Complete noob...where do I REALLY begin?

Discussion in 'Starting a Business' started by flyingSquirrel, Jun 10, 2012.

  1. flyingSquirrel

    flyingSquirrel
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    Hey guys, I'm new here- I posted in the intro forum earlier. Anyway, I've recently (a month ago) decided to start my own business and am struggling with prioritizing the order of things. I've done a lot of research online, brainstormed, have a TON of documents and ideas written up, links, resources, literally just sooooo much information that I'm struggling with it all. I think in general a business plan is the first step, but even then I don't know where to start. Also, the market / what I want to base my business on is not a typical or common business- essentially the idea is that I want to build custom vivariums (enclosures which house plants and animals). Since building custom vivariums will likely not yield a lot of profit, at least while I am starting out small, I would be selling products and implementing some other ideas to have additional income. To summarize, I have a lot of general information and have done a lot of reading, and I think I get the basics of where to begin....but somehow it's not helping. :confused: So, is a business plan the very first step? Am I missing something? And if I am going to write a business plan, what is truly the very first thing I need to do? Literally, the first thing...do I set up a document on my computer with a standardized business outline, then just begin filling in the sections from the beginning? What is the most important beginning section for a business plan? Perhaps I'm just overwhelmed with information and could use some experienced outsiders to hold me still and point me in the right direction.

    Thank you so much for any advice you can offer! :)
     
  2. sayitproud

    sayitproud
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    flyingSquirrel,

    There are some nice templates out there for business plans that will make sure you don't miss any important areas. Look through some of them and pick the best one or combine the best of the ones you find. You should use the plan as a way to simply provoke you to think about all the important aspects like what your exact product and service will be, pricing, who your competition is, how you will reach your suppliers and customers and so on.

    In that process you might find your mind is changed about how to go about it or that you realize it isn't the right niche. Adapt as you go.

    the process of writing the plan is an exploration.
     
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  3. ArcSine

    ArcSine
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    "the process of writing the plan is an exploration." Excellent advice from sayitproud.

    flyingSquirrel, don't approach the business plan process too rigidly, as in "exactly what form do I use, and exactly how do I fill it in, in exactly what order?"

    Preparing a biz plan will do two important things for you: (1) Help you organize your thoughts; and (2) make you aware of a bunch of questions you hadn't thought to ask. That second one is golden; you certainly want to cover all the bases, and preparing the business plan will help you realize just what those bases are.

    Instead of getting caught up in a rigid, precise approach to it, find a number of different plans and plan templates, just as sayitproud suggests. You'll see that there's no one single layout or structure, but you'll also notice that the plans tend to have a lot of things in common, in terms of the issues and topics they address, regardless of the specific way they're laid out.

    As you then begin to develop your own plan, there's no need for formality at first. Just let the plan examples you've found lead you into the various issues you need to address in your own plan, and then organize your issues in whatever manner is convenient. Later on, when you feel you've thoroughly addressed each important question with thoughtful research, you can re-organize it all into a more standardized layout. That'll be the easy part; doing your homework beforehand on the key issues and questions is by far the more important part.

    You'll be pleasantly surprised at how the process of creating your biz plan will actually teach you a lot more about your proposed business idea, than you know at the moment. Best of success with it!
     
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  4. flyingSquirrel

    flyingSquirrel
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    thank you

    sayitproud, and ArcSine,

    Thank you both so much for replying to my questions. You have both greatly helped me understand where I was "going wrong"...you've helped me see that the biz plan is a more organic process than I originally thought. This is somewhat of a relief actually, because it seems (very slightly) less daunting, lol. Nevertheless, I'm sure it will still be very challenging and time consuming, but I am looking past all of that and telling myself that the hard work will be worth it when my business is actually up and running, and I'm spending each day being involved in things that I enjoy.

    I've just done some research online and found a few example business plan templates from several different sites. There even seems to be something on the SBA site that walks you through doing a plan (though I need to look at it more carefully to make sure that's what it really is). Anyway, I'll find several more, then read through them all and see which ones "feel" right to me and/or combine elements of them. Are there any sample business plans anywhere on this forum website?

    Side note..there seem to be actual free online courses from SBA, though I'm not sure how good they are. Are there any FREE online business courses that you can recommend from other sites? Websites with lots of info are great and all, but there is something nice about an "online course" that walks you through things step by step.

    Thanks again for all of your help. I am really glad I found this site, and I'm sure I'll be posting a lot on here :D
     
  5. StarBC

    StarBC
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    Contact your local SBDC or COMBA Centers for free biz plan writing workshops. They are really helpful and you can ask your questions and make appointments for free consultations. Those guys are doing a great job without charging you a dollar.
     
  6. sayitproud

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    You're welcome flyingSquirrel and best of luck.

    One last piece of advice. Define for yourself what the purpose of the business plan is. Is it just to help you get clear on your plan? Or do you expect to give the plan to others to seek investment, for example? This kind of thing will also help you determine how detailed you need to be. Know your audience.
     

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