Todays business plan is an indispensable document for any company or individual who is in business and needs, for one reason or another, to raise money, find investors, justify their actions, or simply to chart his own course of action in an intelligent and businesslike manner.

Write your business plan correctly and you will present a great image and get what you want.

Before Starting Out

Before you start out writing a business plan you will need to assemble as much information as you can regarding the business itself.

The object of the business, your management details, everything about the market you are in, how you plan to produce and sell, all the elements for a financial analysis, your time parameters, and what to do when things go wrong.

When you have gathered all this information together, you are still not ready to start.

You need to decide who you are addressing the business plan to.

Will you be speaking to a bank, an investor, a funding source, potential buyers, re-organizers, your own group, or just yourself?

Having decided who is the target you are ready to begin.

Organizing the Business Plan

The following is a classic structure for a successful business plan. Follow it and you will be in good company with other successful business people. These are the sections you need.

Executive Summary.

This should be SEPARATE document from the body of the main plan. Keep it short, from 2 to 4 pages only. It must be comprehensive and express all the information of the main report.

Be sure to include your mission statement, summarize all the other topics you see below here, and end with a summary which convinces of the success you envision.

The Business Described.

This will include information about the company, a profile. It will speak about the business sector you are in, and can cover new services, products, or other crucial information that will set the tone for rest of the plan.

Give reliable industry forecasts, and if you quote some data or numbers, you must give a reference each time where you took the information.

Services Products.

In this section you must give specific information about what you do, produce, and sell. You must compare yourself to your competitors, and show your own benefits and advantages.

If you are doing something new, include it here.

Management

Key Personnel and Company Organization. Point out here who is doing what, stress your strengths and combined years of experience. If you plan to expand, describe it here. State clearly the management goals.

Analyze the Market.

Here you go into your market, your competitors and your market share, show who your customers are, what opportunities may exist, and if there is a niche to fill.

Marketing and Sales Plan.

This has to be rather academic and following a deliberate strategy. There is no set form for this, but you must support all your claims.

Production Plans.

If you are producing something, you must show how you do it, and give financial details. If yours is a service company, in this section you cover how you provide your services, or how you will provide new ones.

Financial Plan.

Here you add the classics of cash flow, income and expense statements, financial projections for some years, and if you are looking for money, you must include that feature here.

Time Management.

This is where you give all the schedules for the implementation of your plan, and include mile posts.

Contingency!

What will you do if things go wrong.

Think it out, and you must have some real scenarios here. Remember who your target is. If you are doing this plan for a bank or lenders, they will be interested in how they are going to get their money back if things go wrong.

Summary Statement.

As in the Executive Summary, your summary statement must draw up all the conclusions in a comprehensive way.

You must be convincing (always keeping your audience in mind. Who are you writing this for?), and be convinced yourself. If you are not, no one else will be

Those are the classic basics of a good business plan, and if you follow them, you will have a document that is both useful and effective and could get you anything you require to make your business a success.

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