Creating a Successful Business Plan|
Success in business begins with a plan. By committing your idea to paper, you face tough questions and identify strengths and weaknesses. Business plans are not just for financing purposes; they are working documents to guide your business. For new and established small business owners, the course will start you down the path of small business success.
What You Will Learn in Six Weeks:|
In this first lesson, as you take that first step along your entrepreneurial path, you'll meet your instructor and learn about her childhood, growing up in ChocolateTown USA. You'll meet several leading entrepreneurs and determine if you have similar passions and skill sets. And, you'll discover that business plans are not just for funding your dream, but for guiding it along the path to success (as you choose to define it).
Today, you'll start to mold your business. You'll develop a vision and a mission for your enterprise. You'll define and refine your product or service, and you'll uncover your niche. This is the fun part of the journey—your only limitation is your imagination!
We'll focus on the customer in this lesson. Today's successful companies focus not on the products and services that they offer, but on the customers that they serve—on many levels. Together, we'll position your company to be customer-centric. And, you'll learn how to move that customer from satisfied to loyal (and perhaps even an advocate for your business).
In this lesson, you'll structure your organization so it's in the best position to provide your product or service to your targeted customers. I'll help you create a board of experts to guide you along your journey. You'll discover the role that change plays in your entrepreneurial evolution. Change is good—it shows that you're thinking!
Today, we’ll explore the plan within the plan—the marketing section of your business plan. We'll lay the foundation for your marketing efforts and we'll define sales and marketing (there is a difference!). We'll also explore the features and benefits of your product or service, and we'll begin the ongoing task of market research. This is where you can differentiate your product or service from that of your competition.
For today's lesson, we'll explore three separate areas of marketing. First, you'll learn about your competitors so that you can better position yourself and discover just how solid your business ideas are. We'll discuss one of the most difficult issues of new business—pricing. Finally, we become the SWOT team—analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Today, you'll join a panel of outstanding marketing, public relations, and graphics experts who are also entrepreneurs and believe in the power of networking. We'll explore graphic design, logos, image, public relations, and guerrilla marketing. And you'll also discover marketing in action in this lesson.
Today, we'll start by hearing Alice in Wonderland explain to the Mad Hatter that, in a topsy-turvy world, it seems like (you) have to do something wrong first, in order to learn from what not to do. And then, by not doing what (you're) not supposed to do, perhaps (you'll) be right. But (you'd) rather be right the first time, wouldn't you? Confused? We'll tackle manufacturing and operations concerns in this not-so-topsy-turvy lesson.
In this lesson, you'll learn that both successes and failures can be tremendous teachers—but you'll have to apply those lessons learned to other life or business ventures. For today's lesson, we'll take a bird's eye view of the financial section of a business plan. We'll also briefly explore the capital equipment list, the balance sheet, and break-even analysis.
In this lesson, we'll discuss three additional financial components of the plan. We'll explore the projected income statement (always a fun area!), cash flow, and historical financial records. Be sure to take some time to explore the Supplemental Links area (in this lesson and in all the others) for outstanding online resources.
Today, we'll continue our focus on money, but from a different perspective than in the previous two lessons. We'll focus on funding and financing opportunities, and by the end of this lesson, you should have a better understanding of financing. You'll also find out where to locate traditional (and not so traditional) sources of funding.
In our final lesson, you'll end one journey while beginning another. First, you'll write an outstanding executive summary. We'll discuss a few important document formatting tips, and you'll learn what supporting documents you should add to your final business plan. You now hold all the keys to the doors along your entrepreneurial path. Journey well!
Click here to find a school near you offering this online course.
What students have to say:|
"Carol, thanks from East Africa for your labouring to ensure we get it - time well spent. Your efforts were not in vain. You are a perfect instructor, and I have learned so much from you that I will definitely use in my small business but also in helping others in my country who desire to take the same trails. You have developed nations, Carol."
"Carol is an amazing instructor. Her wealth of knowledge and ability to communicate clearly far surpassed my expectations. I never ever expected to feel so 'comfortable' interacting with someone online in a classroom setting - consequently, I did not hesitate to share any and all concerns and ideas. Carol was so very encouraging throughout, a real blessing to students, and a definite asset to the institution! I'm most appreciative of all her efforts, and hope to interact with her again one day!"
"Carol was fabulous. She is obviously an expert in her field, she presented the information in an interesting manner, she replied to your questions and comments immediately, and she was incredibly supportive and positive about my venture. I would take any class that she taught."
"Our Business Plan was praised by our lender, who helped provide necessary funding. The Plan proved extremely helpful in ensuring that we considered all the bases before we opened."
"The instructor of this course, Carol Smalley, is exceptional. Not only were the lessons engaging (even when the subject matter was dry!) but she was always prompt in responding to my questions and always offered helpful direction for me. She encouraged me and my classmates to respond to each other, allowing us to learn from each other and helping to overcome the distance we might have felt by being in an online class. The best instructor is always the one that encourages you to work hard and think carefully. She did this for me. I would be more likely to take another business course if I knew she was teaching it."
"The links alone are worth the price of the course."
"My favorite tool has become the spider webs that we used in our initial lessons. I've previously used lists and tables to record action steps and plan strategies but the spiders are such a great visual tool in the creative and strategic planning process. I've found the spiders to be an excellent communication tool, and I've already used them at meetings with two of my 'experts.' "
"Carol, I just want to tell you how much I appreciate you teaching this course. It would have taken me years, YEARS! to compile this information and I would never have had the benefit of your experience or the invaluable lessons I learned as I listened in on the feedback given to my classmates."
"Carol, I have enjoyed these past weeks planning my journey. You do have a gift for teaching, I have gained so much information, more then I have ever found in any book. Have you ever thought about writing a book? I know I would be first in line."
"For the last year or so, I have read and re-read so many articles and books, but by far this has been the best money spent. Thank you personally for this information. It is much more than just a business plan class; it is a business education class."
"I had a blast with this course. My heart pounds hard and then I feel more confident. I really hated for it to end. My sincere appreciation for your encouragement and direction."
"This was an incredible course! It really opened up my eyes and got me excited about my journey. I still have much to do with my actual business plan, but even more important, I realized some important things about my life journey. Thank you. You are an awesome instructor and have such a wealth of knowledge. Thank you for sharing it with us!"
"This course was more than I expected. I've owned businesses before, and I wish I would have had this information; it would have made my planning much easier. The class instructor is very knowledgeable and offers students multiple avenues for further exploration."
A new class starts each month. Join us here.