What Is A Business Plan For

How to Write a Business Plan: Reasons to Write a Business Plan For those of you just starting a business, writing a business plan is a crucial first step.It can help you describe your product or service, detail your marketing strategy, and lay out your sales and operational forecasts—including the ever important cash-flow projection so as to keep your business on track for profits.Putting these plans in writing can hopefully start a healthy business planning process that your business revisits on a regular basis, updates, and revises.

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The reason is that each business is unique and, therefore, each business plan should be a unique document to be truly worthwhile to the business.

A business owner should also be fully invested and fully aware of every aspect of the plan.

We share it with the team constantly, but it is never done," says Tim Berry, president and founder of Palo Alto Software, maker of Business Plan Pro software, who blogs at

"When your business plan is finished, your company is finished."The following pages will help you understand why you should write a business plan, components to include in a business plan, and how to use the plan internally to meet your business goals.

It should be no more than 30 to 40 pages in length, excluding supporting documents."Pinson recommends starting a business plan with a cover sheet stating the principles of the business, the name of the business, and the address of the business.

She also suggests following with a table of contents to provide a quick reference guide to the topics covered in your plan.A business plan may also be required if you plan to do business overseas. Small Business Administration to write its government business plan publication."If you do business internationally, a business plan provides a standard means of evaluating your products' business potential in a foreign marketplace," says Linda Pinson, author of , who runs a publishing and software business, Out of Your Mind and Into the Marketplace. But a business plan is not only for start-ups or businesses seeking investment or loans.In fact, more important to your business's future than having a 30-page, coil-bound plan to distribute is the business planning process that you undertake on a regular basis to hopefully keep your ship headed in the right direction without losing sight of your long-term destination."In my company, we've been working on the same plan for more than 20 years—we review it every month and revise it every year.We've printed it out a dozen times and shined and polished it.This is the exit strategy."If you're developing a plan involving a business loan, then your lenders are going to want something slightly different.They will want to see a section detailing collateral, or assets to pledge against the loan."On the third Thursday of every month, for example, you could go to a conference room and order in lunch and take an hour or two to look at how your assumptions have changed, look at your progress," Berry says. A business plan should not be solely about strategy; include specifics like who's responsible for what, when it happens, how much your products or services cost, the sales your business will generate, etc. Fill your plan with metrics, measurements and information you can later review. Profits are nice, but you spend cash, not profits." Profitable companies go bankrupt all the time because they don't have money.One good test of this part of the plan is whether or not you've actually implemented it. It isn't intuitive, but the math and financial principles involved are not that hard when you lay out your cash in logical order.It's a way that different people can work together on a team," Berry says. Humans like to have a way to measure themselves and track their own progress toward goals rather than being completely subject to someone's guess later as to how they've done."There are scores of websites these days on the Internet that offer to sell business plans for or more, designed to let you enter your company name and specifics and generate a plan.These are about as valuable as the paper they're printed on, says Berry.

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