Turn your business ideas into a solid plan for financing and long-term success. Committing your idea to paper in the form of a business plan not only increases your chances of obtaining financing, but also in keeping your business strategically focused. You will work through all the major components of writing a business plan and emerge with your first draft in hand. Most importantly, you will have completed the first—and most difficult—step on the path to small business success.
Kris Solie-Johnson, chancellor and president of the American Institute of Small Business, best-selling author, educator, speaker, and mother of three, is an energetic and passionate entrepreneur. Her books are in public libraries, high schools, colleges, and military bases both nationally and internationally. Solie-Johnson has an MBA in Venture Management from the University of St. Thomas and over 19 years of experience helping entrepreneurs reach their goals quickly through joint venture partnerships, creative marketing programs, and innovative financial options. She's dedicated to motivating and inspiring owners to achieve beyond their dreams.
The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.
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!