Online Business Plan
ONLINE BUSINESS PLANS
Are They Different?
What's the first thing to know about an online business plan?
To answer that question we asked our family business finance expert David Jones, an executive with the Family Business Institute
Family Business Institute
David is a senior level financial expert (MBA Chartered Accountant)and an expert in on-line strategies for family businesses.
In addition to his experience in financial matters, David was one of the first Certified Web Masters for the most successful web site building platform
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Here are some thoughts and observations from David when when asked him about business plans for an online business:
Simple! Online business plans basically are the same as any other business plan.
But there are 7 ways that it might be different, so I'll focus on these differences for you.
I do think that every business should have a plan (Ben Franklin was right when he said that to fail to plan is to plan to fail...)!
should have a business plan.
To refresh your memory about business plans, you may want to check out our section on
Rather than reiterate a lot of ideas that are already on this site, I'm going to suggest that you spend a few minutes there to learn or refresh your memory about business plans. You'll find information about templates and outlines, software, and links to free business plans and free business plan software - more than enough to get you ready!
Starting your family ebusiness could apply to most anyone and most any business. So, an online business plan is almost a universal topic also. But, I'm going to simplify here so we can keep it short and easy to digest. Your interest in one probably stems from one of two reasons:
- you are involved in a business already and that business has unsuccessfully tried to start an online business, or is thinking about starting one;
- you are an individual who has unsuccessfully tried to start an online business, or is thinking about starting one.
If you have been involved in an unsuccessful online business attempt, there is one question... "Did you plan it adequately?" Probably not. So, do some planning now and see if that doesn't help.
If you haven't yet started, now is the time...
Let's consider 7 ways that an online business plan might differ from any other business plan.
- Online business plan - outline or template
"Do I need to complete all the sections? The outline you showed seems awfully complex..."
NO! Just what is relevant to your new business. For example, you might not have an "organization" or a "management team" if you are starting your own small business; whereas an existing business that is going online will have a few people involved, so that is all they will talk about.
[By the way, even for large business opportunities needing to raise a lot of money, not all sections will be relevant from a standard outline.]
To some extent, an outline like I showed you can be like a checklist... think about the points and if they are relevant deal with them, if not, go on to the next.
- Who Will Read Your Online Business Plan?
Here's the area of big difference from business plans in general. You or your immediate family and friends might be the ONLY people to read your online business plan. Very different from the wide circle of potential readers I usually identify.
So, the temptation might be to not even write an online business plan, especially if you are the only person involved.
However, I still think you should write one so that you know what you have planned and the goals you have set... but keep it simple - maybe even just handwritten notes, certainly no need to use an elaborate and expensive program.
- When Will Your Online Business Plan Be Used?
Yours might only be used when you need to refer to it... very different from all the potential uses of one for a larger business that is raising money.
Read it often and don't be afraid to change it as necessary...
- What Your Plan Should Include?
Like I said under "outline or template" above - just what is relevant for you.
- Who Should Write Your Online Business Plan?
Period. End of discussion.
- How Should You Write Your Online Business Plan?
Why not just add a divider or tab to a binder. Use Notepad or Microsoft Word or any other text editor or word processor that is on one of your computers. Before you know it, you'll have most of it done!
- Financials / Budget In Your Online Business Plan?
You probably won't be borrowing or raising money, but it is still important to include a budget section... perhaps you don't need pro forma financials, but you do need to know how much money and for how long you will need to support your online business until it supports itself and you.
Hint: don't believe the promises of huge amounts of money... that you will earn immediately... with no effort on your part. Playing the lottery probably has better odds - and you know how lousy those odds are!
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