Stay at home mothers and the home based business

Several stay at home mothers in the Huntsville-Madison area have chosen to start home based businesses. The benefits of having a home based business are appealing. These benefits range from earning income, flexible hours, to the opportunity for adult interaction. However, making the decision to start a home based business can be difficult. Lisa Burnham and Shannon Windsor offer some guidance to the stay at home mother who is considering starting a home business.

Approximately a year ago, Burnham decided to become a Tupperware® consultant so she could help raise money through fundraisers for her Mothers of Preschoolers group and to help contribute to the family finances. She chose Tupperware® because the company “stands behind their products with a lifetime warranty” and she loves the products. She manages her time between being a mother and running a home based business by working around her children’s schedules and getting her oldest child involved by letting her sort the orders. She offers this advice to a stay at home mother who would like to start her own business, “make sure you love what you sell” and “do something that lets you give your family the time they need”.

Windsor has been an Usborne Books & More independent educational consultant since May of this year. Her appeal to Usborne Books & More was that she can work with schools and daycares in order to promote reading. Like Burnham, she manages her time between being a mother and running a home based business by working around her children’s schedules. She also has a calendar with her appointments on it and she checks her e-mail daily. She advises that before starting a home based business, do a lot of research on the time and money involved and make sure that the company sells products that interest you.

There are many companies that a stay at home mother can start a home based business through, but the key is to make sure that starting one is the right choice for her and her family.

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Professional Networking for Home Based Businesses

Operating a home based business does involve one main disadvantage. The business owner is out of the mainstream business community and suffers from a lack of visibility. This means they often have fewer chances to develop a professional network. That network is often a crucial lifeline for the home-based business owner.

Home-based business owners have several ways to build awareness of their company and form ties with other professionals.

Join the local chamber of commerce. This group and events it sponsors are often key gathering places for business professionals.

Some of the first events they may want to consider attending are business fairs or trade shows where business owners gather. However, to network effectively and professionally, business owners must attend with a goal in mind, such as what new information they would like to gather or who they would like to meet. Here are some things Muske recommends business owners do while attending these events:

– Walk the aisles with your business cards.
– Take time to introduce yourself and make plans to meet at another time for a longer discussion.
– Watch how others “work” the room.
– Attend any lectures and gather information.
– Other ways business colleagues meet include joining and being active in community and civic organizations. However, while attendance is a good first step, business owners also need to offer their services and look for leadership roles.

Area business trade groups are another means to learn and make contacts. Muske suggests business owners contact the professionals they deal with on a regular basis, such as their banker, accountant, lawyer and insurance representative.

And do not forget to form alliances with complementary businesses.

The purpose of these events is networking with other business professionals. Your focus is making contacts, forming relationships and spreading the word about your business.

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Free Anitvirus Information for Home Business

It is important to note the threats that can embed into you computer without notice and getting the antivirus information based on your needs to protect your home business computers from them. Some antivirus software is free while others charge a yearly fee to use.

Making use of anitvirus software to protect our home based business computers and/or network is important. You don’t want to lose all of your files or important resources you have, get hacked or even have your computers run slow because of malware. To avoid these threats, small or large, you need to protect your business resources with an antivirus software. Vista and Windows 7 does protect you BUT you can never be too sure. Why take the chance?

Antivirus (anit-virus) software helps protect your home business by stopping most malware that tries to get into your computer, and it also removes most malware that does manage to slip past the initial protection. Removing malware is a basic function of anti-virus programs, and most programs make the process as simple as possible.

Download or buy antivirus software here. Several of the manufactures have a free and premium version of their antivirus software available. The free versions often has restrictions such as a trial period and lack of real-time protection, but both will typically remove any malware that your business computer may have. Then just follow the instructions as the program guides you thru the proceedure.

AntiVirus Software Comparison for your Home Business Computers
Today’s highly developed computer viruses require a heightened level of protection for your home or business. The latest generation of antivirus software is more effective than ever before. Most programs include email, file and web scanning, anti-spyware and 24/7 tech support.

If you want to avoid system slowdown of your business computers, anti-virus programs that have a good reputation include VIPRE, Kaspersky, Eset Nod32 (25% off), Zone Alarm (50% off). If cost is a consideration, AVG has a free version that protects against most, but not all, malware.

VIPRE offers free malware removal if a virus gets through its defenses and Kaspersky has hourly updates, assuring that you are well protected.

Malware Removal (malware) Information:
Malicious software can cause numerous problems with your computer including:


    – general instability
    – logging of your passwords
    – credit card information
    – programs running slowly or not working.

How to Make a Portable Antivirus for your Business
A portable anti-virus program is installed on a removable device, such as a flash drive or external hard drive, so wherever you go you have a virus program capable of scanning the system it is connected to. When using the portable anti-virus program you must have it ready-to-install on the drive (and not actually installed on the drive). This is because a program must have registry information on a computer before it is able to run on the system. If you initially install the program directly onto the hard drive it is not going to run on other computers, as the other systems do not have the registry information.

  1. Connect your USB flash drive or external hard drive to a USB port on your home business computer system.
  2. Open a Internet browser, then navigate to a website that offers antivirus downloads. You must use a program that is free, as pay versions offer only one license per download, making it illegal to install, and run it on multiple computers. See here for free antivirus business solutions.
  3. Once you have chosen a antivirus software and have gone to their website, click the download link on the program and a window appears, asking if you are sure you want to download the software. Click “Yes” and the anti-virus program downloads to your home computer.
  4. Click “Start,” (My) Computer,” then double click the removable device icon. This loads a window with all the files on the drive. Click-and-drag the downloaded anitvirus file into the open window, then close out the window, right-click the removable device icon and choose “Eject.” Disconnect the drive from the computer once the icon has disappeared.
  5. Connect the drive to a different computer. Now open the removable device icon and double-click the downloaded antivirus program. This loads the installation wizard. Follow the prompts to install the program. You are now able to run the antivirus program on your computer. Repeat this task on any computer you want to scan with the portable antivirus software.
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Home based business owners need to Pay attention to rules

Entrepreneurs need to be aware of some caveats in running a Home Based Business at home.

One is taxes. It’s much easier to claim a deduction for a home-based business than it was years ago, when it almost guaranteed a visit from the IRS. But it’s still possible to make a mistake, claim too big a deduction, and grab the government’s attention. Another pitfall to look out for is insurance. Chances are you’ll need to buy additional insurance if you’re operating out of your house or apartment.

And, you need to be sure running a business in your home doesn’t violate any local laws or regulations, or, if you’re part of a homeowners association or co-op, its bylaws.

You should take taxes into consideration as you decide where in your home you’re going to operate a business. Mark Toolan, a certified-public accountant in Exton, Pa., noted that the space you choose “must be exclusively used for business.”

That means you can’t claim your entire family room if the kids watch TV and play there, too. You might be able to claim the part of the room with your desk and PC, but keep in mind you might need to prove to the IRS that your kids don’t sit there for hours at a time playing computer games or visiting Facebook.

Claiming part of your home for business use means you can deduct the part of the mortgage or rent, insurance, maintenance costs and repairs that can be attributed to that space. For example, if your business takes up 10 percent of your home and you spend $10,000 on home expenses, you can deduct $1,000. If you have a cleaning service and spend $2,500 a year to have your home cleaned, you can deduct $250.

The key word to keep in mind when claiming a home-office deduction is “reasonable,” a word that actually applies to all the business expenses you claim on your tax return. The IRS will have a sense of how much you should be deducting. If you have a consulting business and you get your roof repaired, the government will look askance at your trying to deduct 50 percent of the bill.

You don’t have to conduct all of your business activities from your home to qualify for the deduction. If you spend your work time visiting customers but do your administrative work such as billing and keeping your books at home, you can claim the deduction. It’s a good idea to consult with a tax professional before you set up the home business, or, at the least, before you start compiling your tax return.

Then there’s the matter of insurance. Don’t assume your standard homeowners policy will also cover your business.

Check your policy, but also call your broker or the customer-service number for your provider to be sure what is and isn’t covered.

Someone who’s a freelance writer at home may have some coverage under a homeowners policy. But the more complex your business, the more likely you’ll need separate insurance. If a business visitor trips over a toy on the sidewalk or is nipped by your poodle, homeowners insurance might not cover the mishap. And if you have employees, it’s almost certain you’ll need additional liability coverage.

It’s not just slips and falls you need to worry about. If you have a lot of business-related equipment in your home, it might not be covered in the event of a fire, natural disaster or theft. You also need to make the same determination for vehicles that are used for both personal and business purposes.

It may be possible to put a rider on your homeowners policy, rather than buying completely separate coverage. Check with your broker.

But, “if you think you’re going to do something like detailing cars, you can’t necessarily keep them on your front lawn,” she said. “The best thing to do is check.”

Weltman noted that home-based businesses also need to comply with licensing laws, including those that are industry specific. So, for example, if you’re thinking of a business that involves food preparation, or you want to run a day-care center, you need to be sure you’re fully licensed before you start the operation.

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Bartering in Small Business can Help

When Carrie Kerpen was looking to get her small marketing business off the ground, she knew she had to build one thing: credibility.

“We were looking for ways to build credibility,” Kerpen, who founded the company with her husband in 2006, said. “If we were breaking into a new category we were happy to barter with the company because it usually led to a paid job – if not from them, from another company in the industry.”

The company, which has 8 full-time employees and 30 part-time people in offices in New York City and Boston, has worked with a retailer that sells flowers and gifts in exchange for marketing help.

“The company provided us flowers and gifts that we sent to potential clients after meetings. It really added that extra “WOW” factor, she said. “It definitely made us look more credible and helped us snag clients.”

Bartering allows businesses to receive goods and services without hurting cash flow, which can be tight these day; last year, more than 250,000 businesses engaged in bartering to help boost revenue.

Business-to-business barter transactions generate $12 billion annually through the modern trade and barter industry, according to the International Reciprocal Trade Association.

Here are five tips to keep in mind when bartering.

Small Business Bartering tip #1 : Keep Values Fair
Treat a barter client like any other client, said Kerpen. “Compare prices with others in the industry to make sure you are getting a fair deal, and put everything in writing.”

When drawing up the contract be sure to include a deadline for the services or goods to be delivered.

Small Business Bartering tip #2 : Don’t Sell Yourself Short
If you are using an online bartering site make sure to really sell your qualities.

“If you are an electrician, include your experience, number of clients, a list of skills, recommendations and before and after pictures,” said John Moore, founder of the online bartering site U-Exchange.

Moore, who said activity on the site spiked last January 2009 and continues to stay strong, also suggested people be proactive with getting business. “Don’t just sit back and wait for people to come to you; make the initial contact to see what is out there”

Small Business Bartering tip #3 : Stay in Contact
It’s a good idea to check in with the barter client to make sure the exchange is on track.

“Have a monthly status meeting if the deal is long term. Communication is key and you want to make sure everyone is happy,” Kerpen said.

Small Business Bartering tip #4 : Start Small
If it’s your first time bartering, don’t jump in head first, said Danielle McCormick, founder and CEO of MyCubi.com. “If it’s a big project start with the person doing a small task to make sure the long term relationship is going to work.”

Small Business Bartering tip #5 : Don’t Forget Uncle Sam
There is no loophole for bartered transactions, and trades are taxable in the yearperformed, according to the IRS. The fair market value of the goods and services being exchanged should be declared as income for tax purposes.

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When work at home is a scam

Every news story I read about Work at Home Jobs or Online Home business is some pundit or expert telling you and I that the ad I read for Online Home Jobs is a scam?

There is no question that when an individual solicits your money, time or talents with no intention of you ever getting paid, this would be an outright theft. The question raised is whether business opportunities such as Avon, Global Domains International or Amway are scams. As the all to often warnings on Home Business goes, if great wealth is offered, with little or no work it is automatically a scam. This is just a flat out lie, these headlines are the scam. These news story headlines are put in place for 1 reason and 1 reason only to sell newspapers, magazines or to drive web traffic.

Could it be that the media is unhappy with the success of individual home business owners because it doesn’t make good website copy or sell newspapers?

If a company offers a Home Business / job opportunity with the “huge” investment of $10 a month and for that investment in a home business you get a domain, website building software, unlimited phone support and an incredible record of success can this be called a scam? Or perhaps do people who fail not have the drive to success, probably because the media has beaten the idea of wealth out of them.

With the proper marketing efforts, product and more importantly the right attitude any and i do me any work at home job can be profitable. As they say “You get out what you put in”, so stop listening to the outsiders opinions of work at home and take the first step.

Be positive and succeed at your dream of an Online Home Business.

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Next logical step – Work from home

For many of us, the next logical step towards creating our own income is to work from home, and an increasing number of people are setting up their own home business.

While working from home undoubtedly presents a great number of advantages, such as allowing parents fit their work around raising children, there is little doubt that it also raises a number of issues that can be problematic with your home business. Your working environment can exert a significant influence your state of mind, productivity and professionalism, and whether you are a stay at home parent or simply starting a home based business depends upon you addressing some important issues.

The most important requirement for a home based business is that you actually have an office. A dedicated space that allows you to physically separate your home business and working life is an essential tool in making the switch from a personal to a professional business mindset.

While one of the great joys of working from home is the easy proximity of all the conveniences of the homestead, this very accessibility can quickly become a liability if not carefully monitored. While parents may opt for a home business lifestyle because of the opportunity it offers to combine home and work life, certain boundaries must be drawn to ensure the professionalism of the product or service you offer remains intact. Flexibility is a definite advantage to a home business, but clients will not appreciate if your flexible working from home hours mean missed deadlines, or work that isn’t up to standard.

Is it really possible to enjoy the benefits of working from home without compromising the quality of your work? With so many entrepreneurs starting a home based business, and a growing number of corporations offering telecommuting as an alternative, it certainly seems so. Here are some ways to maintain professionalism, while enjoying the conveniences of your home business.

  • Ensure that your home office boundaries are respected at all times – working flexible hours does not mean that non-working family members can call on you when they wish. Establish your home office as a business in the minds of both you and your family – once you enter this space, you are at work.
  • Try to keep core hours if you can – predictability helps establish a routine, which makes work more difficult to abandon to see what’s in the fridge.
  • A home business environment offers many more distractions than a typical corporate office, and it is easy to lose sight of the task at hand when there are so many other things to be done. While carrying out household chores can recharge your concentration, try not to allow homely thing to intrude on your workspace.
  • Go to your home office as you would a corporate one – though you might have no appointments on a given day, the way we dress and groom ourselves can exert a significant influence on how we work, and even how we communicate by phone or email. Dress professionally and you will perform professionally also.
  • Being your own boss can be most difficult aspect of working from home – working for a familiar taskmaster can quickly breed contempt. Just because you are not answerable to a more senior colleague does not mean that your standards should not be maintained, or even improved. As a one-man operation you are responsible for all that occurs in your office – so don’t lose your chance to work at home by allowing standards to slip.
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Mothers Work from Home

The 25 million American people who work from home ( including mothers ) perform a balancing act more challenging than walking a tightrope. Not only do they manage all their work, but they do so while confronting family intrusions, loneliness and a workweek that never ends.

For Othelia Cassidy, just finding enough time for herself is an obstacle. The mother of two maintains a food blog, teaches West African dance, volunteers, writes restaurant reviews and co-directs a dance troupe. On top of all that, she home-schools her seven-year-old son while keeping an eye on her one-year-old daughter.

She handles her responsibilities by finding time for her professional work at home job in between child care tasks. She sets her son up with projects while she labours at the computer in her home office, and she teaches him when her daughter naps. She involves him in her work too, letting him help her test out new recipes for her food blog. But she still hasn’t solved the problem of finding enough time for her herself.

Cassidy has set aside one night a week for hanging out with friends, and one day a week she uses a “mother’s helper” while she works, a friend’s daughter who watches her kids. Sometimes she tries to get up earlier than the children just to get things done, but she laments that that rarely succeeds.

Erica Orloff, a mother of four and co-author of The 60-Second Commute: A Guide to Your 24/7 Home Office Life, concurs that working from home is not as easy as it may sound.

“People who don’t work from home think I must have the cushiest life,” she says. It isn’t always so cushy, she notes, and to have a successful business you need to have a strategy to make it work.

Orloff has added up the hours she puts in and figured out that they come to more than the standard 40. Her recommendation: Keep a work diary for a week, and write down all the hours you work — even your 20 minutes checking e-mail before bed. And do as much as you can with Skype and Webex conference calls, so you don’t have to travel more than necessary.

Logging all those hours working at home can be isolating. Alicia Rockmore struggled with that when she started a home based business five years ago. Until then she always worked in a large office. When her daughter was born, she figured it was the perfect time to start a home business so she could spend more time with the baby.

Conversations with her very young daughter tended to be one-sided, and she craved interaction with co-workers. “Working from home was a huge adjustment,” says Rockmore, whose company, Buttoned Up, helps women organize their lives. “You’re used to the stimulation of other people and casual contact.”

She soon realized she’d have to schedule some contact with other adults. She found fellow mothers working from home, and she meets them for coffee and lunch breaks. She also has a co-worker who comes to her home to help her out.

Teri Gault, who runs Thegrocerygame.com, schedules all her business meetings before 2:30 p.m. so she can help her son with his homework in the afternoon or go to his basketball games. To make best use of that time, she takes her laptop to the games and works during the breaks. She also sometimes sneaks into her home office in the evening if the family is watching a movie.

She integrates exercise into her schedule too. It may sound strange, but she finds that being on her cross trainer is a nice way to break up the day. It’s not strictly personal time, though. She checks messages and calls people within her company while she’s working out.

One thing Rockmore has learned is the value of setting boundaries. Now that her daughter is a bit older — she’s seven — the girl has a full-time nanny. Rockmore has made it clear that when she’s in her home office she isn’t to be disturbed unless it’s an emergency. Still, working there allows her the choice of spending more time with her daughter if time permits. She starts working at 5:30 a.m. so she’ll be done when her daughter gets home from school. On Friday she picks her up at school, and they start the weekend together early.

Part of setting boundaries is keeping physical ones too. When Gault started Thegrocerygame.com, she kept her computer and files in her bedroom. She soon learned that that was a mistake. “When I went to bed at night, I saw the lights blinking or a fax would come in,” she says.

Her company provides coupons and listings of rock-bottom prices at grocery and drugstores in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K., Italy, Japan and China. “Things would go beep in the night. I couldn’t detach and get relaxed when it was time to go to sleep.”

Now her home office is in a separate bedroom, at the opposite end of the house from her husband’s office. It’s practically a holy site in the house. Family members know they’re not allowed to go in there whenever they please, and they’re certainly not allowed to use it as the supply closet when they run out of paper, nor can they download anything on her laptop.

Gault has 60 employees and franchisees around the country who also all work from home. Being in constant e-mail and phone contact with them helps her avoid feeling isolated. So do the managers’ retreats she holds every March, with massages and wine tastings. “We try not to talk work,” she says. “It does a lot for team morale.”

Still, the biggest challenge is not overworking. It’s easy to hop on the computer before the rest of the household rises. The same goes for time after dinner and before bed.

“It’s so easy to extend my work hours, and I feel guilty because I feel I should always be working,” says Rockmore. “The other issue is, on the weekends there aren’t any boundaries. I can walk into the office and spend a half-hour checking e-mail. I wouldn’t necessarily do that if I had an out-of-home office.”

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Franchise Family Photos Business Idea

Lisa and Marissa Flynn are co-owners of a photography business that focuses on children and families. The studio opened in 2006 and is expecting its first franchise to open in Minnesota next summer.

Marissa and Gerald Flynn are in the business of documenting memories. Specifically, memories of children as they travel through the many stages of life.

Marissa, Ada studio manager, and Gerald Flynn, CEO of franchise development, are co-owners of Pic studio in Ada. The photography studio focuses on capturing moments of children and families in pictures, from birth to high school, with a primary target market of newborns to 5-year-olds.

“We’ll grow as fast as we can handle it,” Marissa Flynn added.

The Flynns decided to start a business based on their own experience as parents to their sons. They had their children photographed at department stores, and then found themselves arranging trips to Portland around the major stages of their children’s lives to have them photographed.

“I wanted pictures of my kids that focused on my kids and focused on their personality,” Marissa Flynn said.

The Flynns moved to Ada in 1999. Marissa Flynn founded the marketing dept., a marketing and advertising business, in 2002 and served on the board of directors for the Advertising Federation of Central Oregon. Marissa Flynn worked as paper planner for The Bulletin and as graphic designer for the marketing dept.

“With a background in marketing, and as a mom, I said, ‘There’s got to be a better way to do this,’” Marissa Flynn said of the child portraiture industry.

They determined changes they could bring to children’s photography, including creating a boutique experience, capturing a child’s personality with few props, and making the studio childproof and parent-friendly, Marissa Flynn said.

“Boutique means you’re special, that you’re not just another appointment — the studio is yours, we serve you and cater to you,” Marissa Flynn said.

She wanted the atmosphere to resemble a retail boutique or a spa.

Features include no child-accessible plugs or outlets in the studio, extra diapers in the changing room, a place for other children to play during a shoot, couches for parents to relax and watch their children, and beer, wine and nonalcoholic beverages served to adults.

Pictures, taken by professional photographers, aim to show the true nature of a child’s personality.

“We don’t edit out the bruises on their legs or things like that, because that’s what 2-year-olds look like,” Marissa Flynn said.

The studio opened in 2006 under the name of focus pocus. The name was changed this year because the original name was too confusing, Marissa Flynn said. The studio also moved to a larger location on Greenwood Avenue last month.

“Ultimately, why we started the whole thing is to have more flexibility with our family — to start a business that people care about,” Marissa Flynn said. “We’re not photographers or passionate about photography, but we are passionate about a family-run business and that people are happy with it.”

Pic studio schedules about 20 photography sessions per week, and 50 during holiday seasons. The sitting fee is $195, which includes a 45-minute shoot, 45-minute photo viewing session, a CD of 35 photographs and a print package worth about $60. Other combinations of prints, coffee-table books, Christmas cards and framed photographs are available for an extra fee.

This service is important to families, and people are willing to forgo a pedicure or nice dinner out but not this, according to Marissa Flynn, who said the business has grown during the economic downturn.

“We’re in the memory business,” she said. “And people aren’t willing to give that up.”

Q: How has the company changed since it opened in 2006?

A: We have learned so much. We essentially opened on a theory — no one had ever put a studio together the way we did, so there were a few rough edges that we had to smooth out. Our new studio downtown is a great example of our growth. We developed a floor plan that is much more efficient and effective. We also realized that people want a print package, so we’ve included it with our session, and that they want to use the photos for scrap-booking, e-mailing, and Facebook-posting, so we provide the images on a CD in a workable size. Additionally, we’ve created foolproof systems, an air-tight workflow, and an atmosphere that can be easily and affordably replicated in other markets through our franchising.

Q: Why did you decide to franchise the company?

A: When we finalized our business plan, we knew that this concept would work well in the right area of any market. But we didn’t know if we were going to grow as a corporation or as a franchise. Ultimately, we decided to take the franchising route because we realized that the only way to maintain a boutique atmosphere was to have an owner in every studio. …

Q: What type of atmosphere or moments do you try to depict in the photographs?

A: We call it “personality-infused photography.” We want to capture who your child is at this moment. If a 2-year-old has a meltdown, we capture it. If a baby is overcome with shyness, we capture it. And, when a 5-year-old realizes that they are ready to take the world by the tail — we capture that, too. It’s not only individual kids, we love to photographically document the interaction and love of families. We use props very sparingly, often only to get the kids comfortable, and they won’t even show up in the final picture. We believe that props should enhance the experience for the child, but never take focus of the shot away from where it should be: on the child.

Q: How have economic changes influenced your business?

A: We are actually still growing in this economy — up 30 percent over last year, in fact. I think it’s because people focus more on family in times like this. They realize how important family is, and know that these moments will be gone in an instant. When you have your first baby, the world revolves around them. When you have your second, third, fourth, or fifth, you know how fast those little ones grow, and you don’t want to miss a minute of it.

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How to Write a Business Plan

Writing a business plan can be overwhelming. Your not going to be able to sit down at your computer and crank out a professional plan. It takes time and aquire some information. You may want to look at some alternatives that will make the process of creating a business plan easier.

Use Business Planning Software
A good business planning software package will provide you with an outline for a well-developed, and professional business plan. Instead of starting from scratch software packages will assist you by structuring your plan for you. The software should ask you the right questions that will pull out the most important underlying concepts within your business idea.

Buy a Book
There are many good books on the market that will help you to understand what needs to go into a good business plan.

Example Business Plans
Get yourself a example business plan which is available on this site. Click here for a example business plan

Hire a Professional
A professional consultant will create the business plan for you, but you still have to be prepared to think through your business and understand the underlying concepts in your business idea. You will have to work closely with the consultant to ensure that he or she develops a good plan that accurately represents your business or business idea.

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