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How to Write a Business Plan

Background: Whether you are looking for investors, applying for a loan or grant or trying to sell your business it is vital to have a business plan. A business plan will allow you to understand how your business is organized and in what direction it is going. It should detail your company structure, its financial needs and expenditures.
If you want to attract investors you will need to have a business plan that will assure them that your business is profitable and well organized. Investors will want to know about the products and services that you provide, your marketing strategy and target customers. . You will need to inform them about your funding needs including positive and negative scenarios. A disorganized business plan that lacks vital information about your company will discourage investors and you may fail due to lack of funding.

Objectives: By the end of the discussion you should be able to write a business plan that describes your company, its organization, market analysis and strategy, products or services, funding needs and financials. You should be able to identify what you need in order to write a comprehensive business plan.

Discussion: This video discusses the steps to writing a business plan

Step 1) Detail an executive summary including a mission statement, names of partners and employees, functions, services rendered and a business location.
Step 2) Provide a market analysis that reflects your knowledge of the industry, industry outlook, target markets and competition evaluation.
Step 3) Include a list of company management and organization with salary and benefits. Provide ownership information including legal and practical involvement.
Step 4) Define your market strategy with information on penetration, channels and growth. State communication, advertising decisions and overall sales strategy.
Step 5) Present your product line. You will need to include what advantage you have with the target public, any patent or copy write information and ongoing research and development.
Step 6) when looking for investments create positive and negative funding scenarios and funding needs for the next five years. You should include capital expenditures, working capital, debt retirement and acquisitions. It is better to create more realistic scenarios than to project successes that may not be realized.
Step 7) Detail your financials, historical and prospective, capturing realist quarterly and yearly projections.
Step8) Add an appendix with supporting information such as credit history, resumes, references, market studies, licenses, contracts and names of consultants.
Summary: This is a general approach to writing a business plan. Depending on your business structure and needs some of these steps may need to be expanded, reduced or cut out. Regardless of your business size or needs it is never a bad idea to have a business plan.

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