Business Plans

September 15, 2012 in , , ,

What is a business plan and why do you need one? A business plan is your blueprint for success, and it’s important because a good business plan may help you secure loans, obtain grants and/or funding, find business investors or partners, and keep you focused on your goals. A well designed plan should convey where you see your business in three to five years and may also help you objectify the key elements of your business and define your mission.

Here are a few things to consider as you begin to build your business plan:

  • Introduce your business. You will need to develop a good company description, something that not only identifies what your business will do, but highlights what is different or unique about your business and explains exactly where your business fits into the marketplace. It might help if you visualize yourself introducing your business to someone for the first time, to someone who has no idea who you are or what your business does.
  • Do your homework. Your business plan should include a detailed market analysis about your chosen industry and how you plan to sell your product or services. Don’t forget to talk about your marketing strategy and financial projections, and cite relevant facts and figures whenever you can.
  • Think about your customers. Show that you know who your customers are and where your business can find them. Have you thought about email marketing, Internet search engine optimization, and social media? Do you have customer service components built into your plan, and have you considered your brand image?
  • Get organized. Outline your business structure from top to bottom. What does your infrastructure look like? Your plan should include key people (if appropriate). Be sure to highlight anyone bringing special skills to the table. Include an executive plan summary that profiles your overall mission and describes your unique talents.
  • Be creative. Get beyond the basics. Think about what your business is really selling. How will you highlight what makes your business special? What is your combination of product, value, and service that sets your business apart from the competition? Where are your competitors focused? How will you identify and target your clientele? Are there potential opportunities that you can exploit or develop as you grow? What needs (or niche) does your product or service fill?
  • Ask questions. Sometimes entrepreneurs can identify an opportunity or market niche based on their own knowledge and experience, but it can also be helpful to conduct market surveys to add strength to your business plan. You might be surprised by what you discover about your own industry that you had not considered before.

The Small Business Association (SBA) can help you prepare your business plan. You can find online courses at the SBA.gov website. You may also visit the SBA.gov training site to find training sessions about starting a small business that may help you get started. Also, if you need advice from a business mentor or counselor, The SBA has experts available to assist you through local offices around the country. You can find out more about the SBA’s program their Find a Mentor or Counselor page.

For more information about how to construct a business plan, read our “Business Plan Template” article at buildmybiz.com.

The information in this article should not be treated as legal or financial advice. It is provided for informational purposes only. If you require more information, or need professional assistance, you should consult your legal counsel or financial planner.

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