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If You’re Thinking Of Starting A Business, You Need To Have A Plan. . .
Before opening your doors, you need to be prepared for the many details involved in running a business. Thinking through these details and putting them on paper helps you to be prepared. Every new business venture should begin with a plan. The information below will take you through the steps of writing a successful business plan.
While your plan will be uniquely designed for your type of business, there are certain objectives contained within any good business plan. It must:
-Set forth goals and how they will be achieved.
-Define obstacles and outline strategies to overcome them.
-State the legal and organizational structure of the business.
-Quantifies financial needs and make financial projections.
The length of your plan depends on the purpose you will use it for. If you need to acquire venture capital for your business, you may need to provide extensive details for prospective investors. If your plan is simply a roadmap for you to follow, it can be quite short. Whether it is one paragraph or 100 pages depends entirely on your objectives.
A good business plan will tackle three major areas. Look at the questions within each of the three areas below and answer them as they apply to your particular business.
What is the legal structure of your business?
Will it be a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a corporation?
What is the name of your business?
Who are the people in your business?
How is your business uniquely positioned to succeed?
What are existing conditions within your industry?
How do you intend to grow?
What is your product?
What does it do?
How will you handle and deliver orders?
Who are your customers?
Why are they customers?
What motivates your customers?
What need are you filling for these customers?
How will you motivate them to buy from you?
How will you find and attract these customers?
Who is your competition?
What advantage do you have over your competition?
How will you position yourself to win market share? Do you have technical data, surveys, or information sources to back up your claims?
How much money are you bringing to your business?
What are your start-up costs?
How will the money be used?
When will your business become profitable?
What are your financial projections for the next six months?
What are your financial projections for the twelve months?
What are your financial projections for the next five years?
I have listed a few key elements to include in your business plan. Keep in mind that your business plan is unique to your business, so don't be afraid to beef things up as needed.
Executive Summary - This is a summation of the important points within your business plan. It should not be over three pages long. This summary is of particular interest to potential investors that may be willing to invest in your business. It allows them decide if you are a worthy investment vehicle.
Company Summary - Describes your business, customer focus and your goals. This would include things such as your business structure, start-up projections and business location.
Products and Services - Describes what you have to offer, its advantage to the customer, your reasoning for the need of your product or service and a look into your place among the competition.
Market Analysis - This gives details on who, what, where, why and how within your market. This also includes an analysis of your industry and your strengths therein.
Marketing and Sales Strategies – The key to this section is your plan to operate in a competitive environment. Sales forecasts and marketing details give an in-depth look at actual customer acquisition.
Operations and Management - Fully details the structure and operation of your organization.
Financial Plan - Provides a comprehensive look at business cash flow, profit and loss, break-even analysis, and other financial indicators.
In conclusion, your business is less likely to fail if you are able to predict outcomes. Your business plan sets realistic goals for success. The above information serves as general map. You fill in the details. How may details? As many as are needed. Most assuredly, your efforts will be rewarded for years to come. Remember, you are in it to win it so make sure you stay focused and keep your eye on the prize!
To Your Success!
© 2006 Pam Lawhorne. All Rights Reserved.
About the Author: Pam Lawhorne is the President and CEO of Motivation-In-Motion, Inc a training and consulting firm geared towards insuring the success of new entrepreneurs and small business owners. She is a business strategist and marketing consultant with over a decade of experience in small business development, sales, marketing and management.
She empowers individuals with the skills that are necessary to successfully launch, expand or increase sales for their business.
For more information on starting your own business please order her new book “From Minimum Wage To Getting Paid! - How To Become A Successful Entrepreneur With No Money, Education Or No Experience!” Portions of information in this column came from her book. Visit her online at www.PamLawhorne.com.