Business Plans For Dummies
A well-developed business plan is critical for any start-up business. To develop a thorough business plan, research your customers and competition; avoid mistakes that lead to business failure; and know how to implement a business plan and make it work. Your business plan should include a basic financial statement, all major pieces of a business plan, and information from your business-planning checklist.
Basic Financial Statements for Your Business Plan
A large part of your business plan includes your financial statements. Financial statements are formal records of your business’s financial activities; they provide a summary (short and long term) of your financial condition. The four basic financial statements are
Income statement: Your bottom line ¯ subtracting costs from revenue to come up with net profit
Balance sheet: A financial snapshot that shows what you own, what you owe, and what your company is worth
Cash flow statement: A cash monitor that follows the flow of cash in and out of your company
Budget: Your financial forecast that indicates where you plan to make and spend money
Writing Business Plans: How to Identify Customers and Competitors
A critical part of a successful business plan is identifying your customers and the competition. Solid business plans incorporate research on potential customers and competitors. Begin by asking the following questions, and then apply the tips on how to become a winning business:
Three Customer Questions
Who is buying?
What do they buy?
Why do they buy?
Three Competitor Questions
How big are they?
Which customers are they after?
What is their strategy?
Three Ways to Win
Cut costs to the bone
Offer something unique
Focus on one customer group
Making a Business Plan Work
A business plan is a strategy for survival that looks at your company today (understanding your surroundings) and then into the future. Your business plan will help you prepare if you include these elements:
Plans: Company mission, vision, goals, and objectives that all work together
Organization: A structure for your company that makes sense
Procedures: Efficient and effective ways of doing things
Leadership: An ability to influence and encourage others around you
Skills: The talents and expertise your people need to succeed
Culture: Beliefs and attitudes that lead to doing the right thing
Basic Parts of a Business Plan
When you’re putting together a business plan, divide the plan into these basic sections — which every quality business plan should have:
You have a number of essential tasks to complete before you write your business plan. Having a clear picture of your goals and how to attain them is at the core; but consider the other factors on this list of business-planning essentials:
Get everyone involved in setting goals and objectives
Learn all you can about your customers
Understand who your competitors are
Identify your strengths and weaknesses relative to opportunities and threats
Determine which capabilities you absolutely need to succeed
List all the things you do that add customer value
Make sure that you do your financial homework
Imagine several different versions of your company’s future
How to Avoid Business Failure
Two big mistakes while developing your business plan can cause your new business to fail: lack of research and lack of preparedness. Avoid becoming a failed business by making sure you don't commit those mistakes and the following:
Lack of a long-term company vision
Failure to establish clear goals and objectives
Misunderstanding what customers want
Underestimating the competition
Inadequate financial planning
Lack of strong leadership
Ineffective procedures and systems
Absence of critical business skills
Inability to change
Failure to communicate the plan