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Does Starting an Internet Business Require a Business Plan?

by Diane M. Hoffmann
Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications Inc.

For some reason, it seems that many people who would like to start an Internet business from home do not think a business plan is needed. I don't know exactly where this idea comes from, I guess it's the "lone and now" feeling of the instant Internet business expectancy...

But whether it be an ONline business or OFFline, one does need to plan before plunging into the commitment of starting a business, especially when 70% of businesses do not make it. It is not funny to start a business only to lose money, and sometimes even lose everything!

Another reason for avoiding the business plan, is that most folks are scared by the prospect of such a laborious undertaking. We are used to seeing lots of work sandwiched into big binders that represent business plans.

But we do not need to go to that extreme at the very beginning. We need to just satisfy ourselves (before doing a plan to satisfy bankers or investors), in order to see if we feel comfortable starting a business. From that initial stage we can go to the next step and expand on a full presentation format.

That is why I put a series of steps that lead us to the process which I share with you in this article.

Step 1 deals with finding out, first of all, right now, this instant, if a business idea is feasible. First, how much sales do I need in order to pay myself a salary of $25,000, $35,000, $50,000, more? What will I need to sell in order to achieve that. Do I quit my day job? If I am out of work, do I get a job and build this up evenings and week-ends? And if so, how long will it take me.

Step 2, if the idea is feasible, then I can expand it into a more detailed informative breakdown. If it is not feasible at this time, I can put it aside and go on to something else that might be more attainable. But if it is worth pursuing, I need to know what I will need to do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis to reach the goal.

Step 3 is the next phase of the feasibility process which deciphers what I now know into some marketing figures which will be needed to reach the projected sales. All this you can see before you on paper. Just like a road map. You can work various scenarios until you are satisfied that it makes sense. Figures do not lie and pleasantly keep you on the straight and narrow.

And you know what? Even if you're not ready to start your dream business now, you can work on this and have it ready for when you are. Then when you are ready you can go to the next step.

Step 4 is then the planning phase of Step #3 that will make your dream a reality and give you the tools to work with as you measure your results day to day. One cannot manage something that one cannot measure.

Making a business plan need not be complex and difficult if it is done comprehensively one step at a time. It should be -- it has to be -- a fun, simple and exciting experience. And it is only then, when you have a visual, physical business plan in front of you, that you should begin to work on your vision, knowing where you are now and where you are going at all times. Nobody can afford to lose money. Getting into business has to be for making money to survive and grow -- both personally and commercially./dmh

Diane M. Hoffmann is president of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications, which offers ONline and OFFline business services and resources. She is the founder and creator of and author of several books, e-books and articles, including "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Diane has recently shifted her primary focus to helping entrepreneurs start and grow their own Internet business. Copyright(c)2009 Diane M. Hoffmann. You may reprint this article without any changes, making sure to include this bio.

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