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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Side jobs – finding your perfect fit

Side jobs, part-time work, freelancing and start-ups are popular ways to earn extra money these days. They don’t just supplement income while working full-time; it’s becoming more and more common to use one or more of these opportunities as full-time income. This can either work out to be a career of juggling different jobs for ever or to gain experience for a certain career you wish to move in to. Some people love the variety it allows while others want to move on to something more stable and focused.

Whether, working a variety of side jobs, freelancing or part-time opportunities all allow a form of working for yourself and gaining experience. This can allow for future advancement at a particular job, focus on your own business start-up or allow you to explore different jobs until you gain experience and find something you want to do permanently. As you can see this flexible career lifestyle can offer a lot of paths to explore.

There are so many opportunities to make extra money or start a variety career lifestyle. You can read about many on any given day through a simple internet search. Some are very focused and require specific training; fitness coach, teaching Spanish, legal consultant, etc. But others are a bit more adaptable; personal shopper, event planner, freelance writer (with so many different topics out there to write about), pet sitter, etc.

I’m not saying the more adaptable options are easier or take less to do, I’m simply saying the skills to do them may already be known. A pet sitter might be a good choice for someone who has always been around animals, etc. While being a legal consultant requires more formal training and/or experience.

Before trying to force yourself into one or several of the available opportunities ask yourself what experience you already have, what you enjoy doing and what you could charge for.

Of course time is a huge factor. Do you have certain hours you are available due to a full time job, family responsibilities, classes, etc. Once that is determined you start to explore opportunities available during those hours; you may not be able to mow after a certain hour, but you could write a blog post or post a webinar about a topic you are experienced in no matter what time it is.

Here are a few questions and comments to consider when determining what side job (part-time, etc.) opportunity may be right for you and your current lifestyle –

  • What do you enjoy? Explore this, write it down, focus on how to make it a business or service to offer. Do you like photography? If you do and have a digital camera, can you offer your services as a second photographer at a wedding, corporate events, local bands that can’t afford someone that photographs full time, senior photos or high school sporting events, etc.? Be creative and be observant; what niche can your talent and passion fill? Don’t completely re-invent the wheel, just focus on a particular aspect that you can make better.
  • Do you want/need work outside the home or work from home? Answering this question allows you to explore jobs like mowing, pet walking, wedding/event planner and/or officiant, personal shopper or driver, etc. outside the home or writing, virtual assistant, web designer or content writer, online tutor, survey taker, jewelry or craft maker (selling online), etc. for working at home.
  • Do you enjoy helping people solve a problem, working with the public and communicate effectively? Do you enjoy working alone, creating more so than working face to face? Do you have internet and online work capabilities? Obviously, this answer gives much insight into what opportunities you will enjoy more than others.
  • What services are in demand in your area that will pay you to provide that service need? If you live in a neighborhood with large yards there may be an opportunity for mowing or landscaping that obviously is not in demand at an apartment complex. But if your passion is gardening and you want to work in that field but live in an area that doesn’t seem to have a need, be creative. Can you offer your services of plant watering, container gardening, cooking classes for container gardeners, etc.?
  • How much will it cost for you to offer this side job or start a business and how much should you charge? If it’s a part time job and they provide all that you need, how much does it pay? You will want to make sure it’s worth your time either by earning extra money or it provides an opportunity for you to gain experience.
  • How will you get work? You can search for part time work online through career sites or asking in person at area businesses. If you have skills to offer through side jobs or self employment, there are man sites out there to post your services on for free, you can search that particular talent/skill and see what third parties offer help finding that type of work , you can create flyers and hang them in busy places such as libraries, laundry services, public post boards, get business cards made and hand them out at any given opportunity, make yard signs and ask friends to display them in their yards for you, make or order decals for your vehicle with a web page and/or phone number as well as hats and tee shirts or other apparel, you can also advertise via social media sites and word of mouth.

There are other questions to ask yourself, but once you have focused and answered the few above you can start to search for opportunities to make money! Don’t over think it though, be adventurous and start exploring!

Do you have any tips to add? Please share them. Do you have any questions? Please ask them!

Thanks for reading, I hope this has inspired you to explore your options and to be creative.