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Business Plan for Entrepreneurs
Your business plan should conform to generally accepted guidelines regarding form and content. Each section should include specific elements and address relevant questions that the people who read your plan will most likely ask. Generally, a business plan has the following components: Title Page and ContentsA business plan should be presented in a binder with a cover listing the name of the business, the name(s) of the principal(s), address, phone number, e-mail and website addresses, and the date. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a fancy binder or cover. Your readers want a plan that looks professional, is easy to read and is well-put-together. Include the same information on the title page. If you have a logo, you can use it, too. A table of contents follows the executive summary or statement of purpose, so that readers can quickly find the information or financial data they need. Executive SummaryThe executive summary, or statement of purpose, succinctly encapsulates your reason for writing the business plan. It tells the reader what you want and why, right up front. Are you looking for a $10,000 loan to remodel and refurbish your factory? A loan of $25,000 to expand your product line or buy new equipment? How will you repay your loan, and over what term? Would you like to find a partner to whom you’d sell 25 percent of the business? What’s in it for him or her? The questions that pertain to your situation should be addressed here clearly and succinctly. The summary or statement should be no more than half a page in length and should touch on the following key elements: The business concept describes the business, its product, the market it serves and the business’ competitive advantage. Financial features include financial highlights, such as sales and profits. Financial requirements state how much capital is needed for startup or expansion, how it will be used and what collateral is available. The current business position furnishes relevant information about the company, its legal form of operation, when it was founded, the principal owners, and key personnel. Major achievements point out anything noteworthy, such as patents, prototypes, important contracts regarding product development, or results from test marketing that have been conducted. Description of the Business The business description usually begins with a short explanation of the industry. When describing the industry, discuss what’s going on now as well as the outlook for the future. Do the necessary research so you can provide information on all the various markets within the industry, including references to new products or developments that could benefit or hinder your business. Base your observations on reliable data and be sure to footnote and cite your sources of information when necessary. Remember that bankers and investors want to know hard facts-they won’t risk money on assumptions or conjecture. When describing your business, say which sector it falls into (wholesale, retail, food service, manufacturing, hospitality and so on), and whether the business is new or established. Then say whether the business is a sole proprietorship, partnership, C or Sub chapter S corporation. Next, list the business’ principals and state what they bring to the business. Continue with information on who the business’ customers are, how big the market is, and how the product or service is distributed and marketed. Description of the Product or Service The business description can be a few paragraphs to a few pages in length, depending on the complexity of your plan. If your plan isn’t too complicated, keep your business description short, describing the industry in one paragraph, the product in another, and the business and its success factors in two or three more paragraphs. When you describe your product or service, make sure your reader has a clear idea of what you’re talking about. Explain how people use your product or service and talk about what makes your product or service different from others available in the market. Be specific about what sets your business apart from those of your competitors. Then explain how your business will gain a competitive edge and why your business will be profitable. Describe the factors you think will make it successful. If your business plan will be used as a financing proposal, explain why the additional equity or debt will make your business more profitable. Give hard facts, such as “new equipment will create an income stream of $10,000 per year” and briefly describe how. Other information to address here is a description of the experience of the other key people in the business. Whoever reads your business plan will want to know what suppliers or experts you’ve spoken to about your business and their response to your idea. They may even ask you to clarify your choice of location or reasons for selling this particular product. Market AnalysisA thorough market analysis will help you define your prospects as well as help you establish pricing, distribution, and promotio
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