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It is important to put your business plan into written form.
A business plan is typically used to present to a lending institution to obtain startup money. It also helps the business owner see and understand their ideas from a business viewpoint and assists them in developing achievable goals.
Like a patient care plan, a business plan can provide a logical, organized way to reach goals. It can also teach you business terminology, values, and viewpoints. Keep your business plan simple in the beginning, and use clear, everyday language. Share your plan openly with family, colleagues, and personal friends for suggestions and comments.
To greatly increase your chances of success, revisit your plan quarterly and refine it as you go. Whether you are writing it for the first time or updating it for the twentieth time, your business plan will prove to yourself and others that you understand your business and you will be organized in making it grow and prosper.
If you decide to share your plan with a lender, consider hiring a professional writer to make sure the content flows well and is free of grammatical and punctuation mistakes. Constructive criticism from a professional editor can be invaluable for presenting your plan professionally.
Write your business plan using the following template. Each heading represents a new section of the plan. There is no specific length required for the sections. Be brief, direct, and to the point. This business plan template was developed by the National Nurses in Business Association (NNBA).
Write one to two paragraphs for each of the following sections, using the headings given here to identify each section’s content.
The executive summary is a short version of the plan summarizing the highlights of your business and is usually the first page of the plan. Since it presents a summary of the plan, it is written after the rest of the plan is completed. The summary provides a good description of what service you are selling; why you are selling it, who you are selling it to, when you are selling it, where you are selling it, how much you are charging for it, and how you plan to manage the business.
The company description statement describes the legal structure of your business. In general, if you are earning money, you must be registered with the state where you are doing business and also be registered with the IRS.
When you register your business in your state, it becomes a separate legal entity. It can enter into contracts, own property in its own name separately and distinctively from its owners. The legal rights of your business are based on the type of business entity you choose. The common types of legal entities used by nurses are sole proprietorship (DBA), partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation (Inc.).
Making the decision of what type of business entity to use requires knowledge of the laws of your state and the IRS. Each state has different rules even though most states use the same type names. To avoid costly mistakes, consult an individual who has knowledge about your state law, federal law, and experience working with nurse-owned businesses.
If you are a registered nurse and the services you are providing are included in your state’s nurse practice act, you may be able to practice under your name as listed on your license. If you want to use a different business name; in most cases, you must register the business name as a sole proprietorship or other entity as listed below. This entity information is for general use and is not to be considered professional advice. Please consult the Small Business Administration (SBA), a Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a business tax specialist, or a lawyer in your state to help you choose the form for your business.
The business and personal income are added together for tax purposes. Attractive if the business loses money and you have another income source. Owners are personally liable for the debts of the business.
Two individuals want to work together. Unfortunately, it is like a marriage and has a high failure rate. A 50/50 partnership has the potential of all decisions being a tie. Each partner is responsible for the debts of the partnership regardless of which partner made the debt.
A hybrid entity brings together the features of a corporation and a partnership. Partners are called members and have limited liability for the debts of the LLC based on their investment.
The business is a separate legal entity. All corporations start out as C corporations and a subchapter S can be filed with the Internal Revenue service. The S status allows the income from the corporation to flow through to the owner’s personal income. The owners are not personally liable for the debts of the corporation unless they have personally guaranteed the debt. Most small business corporations file for subchapter S to avoid double taxation.
A mission statement is an explanation of the purpose of the business. It should guide the actions of the workers in the business. Below are mission statements from three national corporations as examples. Some have changed over the years.
American Red Cross: The mission of the American Red Cross is to improve the quality of human life; enhance self-reliance and concern for others; and help people avoid, prepare for, and cope with emergencies.
Otis Elevator: Our mission is to provide any customer with a means of moving people and things up, down, and sideways over short distances with higher reliability than any similar enterprise in the world.
Health Net: Our mission is to promote good health while providing, as a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization, a quality health care delivery system to the greatest number of people in California at the most reasonable, competitive cost by sharing the financial risk with the medical community, the employer groups, and the members.
The current situation statement is written directly to the audience. If you are seeking money for a startup, write directly to the investor. If you are seeking key personnel, write this part of the plan directly to them. If you are writing the plan to help you understand the business, clearly identify what the issue is and the end result you hope to achieve.
Example of a Current Situation Statement
Currently, the company is in startup mode. The major challenge the company is facing at this time is that the owner needs to learn the basic business elements of operating and marketing a business. We intend to respond to this challenge by working with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the National Nurses in Business Association (NNBA).
The success factors statement explains the factors that will help your company achieve success. It is a statement of your overall real strength.
Example of a Success Factors Statement
Our company is in startup mode and has not registered any sales, but the owner has an excellent professional reputation and contacts in the industry. The owner will help the company get in the client’s door, attract general visibility in the media, and generate instant credibility to the entire company.
Write a brief summary of the owner’s experience and education. Only list positions held if they directly relate to the service you are providing.
The vision statement consists of statements concerning your future vision of the company and lists milestones to reach that vision.
Describe what you would like your company to become in the future. Try to capture your vision in a snapshot using a few words. Highlight how your company is different from others now and how it will be different in the future.
Example of a Vision Statement
In the future, our vision is to stand out in our market as the most professionally operated firm with consistent, high-quality service.
Examples of a Milestone Statement
1) Business plan completed (date) 2) Financing arranged (date) 3) Office or physical plant set up (date) 4) Advertising and promotion begins (date) 5) Service or sales of the product begins (date)
1) Business plan completed (date)
2) Financing arranged (date)
3) Office or physical plant set up (date)
4) Advertising and promotion begins (date)
5) Service or sales of the product begins (date)
The customer needs statement describes the benefits the customer receives from your product or service and the needs that it fulfills. Include direct and indirect, and tangible and intangible benefits.
For example, buying a new chair provides a place to sit, decorates the house, impresses friends, and makes the room look better. They benefit every time they sit in it, look at it, and show it to friends.
Also, describe the thought processes that your buyers go through in making their buying decisions. Include both rational and emotional elements.
Example 1 of a Customer Buying Decision
The buying decision of my customer is usually planned and is made in advance of the actual purchase. Hence, key purchasing factors are detailed on the website.
Example 2 of a Customer Buying Decision
The buying decision of my customer is typically not planned and is made at the spur of the moment when an error or problem is identified.
The customer service and support statement describe how you will handle customer complaints. Customer service is an important part of any business.
Example of Customer Service and Support Statement
An important part of our operating plan is to make contact with customers after the sale. We believe that new sources of revenue can be obtained through additional post-sale services. Our goal is to retain our customer base with this approach. Our goal is to leave the customer believing that they are right and satisfied with the outcome of any complaints.
The competitive analysis and key competitive statement contain statements concerning the industry overview, competition, competitive products and services, opportunities, and threats, and risks.
Example of an Industry Overview Statement
The nurse consulting and/or management industry can be characterized as hypercompetitive. Many service providers compete for the same customers. The relationship between the client and the provider is of utmost importance.
Example of a Competition Statement
Competition in this industry focuses on: (examples of words to finish this statement are price, quality, performance, specialization, expertise, education, reliability, technology, relationships, customer service, advertising, marketing, and publicity).
Research will be required to make a list of known competitors including name, location, annual sales (an educated guess), number of employees, number of years in business, strengths, and weaknesses.
The facilities statement describes the location of your physical facilities. They are an important aspect of your business. Describe the basic facilities, the equipment, and the furnishings. If you have a home office, include how you will accommodate customers who want to meet with you in person at your office?
Example of a Facilities Statement
This business will be operated out of a home office. The space utilized will be 218 square feet, which is adequate for the foreseeable future. Office equipment will include computers, printers, and all other equipment needed to run a contemporary office. Desks, chairs, and other office furniture will be ergonomic and high quality to promote comfort and be long-lasting. All client meetings will take place offsite in a public area or in the client’s office. The home office will have a conference table area and be appropriate for meetings with vendors and contractors.
The financial analysis statement contains statements concerning startup costs and cost projections. The following table shows examples of startup costs. Calculate the dollar amount based on your own research. Some amounts will be educated guesses. Not all items will be applicable. Use only items applicable to your practice. The total for startup and 3 months operating expense should be the minimum initial business bank deposit.
The product and/or service statement describes what services and/or products you are selling. Keep the focus on how the clients will benefit from your service. Will your clients save or make money, save time, be able to decrease staff, develop a better method that will save time and money, etc.? Include products you will be selling (or planning to sell), such as books, educational materials, seminars, or training.
The marketing strategy and implementation statement explain how you expect to attract potential clients, make that first sale, and convert them to advocates of your business, making word-of-mouth referrals.
In a one-person startup consulting service, it’s best to use a strategy called relationship marketing. Use this strategy in person at your local Chamber of Commerce and other local business networking face-to-face venues and on social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Use your website to identify yourself now and plan on expanding it later.
In my experience, a new consultant may have to meet twenty prospective clients to make one sale. That means that to obtain two new clients, you would have to meet forty potential clients.
Clients are a valuable recyclable resource. You must be willing to go to the meetings, make the calls, spend the time on the Internet, and/or go to lunch to meet those potential clients and to keep your current and past clients referring business to you.
Relationship marketing is based on a five-stage client development process. Emphases are placed on retaining clients and repeating sales.
The team statement explains the organizational structure of your business. It lists the key members of your company by name or title and what tasks they will be responsible for.
In the beginning, you may be the one and only member of the team and responsible for everything: clerical, communication, bookkeeping and accounting, banking, marketing, as well as selling and delivering the services.
After you have a product, program, or service that’s you’ve proven is profitable, you’ll want to create and develop a team that can leverage your impact.
Questions? For personal help with your business plan, talk with Sharon Burch, MSN, APRN, a successful entrepreneur since 1984, who is coaching nurse entrepreneurs to share forward her business knowledge and experience. Click here to schedule a complimentary Business Success phone call with Sharon today.
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