success?

Once you know all the other information, it will be easier to determine how long it will take for you to be successful. Knowing that information, you can start from the date you want to show your first profit in dollars, going back and entering the actions that you must take each year, month, week, day and even, if you want, the time of your day.

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