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Written for anyone who needs to develop a business plan as soon as possible, Business Plan in a Day 3rd ed. breaks down the sometimes-intimidating process of business planning into easy-to-follow, manageable steps. By filling out the worksheets and checklists, using the timesaving tools, and following the expert advice in Business Plan in a Day 3rd ed., business owners examine each and every aspect of their businesses, develop a well-constructed and efficient plan, and move their companies forward.
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If you gather everything you'll need in advance, it should only take you about 24 hours of work to put together a great business plan. Even better, those 24 hours don't really need to be consecutive--you can stop and start as you choose, pausing as required and then returning to the task when you have the time available.
The key to getting your business plan together quickly is to work to a plan. Don't waste timing trying to reinvent the wheel, but follow the template outlined below. Then you can spend more time using your plan and making great things happen. Remember that the central benefit of a business plan is it forces you to focus your business activities, which is good. A business plan also helps you think through all the financial, marketing and operational issues involved.
All in all, despite the fact you may be pressured to develop a plan so you can raise a loan, interest and investor or secure other resources to start or expand your business, the process of developing your business plan is highly beneficial. Your business plan is your own personalized roadmap to future success. Taking the time and effort to flesh out that roadmap cannot be a bad thing.
"A business plan answers the following questions:What is your business idea or what is your existing business?Who are your existing and/or potential customers and what motivates them to buy from you?How will you let your customers know about your business?Who are your competitors and how are you different from them?How will you carry out the basic functions of your business?Is your management team capable of leading your business to success?What is the long-term future of your business?What is your company's financial picture?How much money will it cost to run your business and how much money will you make?
While your plan will ultimately be judged on the quality of your business concept and your strategies for achieving goals, you also want to make sure it gives the best first impression possible."
■ Gather together in one place all the information sources you will be using in your business plan. For an established business, this will include your historical financial statements (prepared by your accountant most likely) and also all your sales brochures, industry information, budgets, marketing materials and everything else you might need. Just having all this information in one place can save a lot of time that would otherwise be spent searching all over.
■ Sit down and specify exactly what you want your business plan to achieve. Make a short list of those who will be reading it, and what action you'd like them to take as a result. For example, are you planning on:
Seeking financing from a bank or some other lender?
Approaching a potential investor like a venture capital firm?
Creating a new business from scratch?
Expanding your existing business in some way?
Reporting on the progress of a team or project?
Entering a competition or gaining an academic credit?
Using the plan to plan future strategy and direction?
■ Give some thought to the length of your end document. As a general rule, most business plans should be less than twenty pages long, excluding the financial information. Keep in mind that potential backers will evaluate the value of your business based on the quality of your ideas rather than the length of your business plan document. Keep everything short and succinct rather than long-winded.
■ Try and develop a few simple graphics that will be worth incorporating. For example, a simple organizational chart is usually better than spending pages describing how your company is currently structured. Similarly, a pie chart may be useful and illuminating when talking about the market share distribution within your industry.
■ Once you have the first draft of your business plan prepared, have someone with a good command of the English language edit and proofread it. In addition to catching typos and grammatical errors, they also may be able to suggest better ways to state your ideas.
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