Business plans don’t have to be long, voluminous, and detailed documents. Often 2-3 pages are sufficient. The main goal is to get your ideas, strategies, and resource requirements out of your head and onto paper. This documentation is important for a number of reasons. First, plans tend to become more “real” after they are written down. Second, it is important for planning purposes to be organized and objective. It’s easier to do this in writing. Third, it is important to share the written plan with others and get feedback from them. Fourth, investors and financiers will want to see the numbers.
An abbreviated business plan forces the author to be concise and include only important information. The plan will be more focused and understandable. In addition, the plan should receive more favorable attention and read carefully.
PLAN COMPONENTS While opinions differ, some variations on the main elements of your business plan might include:
Introduction / Summary (or background)
Key products / services
Management / operating plan
Finance and financing
BASIC INFORMATION. FOR EACH SECTION
The introduction and background may not seem like a big deal, but how did you come up with this idea? Is the concept original? The introduction / summary / or background information is intended to grab the attention of readers and prepare them for further action.
In the Mission / Vision area, try to describe exactly what the purpose of your organization is and how you see it in the future. Key products or services are where you describe what you will produce and sell.
Management is a section in which managers (founders) are identified with an indication of personnel requirements.
A SWOT analysis identifies the strengths of your prospective company and, perhaps more importantly, its weaknesses, as well as the opportunities available in the marketplace and threats (primarily from competitors).
Finances and funding determine the money needed to start and maintain your business, as well as the source of “start-up” funds.
Marketing defines your customer (target segment) and how you offer to create / satisfy their needs / desires in your products / services. Pricing, packaging, sales and distribution may also be included.
HOW MANY PARTS?
Preliminary business plans are often “less is more.” Your goal is to convey important information, not answer every question or provide every detail. At some point in the future, you will need to flesh out the details, although there is plenty of time for that. I am not suggesting that you be superficial, just short and mean. Try to have two or three main paragraphs in each section. Remember: put this plan out of your head and put it on paper!
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