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A comprehensive companion to Entrepreneur's long-time bestseller Start Your Own Business, this essential guide leads you through the most critical startup step next to committing to your business vision—defining how to achieve it. Coached by a diverse group of experts and successful business owners, gain an in-depth understanding of what’s essential to any business plan, what’s appropriate for your venture, and what it takes ensure success. Plus, learn from real-world examples of plans that worked, helping to raise money, hone strategy, and build a solid business. Whether you’re just starting out or already running a business, to successfully build a company, you need a plan. One that lays out your product, your strategy, your market, your team, and your opportunity. It is the blueprint for your business. The experts at Entrepreneur show you how to create it. Includes sample business plans, resources and worksheets.
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Phase 1: Before writing your business plan
Phase 2: While writing your business plan
Phase 3: After writing your business plan
Table of Contents
In practical terms, your business plan is a written description of the future you envisage for your business. Before writing your business plan, think out and plan how exactly you will prosper. Clarify what your business plan will be used for and write it accordingly. Bear in mind one plan does not fit all circumstances and situations so be prepared to have different versions you put to work.
A good business plan is like a road map. It describes how to get from where you are now to where you want to be in the future. Business plans are, therefore, inherently strategic in nature. You’ll need a business plan which covers all the bases:
■ What your basic business concept is and what you plan on doing to be successful.
■ The strategy you plan to implement and how you’ll go about doing that.
■ Your product and service offerings.
■ The markets you’re going to go after and how you will market to them.
■ Your management team and what your key employees bring to the table.
■ Your present and future financial needs.
Typically, your business plan will cover all those topics and more in about 15 - 25 pages. You then add in your financial projections and supporting information in separate sections. You have to hit the right balance with the length. If your business plan is too long, nobody will read it. Conversely, if you’re trying to raise $1 million in financial backing and all you have is a one- or two-page business plan, that might be a challenge as well. You need your plan to be long enough to be credible without having so much detail the reader gets lost.
Most people tend to associate business plans solely with startups raising capital but there are lots of other situations where putting together a business plan is helpful:
√ An established firm can put together a business plan to help clarify what’s needed to move to the next level and to attract new suppliers and partners.
√ If you’re looking to acquire a business, their business plan can help you determine the true market value of that enterprise.
√ If your business is facing a change which could result in major growth, you’ll want to put together a business plan for moving forward.
√ If you’re hoping to attract new staff or outside capital for expansion, your business plan will likely be the backbone of your discussions. A succinct business plan which sets out where you’re headed will be a tremendous help.
Just be careful to keep in mind what a business plan cannot do as well:
╳ Your business plan won’t be able to predict the future –it will really only set out what will happen if one or two scenarios play out in the real world.
╳ Having a business plan won’t guarantee you get funded – there are too many external factors involved in that kind of decision. A business plan gets you in the game and that’s about it.
╳ Even a great business plan won’t guarantee you raise all the money you need at any particular time – in fact the odds are pretty good you won’t end up getting what you ask for in your business plan.
╳ An optimistic business plan won’t fool experienced investors – they will be able to spot overblown projections, any glaring weaknesses and inconsistencies in your logic a mile away.
Before you write your business plan, it’s important that you take the time to clarify what your goals and objectives are.
■ Are you writing the plan to raise money?
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