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Business Plans: Information and Resources
Writing a Business Plan
If you're starting a new business, you'll need to put together a business plan to show potential investors or lenders. It's actually a great idea to write a business plan for your own use too. They're a great way to track where you are now and where you want to be in a certain period of time. Instead of roaming all over the map, you'll have guidelines and milestones to help keep you organized.
One of the greatest benefits of working up a business plan is that it gets you really thinking about what it is you want to accomplish with your venture. In order to fill in the various sections of the plan, you have to look at a number of things very closely. You may find yourself getting really enthusiastic about some areas you hadn't paid that much attention to before. For instance, when you look at the marketing section, you may discover that you hadn't thought that much about your target market before. There may be a whole sector you should be marketing to. Or you might find out that you've been marketing to a group that just isn't that interested in your product or service.
A business plan can be broad and fairly simple or it can be detailed down to the tiniest degree. It will be up to you to choose how much information to include if you're doing it for your own uses. On the other hand, if your bank or other lending institution requires one, they will let you know what information they need. In any event, the more that you include in your business plan, the broader the picture you'll have of your enterprise.
Generally speaking, business plans have the following sections:
- executive summary and mission statement
- your goals
- your marketing proposal
- how you plan to achieve your goals
- the structure of your company
- your financial statements
- and the timeline for growth
Before you sit down to actually write your plan, make an outline of exactly what you want to cover. The categories mentioned above are pretty standard, but every business is different. For example the company structure will vary according to the type of organization chart you use. Some use the standard top management down organization, while many businesses are now using a more team-based model. Also, if your business is small, you won't have many employees and you may not even have a human resources department.
If you've never seen a business plan, you can find free templates on the Internet, pick up some books on how to write one, or do some research in the library. Your goal will be to make it look professional and easy to follow. You may feel a bit intimidated if it's your first one, but just take it one piece at a time, and it will go a lot easier than you expect. Once you have it in place, it will be easy to modify. Some of the items will stay the same, and some, such as your financials, will change each year. You may find in time that it doesn't work exactly the way you wanted it to, so you can add or delete categories.
Although you'll want to include lots of detail, keep it simple and easy to understand. For one thing, you don't want to get so bogged down in writing it that you'll end up hating the whole project. For another thing you want your goals to be clear and precise as well as measurable. Your investors or lenders will insist on this, and if you're just doing it for yourself, you'll want to be able to remember what you were talking about when you look at it over the year.
Good luck with your business plan. Once you get it done, you'll wonder how you functioned without it.
Most business plans include an executive summary and the company’s mission statement in the first section. Continue reading
An important part of your business plan is to state your specific goals as a company. Continue reading
When you write the marketing section of your business plan, you should look at a number of main areas. Continue reading
Strategies for attaining your business plan goals. Continue reading
This section has information for investors and financial institutions. It gives information about how your company is organized and who is running the business. Continue reading
Information on the financial statements necessary for your business plan. Continue reading
Your business start-up timeline lists all the tasks needed to get your business operating and to continue business for the first two years. Continue reading
Put all the elements of the business plan together and actually write the plan. Continue reading
A business plan template for a generic business. Continue reading
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