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Enhance Your Business Plan with Research and Development

Research and development, known as R&D, refers to that part of your business plan that is your ability to gain knowledge in order to design, develop, and enhance your product, services, technologies, or processes. If your company is a high-tech firm, R&D is number one on the list of capabilities crucial to your long-term success.

Even if your company isn’t technology- or manufacturing-based, though, don’t assume that R&D isn’t a necessary capability. Even a one-person consulting business needs research ability to track the competitive arena, find out about prospective customers, and keep on top of industry and client news.

For example, a business that liquidates households for people who can’t do so on their own hardly seems in need of R&D capability. But, think again. The Internet now plays a starring role in the sale of antiques and collectibles — whether through online auctions or through specialized auction and antique sales sites.

And even if the business owners never go near an online sale, almost certainly they’ll use online resources to find out what people are paying for items like the ones they’re selling.

For other businesses, R&D is the key to enhancing business skills, enlarging product and service portfolios, and staying on top of customer, industry, and competitive research. Ways to improve your R&D skills include

  • Attending trade shows with research-related sessions

  • Taking industry-specific courses, in person or online

  • Participating in social media networks with people in your field who share findings, ideas, and advice

    * Subscribing to mailings from innovators in your industry

  • Completing certification programs

  • Updating your computer skills

  • Keeping up-to-date through trade journals and sites

  • Joining an industry group

  • Broadening your awareness of industry, market area, consumer, and industry issues and opportunities

Your business plan should include a section that addresses your R&D capabilities, including the following:

  • The importance of R&D to your competitive success

  • A description of your current R&D capacity (including a description of the expertise of staff and contract sources)

  • Your agenda for R&D over the next year

  • Planned R&D expenditures over the next year

  • Your long-term R&D goals

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