Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Write a Business Plan

Don't be scared! I know writing a business plan can be a daunting task, I've done it. What is most important is that you see it as a tool for you. It truly is a road map to success for your business. You will need a business plan if you intend to seek financing for your business. Every bank and investor will require that you submit a business plan (and not just a page or two with you idea on it) when you apply for a loan. From the Small Business Association (SBA) website, here are the essential elements of a good business plan:

A business plan should be a work in progress. That's because your business will evolve over time, and be influenced by outside factors such as the economy and local conditions. Even successful business owners should maintain a current business plan to ensure they remain knowledgeable on the elements that can affect continued success.

•Business Plan Executive Summary
The executive summary is Part 1 of the business plan and is the most important section of your plan. It provides a concise overview of the entire plan, along with a history of your company.

Market Analysis
The market analysis section is Part 2 of the business plan. This section should illustrate your knowledge about the particular industry your business is in. It should also present general highlights and conclusions of any market.
Company Description
The company description is Part 3 of the business plan. Without going into detail, this section should include a high level look at how all of the different elements of your business fit together.
Organization & Management
Organization and Management is Part 4 of the business plan. This section should include: your company's organizational structure, details about the ownership of your company, profiles of your management team, etc.
Marketing & Sales Management
Marketing and Sales Strategies is Part 5 of your business plan. Marketing is the process of creating customers, and customers are the lifeblood of your business.
Service or Product Line
Service or Product Line is Part 6 of your business plan. What are you selling? In this section, describe your service or product, emphasizing the benefits to potential and current customers.
Funding Request
The Funding Request is Part 7 of your business plan. In this section, you will request the amount of funding you will need to start or expand your business. If necessary, you can include different funding scenarios.
Financials is Part 8 of your business plan. The financials should be developed after you've analyzed the market and set clear objectives. That's when you can allocate resources efficiently.
The Appendix is Part 9 of your business plan. This section should be provided to readers on an as-needed basis. In other words, it should not be included with the main body of your business plan. Your plan is your communication tool.

For the complete list and descriptions, visit the SBA website here.

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