Although the term "business plan" conjures many negative images in the eyes of some business owners, taking a step-by-step approach will prove that creating a business plan is much less daunting than one might imagine. Although no two plans are exactly the same (the necessary details of the plan can vary between companies), the contents of a typical business plan include the following topics : Executive Summary - Sell your business to your reader!; Business Overview - Giving a general summary of the business; Market & Competitive Analysis - What environment are you competing in?; Marketing & Sales Strategy - How will you "win" in your market?; Organization Plan - How is your organization structured?; Financial Projections - Current status and future outlook; Funding Sought (if required); Key Milestones - What are your specific & achievable goals?; Critical Risks - What keeps you awake at night?; Appendix/Attachments.
So, in the end, I encourage you to realign whatever preconceived notions you may have of the business planning process and view it not as a daunting task or a necessary evil of running a successful business. Instead, view it as yet another opportunity, the chance to help make your dreams into a reality by mapping out the needs of your business, your customers, your employees, your suppliers, your community...and yourself!
This is a much better plan indeed. However, a superior plan would take all of these ideas to the next level by planning for "what if": what will I do if I get a flat tire, if I run out of gas, if someone gets sick, or if I lose my wallet? You can see how the superior plan is clearly the best in most situations in that it allows for flexibility, plans for the expected and the unexpected, and allows you to spend more time enjoying the trip, knowing that you have all of your bases covered.
Now that you realize its importance, the next thing that you should start working on is learning how to make one. But before you have the urge to get your computer going and start writing, here are the qualities of a good business plan that you have to keep in mind.
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