Business Plan Fundamentals

Creating or updating a business plan can sound like a onerous task, but it is really a logical flow of information about your business or business idea. It should be considered a living document that is never quite done and constantly updated and refined due to business results, changing market conditions, products and service expansion and any other issues that are involved in your changing business.

Drafting a business plan is really nothing more than answering a series of questions:

1. What is the business reason (Mission)

2. What do we want to become (Vision)

3. What market and need are we trying to satisfy?

4. Who are the target customers?

5. Why will we be successful?

6. Who is our competition?

7. What does our organization look like?

8. What is the growth strategy?

a. Sales Force

b. Sales Activities

c. Channels of Distribution

9. How would you describe your products or services?

10. What are the critical actions for:

a. 6 Months?

b. 12 Months?

c. 36 Months?

d. 60 Months?

11. What are your funding needs for the same time periods as question 10? (Proforma)

12. What do your sales, expenses and profits look like for the same time periods as question 10? (Proforma)

I am not trying to tell you that it will not take time, thought or preparation to “complete” a thorough business plan, but the degree of detail and work should reflect who your target audience is that will be reviewing, providing input or possible be evaluating the business plan.

Break the business plan into the questions outlined above, gather feedback from trusted advisors as you answer the questions, and do not be afraid to adjust your answers as you get feedback. By following these basic steps, you can create a “living” document that will assist you in making daily decisions, investment decision, and aid you attracting investors and funding.

Please feel free to use our business plan examples, search the web for “business plans” or go directly to the Center for Business Planning, the Small Business Administration or Entrepreanuer Magazine sites for a detailed template and instructions on planning.

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