Five Steps to An Effective Business Plan

Mar 31


Vishal P. Rao

Vishal P. Rao

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... 2004 Vishal P. RaoYou have an idea for a ... You know what you want tosell, who you can sell it to, and how much you stand to earnfrom it. There's just one more thing you need: a busin


Copyright 2004 Vishal P. Rao

You have an idea for a business. You know what you want to
sell,Five Steps to An Effective Business Plan Articles who you can sell it to, and how much you stand to earn
from it. There's just one more thing you need: a business

Many people dread the idea of preparing a business plan.
They think of them as complicated, unnecessary documents
that exist only to make it more difficult for them to get
started as an entrepreneur. They are wrong.

Business plans are necessary because they help you "see"
your business. Instead of just talking in abstract ways
about your "customer base" and your "profit potential," it
lets you put those things in writing and in concrete terms.
It forces you to think through every aspect of your business
in advance so down the road you don't realize you've made a
mistake that's cost you your business, your life's savings,
and your job.

Besides all of that, they are also important tools for
getting other people interested in your business. For one,
if you've taken the time to create a business plan, others
will realize that you are serious about this endeavor and
that it isn't just some pie-in-the-sky dream. A business
plan also shows people that you are a professional and that
you understand what it takes to start and manage a business.
This is all extremely important, particularly if you need
any type of outside funding, such as loans or investors.

So while the bad news may be that you definitely do need a
business plan, the good news is that they don't have to be
complicated. The truth is that your plan only needs to cover
seven main areas and none of these areas are going to
require you to write a full-length novel. These five
sections are the executive summary, the company overview,
the business environment, the company description, and the
action plan. All of those sections may sound complex, but
most of them won't involve information that you don't
already know.

Executive Summary

Even though this section will technically be first in your
business plan, you should actually write it last because,
just as its name implies, it summarizes the entire contents
of your business plan. Because many readers never bother to
get beyond the executive summary, you must make sure that it
is comprehensive and well-written.

If that sounds difficult, it isn't. Just make sure to read
through your entire business plan before you start writing
the executive summary. Make a list of information that you
think is the most important or that would really stand out
to a reader, and be sure to include all of it in your

Company Overview

This section explains the guiding force behind your
business. It gives them a chance to see what you have in
mind for the business and how you plan to get there.
Generally, the overview does this by providing a mission
statement, goals, and objectives for your business.

In a nutshell, a mission statement provides the answers to
all of these questions in less than 50 words: What am I
selling? Who am I selling it to? Why am I selling it? It
doesn't need to be just one sentence, but keep it as brief
as possible.

Goals and objectives, the other components of the company
overview, are often confused by first time business plan
writers. Remember that goals are things your company wants
to achieve while your objectives are how they plan to get

Business Environment

This section will probably require you to do some outside
research because it involves information relating to your
industry, your market, and your competition. You need to
take an honest look at the field you are preparing to enter
and pay close attention to its structure, its trends, and
its barriers to new businesses. Become familiar with the
major competitors in your industry and decide how you will
differentiate yourself from them. Also, get to know your
potential customers and what makes them tick. The more you
know about them, the more likely you will be to turn them
into buyers.

Company Description

At this point in your business plan, you need to go into
detail about your business. You can't simply define your
company in terms of what you sell, but also in terms of who
you serve, what resources you will use, what types of
employees you are looking for, what type of distribution
method you'll utilize, and more. All of this factors combine
to create your company.

In addition to this, you should also state your company's
UPS (Unique Positioning Statement). This is a one sentence
statement that explains what sets you apart from all of the

Action Plan

The last part of your business plan is this section which
outlines the steps you need to take now in order to make
your plan work. These should also reflect the goals and
objectives that you've outlined in your company overview.

Besides these primary pieces of a business plan, you may
also need to include a financial section, particularly if
you plan on using it to get outside funding for your
business. This may take more thought and planning than the
other sections because it will require you to make some
assumptions about your business's revenue potential. The
most important thing is to base any estimates on realistic
expectations, not optimistic dreams.

You may want to visit the following websites for some
samples to give you an idea of how things should be
formatted and worded:

With some useful models and this helpful information, you'll
be well on your way to completing your effective and
professional business plan.

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