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The most successful service businesses plan their activities for profitability. A business plan is simply your best estimate of what you will accomplish. Creating a business plan is the same thing as planning your growth. It establishes your formal goals as well as the timelines and measurement standards for the growth process.
A business plan is also required for most business financing (other than asset-based borrowing, which is a loan from a bank-like institution based on the value of assets you own).
A business plan is a forecast. The more professional and knowledgeable the business owner is, the more realistic the forecast is. The more credible the business plan is, the more likely the business will get the financing it needs.
You, as a professional, fully understand your costs and how to mange them. You fully understand your potential revenues, and how to structure your selling prices. You understand how to analyze your performance through your financial reports. Combining all of this knowledge into a business plan completes the process of understanding how your business will work for you – instead of the other way around.
Once complete, your business plan is a template. It guides you on what to do and what to expect from that action. It becomes your budget so that you can compare your performance against it every month. It also allows you to dream of what might be, too.
Your business plan allows you to play games like “What If?”. What if I hire one more person? What if I increase sales 10%? What if I trim my list of services to include only the ones I make the most on? What if I add another service to my sales mix?
A business plan is dynamic. That means it changes as the circumstances change.
Putting all of your understanding to work by creating a workable business plan is essential if you are to grow and prosper over time.
This knowledgeable approach maximizes your opportunity for success. When structuring a business plan, many start by estimating their expected annual sales, and then applying the costs they would expect for those sales. The resulting profit is the result of those two numbers. If you accept this method, you must learn to accept the limits it imposes on you. You will grow at the speed that seems easiest to accomplish, but not necessarily at the pace that fits your business and financial needs.
There are better ways for you to view this process. What if you looked at forming the business plan from the bottom line up? The value of this approach is that it usually shortens the time needed to reach our ultimate business goals.
Instead of planning to increase sales some percentage each year until you hit the income level you are looking for, why not start by deciding the income level you want and build a model that determines the sales you will need to achieve this? Working from the bottom up like this will give you a clear picture of what you must accomplish to get where you want to be. It doesn’t mean that you can accomplish lofty results in your first year in business. You probably will still have to stage your growth in order to solve the problems that occur as any business transforms into a larger company. In most cases, though, you will accomplish the lofty goals in less time if you approach your planning from the bottom up.
If you view your bottom line as a “must” number, much like planning to pay each of your expenses, then the steps you need to take to accomplish this amount become more clearly visible to you. In other words, if you must make $50,000 in income next year in order to keep the wolf away from your door at home, then you will be able to determine exactly how much you need in sales and expenses to achieve this result. Once these numbers are figured out, you can break them down into a month-by-month view and put them on paper. This is your business plan. Each month you should compare exactly where you are compared to where you planned to be. If you are falling behind, you should have time to adjust and make up the difference. At the end of the year, if you have tried your best and planned well, you will have earned the income you needed to have. Then you start the process all over again for next year.
Good Luck growing your business!
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