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Business Planning

Learn about the importance of business planning for starting a new business and succeeding.

Easy Steps to Starting a Solid New Business - Here's what you need to get started and succeed.

by Kevin Nunley

When my house was built, whoever attached the front door put the hinges on the wrong side. Now, every time anyone goes in or out the door, it's ten times more awkward than it should be. Some day I'll get around to fixing that door. I can never seem to find the time. It sure would have saved me a lot of trouble if whoever had installed that door had thought through the placement and done a little planning.

When it comes to building, whether it be a house or a business, it's a lot easier to prevent problems with planning than to deal with them once they've already happened.

How many contractors do you know who show up on the job site to build a house with no plans, no blue prints, and no idea what they want to do? I'm going to cross my fingers and hope you don't know any, because building something without a plan is a sure recipe for disaster.

So, if you're thinking of starting and building your own business, the only way to prevent problems later on is to use proper planning techniques today. The most effective and least expensive time to plan your business's future is before it has begun. And if you've already started your business, there is no time like the present to start planning for the future.

The tips below will help guide you through the architecture phase of starting your business, enabling you to create a blue print for success:

Phase One: The Idea

Don't wait to start your business until an absolutely brilliant, mind blowing, never heard of idea pops into your head. Truly groundbreaking business ideas are rare, and you don't want to wait around for years before you get a real one to start your business. Most businesses are based on good ideas, and there are plenty of those to go around.

Don't reinvent the wheel; just make it work better. Once you have your idea, find out who else is doing it, and especially how they are doing it. Then improve on their model. You can even talk to some of their customers and find out what they didn't find satisfactory about your future competitor, and what they think could have been improved. Then you can be sure not to make the same mistakes with your own business.

Phase 2: Consult with the Experts

Consulting with a lawyer, accountant, and business coach while still in the planning stages will prevent many challenges and frustrations later on in your business. These people can help you with the numbers of your business plan, and help you get your business in business without making the mistakes others do.

Phase 3: Market Research

Yes, the word research makes us all want to cringe. After all, how can you do research without arduous hours in the library, reading until your eyes are bleary and falling asleep on an open book? You can relax, because that scenario is not necessary for gathering market information. There are much better ways of doing market research than heading to the library:

*Talk to local experts in subjects related to your business idea.

*Join a trade association and pump the other members for information

*Government reports provide already compiled studies that can help you understand your target market

*Do a survey. You get incredibly valuable information from a survey as long as you ask the right questions and poll the right people.

Phase 4: Your Target Market

You can't sell to people if you don't know who they are. Knowing your target demographic is vital to every business. Without that knowledge, you can't market in the right places, say the right things in your marketing, or meet any of your prospects' needs.

Write a description of your target customer, answering the following questions:

*What does this person do?

*How old is this person?

*What problems does this person have?

*What does this person value most?

*How does this person approach spending money on products and services?

*How much money does this person make?

*Does this person have children?

*Is there something that makes this person different from the rest of the population?

There are many more questions you'll have to ask yourself about your target market, but if you genuinely care about them and want to meet their needs, the questions will come to you automatically, along with the answers.

Phase 5: Naming the Price

The right to charge high prices for your products or services usually comes with time, after developing a reputation and many business relationships. As a newbie, you should probably keep your prices in about the middle of the accepted price range.

Don't try to enter a new business and compete on price. Aim for getting repeat customers by competing on value and customer service, or whatever your competition is lacking. There has to be a reason for customers to choose you over the competition, and believe me, high prices are not going to win their business.

Phase 6: Ready, Set, GO!

Once you've completed the above phases, you're ready to jump in, but go feet first, not head first (save your head for more planning). Keep working with advisors, consultants, clients, and prospects to improve your business's future potential. Take time to talk to your employees and see how things are going. Listen to their concerns and try to make changes to keep a positive working environment.

And keep redefining and getting to know your target market. You'll continue to discover things about them you didn't already know, and that will help you cater to their needs more effectively.

Kevin Nunley provides marketing advice and copy writing for businesses and organizations. Read all his money-saving marketing tips at DrNunley.com. Reach him at kevin@drnunley.com or 603-249-9519.

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