A good business plan is like a good map or navigation system. It can help you get where you want to go. It can also help you focus on important subjects that must be addressed if your business is to thrive and grow. It is a blueprint that will help you visually layout your strategy for success and make changes on paper rather than in real life. A good business plan should accomplish most of the following:
-A good business plan gives you a clear path to follow. It can help you make your business what you want it to be.
-A good business plan can be a communication vehicle for your employees and future customers. It can establish your vision for the company and will allow you to measure your success using your plan as a benchmark.
-A good business plan can help you grow as a manager by helping you to focus on your competition and opportunities. It will force you to change your way of thinking from that of a common man to that of a business man.
-A good business plan provides your banker or investors with insight into your goals and objectives.
-Above all, the business plan is a strategy which prepares you to manage your business, rather than allowing your business to manage you.
-A successful business plan is realistic, factual and objective, presenting your goals in measurable and attainable terms.
A Business plan can take many forms and will vary in length, but all successful plans
communicate the following information clearly and concisely:
-The nature of your business (what service is your company going to provide)
-The goals and objectives of your business. (where do you want to be in 5 years)
-The steps you will take to achieve your goals and objectives
-An action plan for implementing these steps
-Major potential problems and strategies for overcoming these problems
-An effective business plan also answers a variety of specific questions, such as:
-Who are the potential customers for your product or service?
-Why will they purchase the product or service for you?
-What is your marketing plan and how will you implement it?
-Who are your principal competitors? What are their strengths and
-What management skills do you lack or are weak? Where will you obtain these
skills or compensate for them?
-What are the current financial resources of your company?
-What is the projected financial condition of your company over time!?
There is no one “correct” format for a business plan, although most effective business plans include the same critical information. More important than a specific format, however, is the presentation of your ideas in a clear and concise manner. This is one step that you may not want to take but not creating a business plan is like leaving on a trip with no map, no compass and no directions. You simply cannot know where you will end up.
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Steven Cole (Economics, MBA – University of West Florida, Business & Innovation – Stanford University) 30 years experience in the parking lot striping business. Expert in reflective visibility solutions.