Do you need a mini business plan?

I add the word ‘mini’ before business plan because I think a personal or mini business plan is important for anyone wanting to work for themselves, start a part time or ‘side gig’ business, expand a current small business venture, etc. Typically, if you want funding for a larger start up you must submit a business plan, so I have downsized the larger multiple page document to fit into a personal sort of mission statement for anyone wanting to (or simply thinking about) starting a small business, earn some extra money with the creative professional talents you have or explore the BIPs I’ve previously published on this same blog!

Benefits of a Mini Business plan: A mini business plan can help you even if you are not asking for funding to build your business. It’s a good opportunity to fully grasp what your idea for a business will look like, confirm it’s what you want, and help you take the steps to achieve it. Most small businesses start without large expenses, but if you are requesting funding, this will help you with the basics and prepare for the professional business plan you may need to present to lenders, funding sources, etc.

Grab a notebook or create an electronic document and keep all of this information in one place, along with notes, advertising ideas, goals, etc. Your notebook/electronic file is a good place to keep all receipts related to your business including mileage (if applicable) and other forms, and general information. This will be a ‘living’ document/notebook; ideas will expand, etc. and you need to capture those thoughts on ‘paper’.

Below is a basic mini plan outline. I will provide a mini plan example in a future post as an additional resource.  If you have any questions please contact me!

Executive Summary – This is the first basic section of any type of business plan. Once you have an idea swirling around your head, you’ll want to write your executive summary. Even if you don’t complete the next sections, this is typically the most important for anyone at the start of planning a business. This section will allow you to explore what you want to do, how to do it, and if it’s really what you want. It is your opportunity to shine and describe your focus well. Typically, it’s about a half page (up to a full page). The main reason for this section is to explain your idea; what is it, who will need/want it, what makes it unique or in demand. Include the company name and a one sentence mission statement if you have one A mission statement is typically a brief definition of your business/idea.

Company overview – This is for company goals and to find out which business type you want; sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Corp (LLC), etc. these will be defined in an upcoming post labeled Types of businesses. Since you may not be ready to define your business type, don’t dwell on this section, just make a note that you may need to define it at some point in the future. Include an overview of marketing ideas and and business goals. Include a brief statement on expenses, and what costs are required up front to get started. Explain how you could expand the business; a brief statement about future growth. Include any experience you have with this idea and any experience with business in general including achievements and goals met (if any). Remember, this is all for your eyes only right now, to encourage you to turn that thought of a side business into possible reality!

Market Research outcome – Overview of the industry in general and research results of  competitors, give details of customers interested in your services (demographics, etc.), highlight the market strengths and weaknesses in general (nation and world wide) and focus on the same for local competitors. Include any statistics you can find on this particular market/idea/business.

Product/Service Description – Focus on what your service is and how it will benefit the client. You can start including projected net revenue information and details about vendors you will purchase supplies from. You can add graphs and diagrams here if feel it will better help explain this section. Touch base on competition and why you are different or plan to excel even with competition out there. I find reading reviews of customers about similar businesses can help you see what is working and what is not.

Highlight ideas to expand products or services; give more details than before and how often you can provide this service to each client (can you do repeat business?). This is an opportunity to show your unique twist on an existing market (do you have a unique skill, unique target audience or additional service to combine with it, etc.?).

Marketing Plan – This section is to give details of the operation; purchasing supplies, marketing to clients, list of services or products provided, ideas for following up with clients, and specific details of word of mouth and repeat customer options. Explain how you will find customers; details of how to reach out to them, advertising options, and costs. Include promotion ideas and pricing, email or flyer campaign ideas, etc.  Include the days and hours you plan to operate. Again, some of this may not apply right now, don’t dwell on the details, until you find it necessary as your business idea grows!

Organizational chart – If you plan on having employees you will want to detail why, who and what they will bring to the company; their skills, etc. Explain why a certain person is experienced and skilled to be in a certain position. If you can provide the service or product by yourself describe why and how.

Financial Section – This section will give you an idea of what the start up will cost with possible profit. Write out a complete list and cost of materials, hours it will take to complete each job, number of people and pay for each ’employee’ (or yourself), recurring expenses, up front equipment expenses and maintenance, etc. Once you have this, you will have a base price for your services to just break even, so it will help you determine what to charge. For professional plans you will need to outline your budget in details listing assets, cash flow chart, expenses, current profit, expected profit, etc.

This may seem overwhelming, but allow it to be a focus catalyst. This is a large step toward taking your idea seriously! This makes it real, not just a dream floating around. The executive summary provides you with concrete details and confirmation it’s the right business for you. Some people will decide to change their focus once they write it out and see the time restraints or spend time researching competition and end up finding another focus they feel more comfortable with. Others will be even more determined and inspired by seeing it on paper, knowing it’s what they want to do.

What’s your idea or business plan? Let me know!

Are you struggling to come up with an idea, but want to start a business? Visit the Business Idea Prompts (BIPs) listed throughout this blog. The prompts provide detailed business ideas with specifics on how to turn a hobby into a part time or full time business! Marketing and additional information to get started and grow are included!

Thank you for reading and again, please contact me if you have any questions!

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Holiday helper – Business Idea Prompt (BIP)

Today’s BIP is encouraged by the holiday season, but could work for various events and/or other holidays. Keeping with the ‘BIP’ theme – it requires little start-up costs, is flexible, can be full or part time, and does not require extensive skills or experience to succeed. As usual with typical BIPs, most skills needed can be easily learned through practice or may already be known by most.

Please see the Business Idea page for detailed information about my Business Idea Prompt (BIP) posts! Also, if this not your area of interest please explore the other BIP posts including ‘garage sale’ professional, house call canning and teaching your talent!

I hope you enjoy this BIP and you are inspired to explore your own possibilities!

Business Idea Prompt (BIP) – Holiday “Extra Income” Ideas (that can be all year)

Details – I overheard a small group of women (various ages) talking the other day about trying to fit in all of their holiday ‘to-do list items’. One mentioned wrapping presents was not her favorite thing to do, another mentioned holiday lights and even putting up a Christmas tree. Other unfavorable ‘chores’ mentioned included shopping, baking, yard maintenance, and laundry in general. The group stated that of course their other responsibilities did not stop during the holiday; carpooling, housework, day jobs, etc. This reminded me of a few friends who have taken on ‘side jobs’ during holiday season and even other times of the year to help alleviate stress for customers (like the group of women talking about their long list of to dos).

Side jobs and full or part time businesses rely on finding customers willing to pay for their service(s). A major need, especially this time of year, is finding time for errands, chores, and other time demanding tasks while still balancing a regular life routine.

I encourage you to think of how you can help neighbors, friends, family, even strangers with some of their ‘to do list items’. I am going to focus on a few items which are based on conversations I have overheard recently and seem to be in demand!

Gift wrapping, holiday shopping, errands and baking are my top four suggestions. Each of these are typically ‘added’ tasks the average person needs to somehow fit into their schedule during certain times of the year. And they are willing to pay to have someone else do them.

Gift wrapping – You can offer to drive to their chosen location (work or home, etc.) or have them drop off the gifts to you and wrap them. Using nice wrapping paper, bows, labels, etc. Someone had told me they paid to have all their gifts wrapped one year and it was well worth the money. That person had moved and was not able to provide that service again or she would still be paying her. The ‘wrapper’ would come to her house, bring the wrapping paper, tape, scissors, etc. and wrap every single present for a start out rate of $20 per hour with a 2 hour minimum and mileage if more than 20 miles. Of course rates could be per package or bundle.

Errands and Holiday shopping – These two are similar and pretty self explanatory. People will pay for someone to run errands, pick up gifts, dry cleaning, decorations, deliver pre-made foods or even wine. Rates depend on travel time, distance, number of stops, but an average of $25 an hour plus cost of any items being picked up/purchased is a good starting place.

Baking – of course there is some skill needed if you plan on baking cakes or other desserts or even main courses and delivering them. And certain local laws prohibit using a personal kitchen so check out your local city/county/state laws before offering these services. Note, you can use a local baker or chain bakery that is already established and simply place the order, work out the details, and deliver the finished baked good. Price is comparable to running errands if you are driving around.

Experience/Skill Needed – Different experience levels are needed for each of the above ideas. Most require a dependable car, customer service skills, basic and/or advance wrapping skills and possible baking skills. Generally, when working with people and providing services for such important events as family gatherings and holidays being flexible and a very good communicator are essential skills as well. For wrapping you would need wrapping paper, scissors, tape, bows, labels, etc. Offer something unique, like putting candy canes on each package or a small ornament or other unique ‘bonus’ you can offer. If you know calligraphy or have very nice handwriting you can hand write package labels, holiday cards, address envelopes, etc.

Marketing – Advertise with flyers and print up some reasonably priced business cards. Handing them out to pretty much anyone you know. You can create a web site, share your services via social media and even advertise via a sign on your vehicle and/or yard signs. Your web page should include price range, contact information and customer reviews (as you get them). Even free sites and a unique business email are great resources to help your business grow professionally.

Additional advertising ideas include – Posting signs in your own yard (and ask friends if you can post in their yards) and in the surrounding neighborhood(s) with your service offered, phone number and web site. For a reasonable price you can place sale ads in local papers or online and encourage all customers to contact you for future events and share your info with their friends (offer a discount or incentive) and offer wrapping services and/or errand running for other parties; ladies night out, baby showers, weddings, family reunions, etc. Leave business cards and flyers at libraries, post offices and on other community boards. Include your website on the cards and flyers and place a magnet decal on your vehicle with contact information. Wear shirts and/or hats with website or other helpful advertising information. Be open to taking requests from customers; year long errands, chores, etc.

Research – The only research that may be needed is to find an average price for services and to see how many competitors are out there. Read reviews of other wrapping and errand services to see what is working and what is not and focus on creating a customer friendly business.

Even if this is not your type of business, it sure sounds fun and in demand as well. If you aren’t interested in this topic, please read over it and brainstorm your own skills and interests. Ask yourself would someone pay money for this skill? Then turn that thought into action!

I know this was a long post, but thank you for reading and please share any tips or questions you have!

As with any business please check local and state guidelines to see what licenses, name registering, and other requirements may be needed before starting your business.

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Flexible and fun – Business Idea Prompt (BIP)

I’m particularly excited about BIPs like the one highlighted today, Garage Sale Professional, that require very little start-up costs, are flexible and can be full or part time, and do not require extensive skills or experience to succeed.

I hope you enjoy this BIP and you are inspired to explore your own possibilities!

Please see the Business Idea page for detailed information about my Business Idea Prompt (BIP) posts!

Business Idea Prompt (BIP) – Garage Sale Professional

Details – Purchase and sell bargain items as a ‘yard/garage sale professional’. Items to sell can be found by attending auctions, sales, and consignment or thrift stores then reselling the items for a profit, but instead of just a one time summer event, it can be done every weekend or a few times a month. Most people have unwanted items in their home right now that could easily kick off the selling process and grow as quickly or slowly as you wish! Typically, all sorts of bargains can be found easily and with a bit of cleanup or repair the item can be sold to make a profit. Some entrepreneurs have similar online stores on eBay and amazon and make a profit every single day.

I have a neighbor that holds a ‘yard/garage’ sale almost every weekend in the spring, summer and fall with items she buys at a bargain price and then turns around and sells them for a profit. She and her husband visit discount shops and auctions within a few hours of their home in the winter and early spring or as often as she can to buy and stock up on items. The couple cleans the items or repairs, if needed, and sometimes they find a unique new use; she has made old pans into pretty planting pots, etc. This business is not only a way to earn extra income, but also a fun way to enjoy the hunt of a good deal and the weekend travels. There is no listing fee to pay and she can negotiate a price at any given moment in person. If you are a crafty person, include some of your handmade items for sale!

Experience/Skills Needed – You will need transportation or a way to purchase discounted and bargain items and clean them or basic skills to repair items (if needed). Be a bargain finder, deal maker, professional and friendly with sellers and customers. Decide if you accept only cash or offer a credit card payment option (using your tablet or smartphone, etc.), be available to travel around to find bargains, knowledge of items that will re-sale and are in demand. And you may need access to a storage area, basement or garage for all the items you purchase and may need to fix or clean. General record keeping skills are beneficial; keep an electronic or paper notebook record of each item and the cost and what you sold it for, so you can see your profit in ‘writing’ and what items are the best profit makers.

Marketing – Posts signs in your own yard all season and post them in the surrounding neighborhood(s) right before a sale, place sale ads in local papers or online and encourage all customers to come back often since new items are always added. Give each customer a flyer of sell dates or a business card with general hours, address, etc. Share your sale dates on social media and with family and friends. Leave business cards and sale date flyers at local businesses, hardware stores, libraries, post offices and on other community boards. You may want to include a website on the cards and flyers; an electronic newsletter or web page with updates for customers to subscribe to. Place a magnet decal on your vehicle with contact information. Wear shirts and/or hats with website or other helpful advertising information. Be open to taking requests from customers such as; “if you see this particular item, please buy it”. If you purchase a group of items and they will ship well, list them on an auction or online selling site as additional income opportunity.

Research – The only research that may be needed is to find an average price for most items. Of course this can be based on your cost and the profit you need/want to make, but a general guideline could be useful to ensure the sell. If you purchase an antique, looking up the value and average retail price would be helpful (if possible do this before you purchase the item via tablet or cell phone).

Bonus idea – This BIP could easily grow into a larger business. Expanding this to online auctions sites or Etsy (or similar) could be niche markets if you find a particular item selling well and if it would be easy to find more and easy to ship, etc.

There are a few expansion options with this BIP and small start up costs! Please share any tips, ideas, and success stories!

As with any business please check local and state guidelines to see what licenses, name registering, and other requirements may be needed before starting your business.

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