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UPDATING THE BUSINESS PLAN: A KEY TO THE SUCCESSFUL GROWTH OF A BUSINESS:

When should I update my business plan? It is the question mostly every entrepreneur asks themselves. The answer for this question is “Always”. The more you will update your business plan time to time, the more you will be able to track results in a more successful way. The things always change; update your business plan in order to be aware of the results of your set goals and objectives.

MANAGING AND PLANNING PROCESS:

The annual update:

It is necessary, to update your business plan at least once in a year. Keep your old plan in front of you and take a fresh look.

  • Talk to your customers and potential customers: Go through your value proposition. Check the needs and requirements of your customers from your product or service.
  • Market segment: It is crucial to give time to your market segmentation. At the time of updating a business plan, try to come up with new market segmentation, this will give fresh view to your business.
  • Larger potential market: Conduct in-depth research about the changing trends and technologies that might occur in your specific business industry.

The monthly update:

The last and the most important section of the business plan, financial projection, require monthly update, as the books of accounts close after every month. Be careful and kept every record of the planned and actual results for your sales, profits, and cash.

  • For monthly update of the financial statements, always maintain a table that shows variance between plan and actual results.
  • Beside, financial projections also go through the milestones, assumptions and tasks that are measurable.

EVERY BUSINESS PLAN IS WRONG: Give your plan a fresh look. You have to realize your business plan is wrong. Remove all the goals and objectives that you have already achieved. Adopt new and fresh strategies that help you to move forward.

A GOOD BUSINESS PLAN IS NEVER DONE: A professional and proper planning process can never be done. It requires review time to time review and revision.

Updating a business plan is must for the success and growth of a business plan. Don’t think your business plan a useless document that is just made in order to cover under dust. Review and update it monthly or annually because a good business plan can never be done.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/business-articles/updating-the-business-plan-a-key-to-the-successful-growth-of-a-business-2630118.html

Engineering Business Plan is more important in a Recession

How is the recession affecting your business? Do you have more business or less? When do you expect the economy to recover? Initially, the recession caught many engineering firms unprepared for the rapid decline in business. Are you sure that the current and expected market changes are reflected in your business plan? These are all questions that need to be answered in your business plan; your company’s business road map.

It might surprise you that most business owners know that they need to have an up-to-date business plan. But many entrepreneurs can not seem to find the time required for reviewing and making the necessary analysis to keep it current. So if you have not already, now is the time to review your plan and periodically make modifications.  

During a slump in the economy it is imperative to manage your business as proficiently as possible. Most engineers have extreme technical skills, but not necessarily the same level of business skills. An engineer will have spent 8 to 10 years in college and post graduate training before being licensed as a Professional Engineer without ever taken one class in business.

When the projection of incoming revenues slow or stop coming in the door your first reaction is to find more clients from the same source and second to cut costs by downsizing. This may not be the right business steps to take. Usually the better action is to re-examine each of your markets and clients in those markets, and to determine if those markets change in direction is temporary or long term, and then to careful review your company’s services and products. Operating any business should be a constant review of the process of that business, and whether it is operating at its best. Mistakes in the operation of the business during the good times are easy to compensate, but during the not so good times the same mistakes can close the business. A careful review may also show that your company is relying on one market to heavily and may need to diversify into other markets.

The kitchen table sketch may have been the beginnings of an engineering business plan, but as the company continues to operate and grow, the business plan needs to be formalized and updated periodically. The engineering business plan is nothing more then an outline, summarizing how the company will operate to be a successful business. Within the plan there are estimates based on industry research and personal experience which determines how much the company can expect to profit. This is established by quantifying the amount of services and products to be sold minus the expenses. It is one of the business owner’s primary responsibilities to work on the business through the process of reviewing and updating the business plan.

A business plan describes the direction and purpose of the engineering firm. Without a plan the company can and often will wonder aimlessly, and may eventually fail. A slowing economy can be very damaging to poorly structured companies whether they are large or small.  These companies are usually not in a position to handle the changing market conditions, and end up closing their doors. The stronger companies are usually better managed with an operations plan in place to handle the ups and downs of the economy or the changing target market conditions.  Companies following good business plans whether small or large tend to survive a recession, and are set to expand during the economy’s recovery period.

There are numerous sources of information, including books, computer software, and websites on the subject of business plans. Unfortunately most of these sources address the generic business such as retail or service businesses.  There is no business like a professional service business like engineering.  

A very good resource is the United States Small Business Administration website www.sba.gov. According to the website, the minimal requirements for a business plan are as follows:
1.    Description of the business: What is the structure of the business, and what are the services and products it provides?
2.    Marketing: What are the potential clients and how will the business communicate with them?
3.    Finances: What are the expected revenues sources and what are the expenses? Also what are the potential profits and losses?
4.    Management: Who are the key personnel and who is responsible for the various functions of the company?
Making good use of a up-to-date business plan is on of the best ways to attack the recession. It is no time like now to review and, if necessary, update your business plan. Write out the strategies that will improve all four areas of your business. Next implement those strategies, and monitor their daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly results. And lastly, make adjustments in those areas in the plan that are not meeting your expectations.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/management-articles/engineering-business-plan-is-more-important-in-a-recession-2940241.html

Ahern and Associates Outlines the Importance of a Business Plan for Trucking Companies

If you’re a trucking company, you should know that it’s critical to have a business plan.  Many trucking companies have business plans for 1 to 3 years, and 5 years with specific goals and objectives. Those goals and objectives are made clear to all of their employees, then adjusted, based upon market conditions and hope to achieve a desired result.

However, I’ve worked with many business owners who simply don’t plan. In some instances, no matter how long they’ve been in business, they don’t have a solid business formula for success. It’s critical that, if you want to expand your business re-energize your business you need to start by having a plan.

For many, that seems very time consuming and frustrating, but that’s why many trucking companies, today, are facing financial challenges.  For instance, they don’t understand their cost, they don’t operate their business utilizing cash flow management or review or receive their financial data on a weekly and monthly basis.  In addition, they don’t monitor truck utilization the way they should, and then wonder why they’re in trouble.

When you start a business, there are normally many things that go through your mind. However, one of the goals is to obtain financial security. To reach that end, you need to know exactly where you want to go, how long it’s going to take you to get there and what obstacles you may encounter along the way.

A business plan provides a detailed “road map” to turn your desires into a reality. Granted; business plans take a lot of time and energy to write, but the time is well worth the efforts. Particularly if you’re expanding, or you need to borrow additional working capital for your business.

A business plan walks you through every aspect, every question mark, helping to make sure that you have considered every important factor and not overlooked anything significant. When you’re developing a business plan, some details may seem insignificant, but they are not.

Trucking is a pennies business. Trucking is a cyclical business. There are many factors that trucking companies can’t control such as;

1.    Fuel cost;
2.    Accidents;
3.    Insurance premium increases.
4.    The weather, and;
5.    The economy.

However, knowing that you have numerous variables that can directly impact the success or failure of your business, you need to plan for both the highs and lows of our industry – yet, many trucking companies do not. They wait until it’s too late, or they simply bury their heads in the sand and figure that, if they work hard, the rest will take care of itself; a great philosophy, but not a reality.

Many people ask me, “How can a business plan help them succeed?” My answer; it forces you to take a close look at your business and yourself and set specific goals and objectives.

Not every idea makes economic sense. Business plans also set a time line for results and it forms a basis for a company to hold their employees accountable, for their respective jobs.

Some of the things that I’ve noticed in my consulting practice is that employers expect their employees to perform but they do not provide them with specific goals and objectives or with specific time frames in which to accomplish the goals and objectives.  Plus, if the employee doesn’t perform or meet their expectations, it is assumed it is the employees fault; maybe yes, and maybe no!

In this economic environment, it’s imperative that employees become assets and not liabilities. Trucking companies have enough liabilities and they certainly do not need more liabilities with their employees.

In essence, a written business plan acts as a resume of your company, a tool for introducing your business to bankers, customers, vendors and it defines who you are or who you want to be. For many companies, it’s very difficult to differentiate profits from cash. Believe it or not, you can have a profitable company that’s going broke. I know it sounds crazy but it’s true and very common. Just because a company is making sales and creating orders, doesn’t mean that the cash is coming in.

When you look at the financial condition of the trucking industry today, its clear that shippers are extending credit terms whether you like it or not. You may dispatch a truck and not get paid for 45, 60, 90 days–that’s 45 – 90 days after you’ve created the invoice and sent it to the customer.

Meanwhile, you still need to pay all of your overhead. The idea of a business plan is to have more cash flowing in then out of the business, and at the same time, planning for the inevitable financial challenges.

To ensure your company’s future survival, you need to be prepared for anything. Changes occur all the time and a business that keeps up with the economy is the one that will survive.

However, before you can figure out how to deal with upcoming challenges, you first have to identify what they could be and where they may come from. This task requires some insight and imagination, but it also takes experience. If you don’t believe that you have the expertise to be able to determine market conditions, get help and talk to some of your “mentors” in the industry.

One practical way to address potential challenges so you can adjust to them, most easily, is to perform an analysis of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunites and threats.

The first two, strength and weaknesses, describe your company’s internal state of affairs. The last two, opportunities and threats, define what potentially exists for your company to grow and potential pitfalls that can cause failure.

If you want your business to succeed, in a highly competitive world, you must define and separate it from all your competitors. That means taking an honest look at your strong points and weak points, and recognize the factors outside your direct control that can influence your business.

To perform a successful analysis, you need to look at your business with a detached, realistic mind. Keep your points brief, use phrases not paragraphs, and come up with specifics for each category that define why your trucking company or logistics company differentiates you from your competitors.

A business plan is the beginning of the process, and over the next several weeks, I will discuss in greater detail.

In the meantime, as you are preparing to analyze your business, be realistic about you as an individual.  Continually review your strong and weak points and recognize that no person is perfect, no company can do all things perfectly, and define your weaknesses.

Once you’ve accomplished this task, it is the beginning of “the process”.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/strategic-planning-articles/ahern-and-associates-outlines-the-importance-of-a-business-plan-for-trucking-companies-2953250.html

Business Plan Writers: Should You Hire One?

Are you interested in starting up your own business?  If so, you should carefully consider writing a business plan.  The thought of preparing a business plan tends to fill most business owners with dread; it can be a difficult, stressful, and time consuming process.  For this reason alone you may want to think about seeking assistance.

One of the many ways that you can seek help to write your plan is by hiring a professional, who in this case is a professional business plan writer.

What Is a Professional Business Plan Writer?

Before deciding whether or not you should hire the services of a professional business plan writer, you should first clearly understand what they are.  In most cases, you will find these individuals to be experienced, professional writers who are well versed in business terminology and who can effectively understand the needs of businesses.  It is important to understand when writing anything, even a business plan, that it is the wording which makes all the difference; the words used can be the difference between success and failure. That is why a large number of small business owners turn to professional writers for assistance.

What a Professional Business Plan Writer Can Do For You

When it comes to searching for a professional business plan writer, you will find that different writers perform different duties. For example, a large number of writers will merely take your ideas, which you have already thought out and developed, and present them in a professional matter; they will just present your plans in a more professional way than you could.

Then there are the professional business plan writers who will work with you to develop your plan from the inception of the basic ideas for your business to the finish document.  Naturally since more work and time goes into to assisting you with developing a business plan from the bottom up you will probably find that the services of these writers cost more than traditional ones.

It is important therefore that before you start your search you be very clear in your own mind as to what level of support and input you require.

Why Hire a Professional Business Plan Writer?

There are a number of different reasons why small business owners turn to professional business plan writers. One of the key reasons is of lack of experience when it comes to putting ideas on paper and not knowing what format a plan should take.  If you have never created a business plan before you can easily find yourself staring at a blank piece of paper for hours on end!

Although it is relatively easy to learn how to create your own plan, it can be a time consuming process to undertake the research and get into the appropriate mindset. With the right experience, a professional business plan writer will be able to create a detailed, professional business plan in half the time that it would take you to create the same plan.

How Do You Find Someone?

If you are interested in acquiring the services of a professional business plan writer, you have a number of different options.  One of those options is to search for someone locally.  Dealing with a local business plan writer is great, especially if you want to deal with someone face-to-face.  Your search can focus on your local government business advice centers or even asking fellow business colleagues. If there is a writing group or circle in your locality then you can approach them for potential names.

The only problem that you may find is that not all areas of your country will have professional business plan writers.  This means you may have to turn to the Internet for assistance. By conducting an online search you will find a large number of professional writers who specialize in creating or writing business plans.

What Should You Look For Before Hiring?

When choosing a professional business plan writer it is important that you don’t choose either the first person that you come across, or the cheapest. If a well written business plan is crucial to the success of your plans then you must be careful in your selection. Your business plan may not only be used for your personal guidance, but it may also be used to attract financing for your business and that is why your plan must look professional, be detailed and readable.

Before hiring a writer, you should request samples of previous work and also ask to see testimonials from business owners who have used their services.  This will help to ensure you are getting your moneys worth and that you end up with a business plan you can proud distribute.

As with any contract you enter into be very certain what you are getting for your money. Does the contract include the provision for free updates or unlimited revisions before the final version is agreed? Will you be charged per word, per page, or by the hour? Make sure you fully understand the deal.

By following these points you should be able to decide whether or not a professional business plan writer can assist you.  Whilst they can be an additional cost you may not be able to afford, in the long run it could be the best investment you ever made.

You will find a complete guide on how to write a business plan in my e-book ‘The Secrets of Writing a Killer Business Plan’.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/business-opportunities-articles/business-plan-writers-should-you-hire-one-2993229.html

Five Inconvenient Truths About UK Business Plans

I am a business advisor so I talk to a lot of business owners and it constantly astounds me how many do little or no planning.  Without a plan, or at the very least an income and expenditure and a cash flow forecast, it is very difficult to know how well your business is performing let alone where it is headed.  Writing a business plan need not be a huge chore, there are plenty of good software programmes around. Good programmes usually include ready made business plans to give you a head start.

1.  Many UK companies don’t have a business plan

Not having a business plan is like walking around in the dark without a torch. You may get where you are going but it will take longer and you may tip over several times on route.  I recently helped a business move from being loss making to making a good profit.  All I had to do was plot forecast income and expenditure for it to became blindly obvious that, unless my client put up his prices, he would continue to fail.  The forecast showed that there was no way that he could realistically bring in enough new clients to become profitable.  A small price increase against existing client accounts soon sorted most of his problem.  If he had an active, simple business plan, which he could have easily put together using software such as Business Plan Pro, he would not have got into difficulty in the first place and would have saved money by not needing my services.

2.  Start-up businesses are often too optimistic in their income forecasts

We all tend to be over optimistic.  There are plenty of high profile, high value projects that ended up with a price tag many time greater than the initial budget forecast — the building of the Channel Tunnel or the Millenium Dome (now the O2 Area in Greenwich) are just two examples.  Getting input from professional business plan writers is one way to deal with this problem.  Having an active business plan also means that you can monitor actual performances against your plan and take action if you see that things are going off course.

3. Business owners don’t know what is in their business plans

This can happen when professional business plan writers are brought in.  The plan they create is great and secures the funds the business needs, but all too often the business owner manager never really understood what was in their plan. It collects dust on the shelf so is of little ongoing use and their business risks going off track.

4. Start-up companies do a bad job of identifying their target markets

Perhaps one of the most tricky elements of the business plan is identifying your target market.  Its not necessary to do lots of research but it is important to think deeply about what you know about the people who will buy your products and services. Who are they? How old are they? How wealthy are they? Where do they live? What to they like and dislike? Where and how to they currently buy similar services and products? If you have worked through these questions for each of your products and uses this data to write the marketing section of your business plan that is a good start. If you also devise a mechanism for monitoring sales against your assumptions you will have good information to inform your marketing strategies and improve you sales forecasts as your business develops.

5. Once the business plan is written it just collects dust somewhere

Too many UK business plans are buried somewhere in the office once they have been written.  A business plan is a tool for managing your business performance. It needs to be kept up to date and used as a monitoring tool. Good business planning software includes monitoring tools so it is easy to monitor actual income, expenditure and cash flows against your plans which is essential to avoiding failure.

In the current economic climate it is essential that businesses have plans and that all UK Business Plans are live documents. Your business plan should be an essential tool to help you manage your business through the downturn.  If you are not familiar with writing a business plan buy a good software programme such as Business Plan Pro, which includes templates and ready made business plans, or seek help from professional business plan writers.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/management-articles/five-inconvenient-truths-about-uk-business-plans-3011881.html

3 Reasons you Should Write your Own Business Plan

I know. I know. You are too busy to write your own business plan, but your banker is asking you to provide the bank with a copy of your business plan for your loan application.  What do you do?  Well many small business owners may decide to take the easy way out, and send their information to an online business planner like:

  • Masterplans.com
  • Growthink.com
  • Ethos360.com

Don’t get me wrong I am sure these professional business planners provide a great product and service, but you are missing out when you are not writing your own business plan.  There are 3 specific reasons I believe that you should write your own business plan.

  1. You Know Best – Professional business planners know how to write, format, build financial projections, and make your business plan look “pretty”.  What they don’t know is your business.  You built the business, you live and breathe it each and every day.  Even though you may not be able to develop a 500 page excel template with your financial projections for the next 100 years, you know your pricing model, you know where to acquire new business, you know what your customers think about your product or service.  Take what you know and build your own business plan.  Then you will actually be able to use it, even after your submit your loan application.  If you don’t think you have the writing skills to craft a strong plan, then write what you can, and bring your plan to your local SBDC counselor for a free review of your plan. SBDC Locator
  2. You will Learn Something New – I can guarantee you, no matter how long you have run your business or how much of an expert in your field you are, you will learn something new if you write your own business plan.  One area where you will almost certainly learn something new is your Competitor Overview section.  Your competition is constantly changing in this global marketplace.  Six months ago your biggest competition may have been on the other side of town, and now it may be a company based in China or India.  Franklin Adams said, “I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.”  Writing your own business plan may just give you the opportunity to stumble upon something that could completely change your business for the better.  Just give it a chance.
  3. It’s Free – I know that your time is money, and writing your own business plan will take a considerable amount of your time, but professional business planners are expensive.  For most small business owners $4,000 is a lot of money, but if you are successful enough to throw away $4,000 to have someone else write your business plan, then by all means, go for it!  Now for the rest of us, go to the Small Business Administration website and access their free business plan template that includes links with explanations of what you should include in each section. Essential Elements of a Good Business Plan for Growing Companies For most small business owners this will be sufficient.  Again remember to make use of your local SBDC counselor, who will review your business plan for free.  If you are still unsatisfied with your plan, then you can send it to a professional business planner to improve.  They will probably be able to improve the aesthetics of your plan, and maybe improve your wording to help better relate to your banker.  A professional business plan review should save you thousands of dollars, and allow you to gain the benefits of writing your own plan.

So give it a try, you might just learn something and save a lot of money too!

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/small-business-articles/3-reasons-you-should-write-your-own-business-plan-3035773.html

How to put your Business Plan into Actual Use

I wrote my own for my firm Lemongrass Consulting.  I read books and figured out the sales forecast; and financial expenses and revenue projections.  When my firm became Small Business Administration (SBA) 8a certified, I wrote our SBA Form 1010c Business Plan.

I am a strategic planner and AICP certified city planner.  In the 1990s, I actually worked as a city planner managing transportation improvement programs, capital improvement programs, and comprehensive development plans.  These are mega project oriented plans.  I coordinated the City of Atlanta’s 1997 Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) and its accompanying Capital Improvement Program (CIP) representing 400 projects valued at $3.6 Billion.  I also managed the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Transportation [Environmental] Enhancement Activities (TEA) program was 90 proposed projects valued at $62 Million.

What I learned as a city planner is that plans can be extremely pie in the sky.  They can be pretty elaborate wish lists to appease political constituents.  These types of plans rarely get implemented because there will never be enough money to fund the proposed projects.

As a business owner, I learned that plans need to be much more realistic and broken down into doable action items that result in real return on investment (ROI) and generate real revenue so that real paychecks can be drawn.

Here are some tips:

(1)     Your sales forecast is just that – a forecast.  It is not carved in stone and will likely not match actual sales.  Start with reasonable assumptions and adjust as reality sets in.  Your actual sales may be less.  This is usually the case.  However, you may have great fortune and your actual sales may surpass your forecasted sales.

(2)     If after regular, periodic, scheduled reviews, your actual sales are significantly lower than your forecast, desired sales, then you may want to re-engineer your business model, get sales coaching help, or take some other course of action to increase sales.

(3)     Start ups should start with short term business plans which depicts your sales goals and anticipated expenses in short quarterly increments of 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months.

(4)     For the purpose of having a long term vision, create a 3 or 5 year vision with annual sales goals and anticipated expenses.

(5)     The business plan goals should be used to influence your operational decisions as you conduct business from day to day.

Here is how No. 5 would work.  You would simply put a summary of your business plan sales forecast and anticipated budgeted expenses on your desk as a daily constant reminder of where to drive your ship.  Take this summary financial operating plan and gage your actual performance against it.  For example, if you need to decide whether or not to spend money to hire a staff person or consultant; or to order certain equipment or supplies, then look over at your business plan first.  Ask yourself whether the proposed expense is in alignment with your plan.  Ask yourself whether taking on this particular new consulting project or product sales order will catapult you any closer to your sales and profit goals.

Some may argue that business plans should not be the focus of your operations.  I beg to differ.  I think the plan needs to be right in front of you.  In my opinion, it is akin to a simple daily “things to do” list.  For example, on any given day you may list out that you need to go to the post office, to the office supply store, to a few meetings, send some emails, do some data entries, etc.  This is your road map.  If you were able to get it all done, you would have a sense of accomplishment.

A business plan is no different.  You look over at your business plan and you let it guide and drive your business decisions so that you can achieve real results.

Another thing I learned as a city planner is that it is important to get buy-in.  In order to decide whether or not to include a project in a CDP and its accompanying CIP, city planning professionals hold public meetings to get feedback. Business owners should also get input from individuals they may need buy-in from.  Internally, they should make sure the business leadership team has an opportunity to comment on budget and sales projections.  This may be a great way to get a dose of reality from differing perspectives.  Externally, business owners can turn to nonprofit organizations or other consultants that help small businesses and have dealt with bankers that loan to small businesses.

Cash is Queen!  If you are starting a business, you may want to save first.  I heard and read two different schools of thoughts when I first started years ago.  Some advocate that you do not need money to get started and to make money.  That may prove true for some.  But, I can tell you there are very real expenses if you want to go about being in business the right, professional way: phone, fax, website hosting, graphics design, office supplies, domain name registration, taxes.  The taxes can crush you.

This leads us to the second school of thought which is save first.  I have heard that it is best to save 3 months, 6 months or 1 year of your business operating expenses before you launch.  The idea is to not be dependent on sales at all.  But rather, have savings to invest in your business venture.

If I could do it over, I would have saved extensively while building my network of relationships and client base.  Of course, hindsight is 20:20.

I was in the City of Atlanta’s Watershed Department Small Business Development Program.  The accounting trainer advised us to bank our customer payments and cut ourselves pay checks.  But, she advised that we should put our pay checks away in a drawer and forget about them.  This will build up cash in your business bank account and help you to earn creditability so that you can later get lines of credit and loans.  Well, what if you were a single mom? What if you actually need to cash that pay check?  I am a single mom and this tactic would have never worked for me.

If you make it without planning ahead and implementing your plans, you are probably making it on pure luck.  We have all heard people state that business success is 90% luck.  Well, it really does not have to be.  We can choose to draft and work a plan, or we choose to leave our futures in the hand of Lady Luck.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/small-business-articles/how-to-put-your-business-plan-into-actual-use-3044387.html

Write a Great Business Plan with these 3 Free Resources

Like I have mentioned before you can outsource your business plan writing to an online, professional business plan writer, and pay thousands of dollars, or you can write your business plan yourself, for free.  You may know that I think writing your business plan is an important exercise that every business owner should work through; however, you may be more interested in crafting a great business plan for the least amount of dollars.  I can understand that, so today I want to point you to 3 Free Resources that will help you write a pretty sweet business plan.

 

1.  Startupnation Knowledge Hub – This site will provide you with a great foundation before you even start writing your business plan.  Check out the Knowledge Hub where you will be able to search for a number of different topics including business plan writing.  Here you will find dozens if not hundreds of articles providing you with “expert” advice for your business plan writing endeavor.  Don’t take everything they say as gospel though because business plan writing is not an exact science.  The various contributors all have different opinions, so read through a few of the articles and make note of the items that come up time and time again.  That will give you a strong foundation in which to build your business plan.

 

2. Business Plan Generator – This sounds a bit strange, and I have not used this myself yet because I just came across it this morning, but it seems to have some good feedback.  At the very least this may help you lay a foundation and an outline for your plan.  Go to DealHorizon.com and click on the Business Plan Generator link on the right side.  Apparently you will submit information about your business and it will generate a basic business plan for free.  The sites founder claims that, “Creating a business plan and five-year financial model using DealHorizon.com should take you less than an hour.”  Give it a try and let me know what you think.  I hope to submit a plan to it myself to test it out in the next week or so.

 

3. The Small Business Administration – Small business owners tend to misunderstand the role of the SBA.  Many even think that they provide grants from small businesses.  This probably has to do with those stupid TV commercials that suggest that the government passes out grants to small businesses like candy.  Although the SBA does not provide small businesses with grants, they do offer various loan programs, but more importantly they offer access to a number of free resources.  If you use the free business plan generator to get started I would suggest comparing your generated plan to the outline provided at Business Plan Outline.  Make the necessary improvements to your plan as suggested by the SBA’s outline descriptions, and then take your plan to your local Small Business Development Center SBDC Locator for a free business plan review and one-on-one coaching.

 

If you make use of these 3 free resources my guess is that you will come away with a professional looking plan, and more importantly a plan that will serve you as a roadmap as you start or grow your business.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/small-business-articles/write-a-great-business-plan-with-these-3-free-resources-3074090.html

3 Reasons Why You Should NOT Write a 1 Page Business Plan

Many of you may have heard of the 1 Page Business Plan.  A smart, and now rich man, once determined that business plans were too long, and that often times VIP’s and decision makers don’t even read past the first couple pages of your business plan.  In response to this problem he created the 1 Page Business Plan brand.  He wrote books, trained others, and made a fortune I am sure.  Although his assumptions were correct that many people will not read more than a page or two of your business plan, there are still a number of reasons why you should not simply write a 1 page business plan.

Credibility – Whether a banker or investor actually reads your entire business plan is besides the point. Handing over a nicely bound and professionally written business plan to your banker will provide immediate credibility that you have done the work.  On the other hand, if you simply write a one page business plan, which is essentially an executive summary, it will look like you have not done the work and the research to validate your business endeavour.  The business plan gives the banker or potential investor the impression that you have at least considered items like your competition, your marketing plan, and your business model.

Business Plans are for Internal Use – The purpose of a business plan is not only to appease a banker or investor, rather a business plan can be valuable for internal use.  If you have a simple one page business plan you will probably run out of direction for your business after week one.  Your business plan should be an internal road map for you business that is constantly changing and adapting with the competitive environment you find your business in.

The Purpose of an Executive Summary is to Intrigue the Reader – If your executive summary or one page business plan is successful, it will intrigue the banker or investor to ask for more questions or more detail about your business.  If all you wrote was an executive summary, what extra detail can you provide?  A full business plan will allow you to provide interested parties with additional detail regarding your business.

Ultimately there are a number of reasons why you should write a full business plan.  The value of a one page business plan or an executive summary is that is compels the reader to ask for more.  It should be intriguing and should supplement a document that provides the reader with more detail on any aspect of the business that they wish to learn more about.  Keep this in mind as you consider taking the easy way out when writing your business plan.

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Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/small-business-articles/3-reasons-why-you-should-not-write-a-1-page-business-plan-3154222.html