Developing the Business Plan & Using a Business Plan

Helpful hints on goal setting and business planning.

The Plan! The dreaded business plan. Drag it out, fire it up – do whatever you need to do depending on your stage of development.

I understand it is a tedious and time-consuming process but it is certainly worth the effort.

Developing the plan deserves your full attention because once you have it at least in draft form, you will have a clearer sense of where you are headed and what work you will need to do to move forward. It can take weeks and months to complete a plan and it should then continue to be a work in progress.

The more input you have from people around you the better. It can be helpful.

Where should you start? I advise the MBA students I teach to find samples of plans of other companies similar to what they are proposing. You can certainly find many fine examples on the Internet, or by spending some time at your local public library. [Or visit MoreBusiness.com’s large collection of plans online.]

If you are working on a plan to introduce a particular product to market this will be the time when your previous market research will pay off. Is there a similar product on the market? What problems does your new product solve? Potential investors will want to know the answers to these questions.

Your finished business plan should be well written and look as professional as possible depending on your circumstances. The plan should start with an Executive Summary – one or two pages that can stand alone – describing the most important parts of the business plan. You can send this document out initially to people who express interest and then if they request more information, you can send the entire business plan.

Expanding your summary for the plan, describe your company in detail, including your goals and objectives. Describe the product or service, the market, the competition and the value of your product to the market.

Talk about your management team, or if you are alone, talk about your background and explain why you are qualified to take your product to market.

Your plan should map out how you plan to start up your business and operate it in plain, simple language avoiding all the market clichés. You are writing primarily for investors who are interested in the bottom line. Keep that in mind. Show how you plan to make money and be realistic.

Show how you will need to spend whatever money you get. Additionally, develop a marketing and sales plan if you have a product or a service to offer. Include the steps you will take in these efforts in your business plan.

Show how much money you expect to make for at least three years and up to five years.

This plan is like your resume. When you can’t be there yourself to represent your company or product, your plan will be – so be sure it fairly represents you in a clear, consistent and businesslike manner and in the most concise way. You will probably only have about two minutes to catch someone’s attention. Make it happen!

Article – Copyright 2001 Stanley I. Mason. Syndicated by ParadigmTSA

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