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In this episode of The Small Business Show, we are joined by Melinda Emerson, America’s top small business expert, CEO of Quintessence Group, and best-selling author. We discuss the importance of creating a solid business plan before launching your business.

Planning 12 months in advance is crucial to ensure that you have done your research, spoken to the right people, saved money and most importantly understand who your target customers are. The first step in creating a successful business plan is to determine the reason behind starting the business. This includes identifying your purpose, values and mission.

Next, entrepreneurs need to consider how they will finance their business. While banks generally do not lend money to startups, personal savings are often used as funding for new businesses. It’s important to also consider how the business will operate and whether you have the necessary skills or if additional training may be required.

Understanding your marketing plan and target audience is also essential for a successful business launch. Entrepreneurs need to know where their potential customers go and what they like in order to build an effective marketing strategy. Emerson advises that entrepreneurs should focus on differentiating their business from competitors in order to attract potential customers.

Finally, it’s important for entrepreneurs to set realistic sales projections and develop a budget based on those projections. A 20-25% increase is still an aggressive goal but can help guide decision making on an annual, quarterly and monthly basis. However, Emerson advises entrepreneurs not to include their “super secret sauce” in their business plans such as actual IP or anything they have pending patents.

“You really want to think about how you will specially serve this customer.” – Melinda Emerson

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