1. Business Plan: Introduction
  2. Business Plan: Do You Need One?
  3. Business Plan: Describing Your Business
  4. Business Plan: Composing Your Executive Summary
  5. Business Plan: Analyzing Your Industry
  6. Business Plan: Marketing And Sales
  7. Business Plan: Your Organizational And Operating Plan
  8. Business Plan: Your Financial Plan
  9. Business Plan: Presenting Your Plan
  10. Business Plan: Conclusion

By Amy Fontinelle

A business plan is not just a lengthy document that helps you obtain financing. It's truly a thorough examination of whether your business idea is viable. Preparing your business plan in the early stages of developing your business can save you a great deal of time, money and heartache by showing you where the weaknesses in your idea lie and giving you a chance to correct them before you make any serious mistakes.

For example, in the process of putting together your business plan, you might discover that you haven't really thought enough about your marketing budget or you haven't done enough research on government regulations that will affect your business. In putting together your plan, you will be forced to examine your business from the viewpoint of the skeptical potential investor and the skeptical potential consumer, not just from the perspective of the enthusiastic entrepreneur.

Once you've completed your initial plan and, hopefully, obtained the investment or loan you were seeking, keep in mind that your business plan should be a living document. Don't just store your business plan on a shelf and never look at it again, thinking that it has served its purpose. You will want to revisit your plan from time to time, dropping some components and adding others as you learn what works for your business and what doesn't. As your business evolves, you'll find that older versions of your plan provide a helpful reminder of how far you've come. As a bonus, continually updating your plan will put you ahead of the game if you later need to secure additional financing.

There's no question that putting together a good business plan takes a tremendous amount of work. But if you do it right, your effort will pay off. (For more small business tips, see Start Your Own Small Business and Starting A Small Business In Tough Economic Times.)


Related Articles
  1. Entrepreneurship & Small Business

    How To Write A Business Plan

    A well-written business plan will help you gain investor interest, and determine the strengths and weaknesses of your company.
  2. Entrepreneurship & Small Business

    Business Plan: Introduction

    By Amy Fontinelle The purpose of a business plan is to explain in writing what your business idea is, why it is needed in the marketplace, how it will succeed and who will make it happen. ...
  3. Managing Wealth

    Business Plan: Presenting Your Plan

    By Amy Fontinelle Now that you've invested dozens of hours doing research, compiling data, organizing your information and writing it down, it's time to discuss how you should present your plan. ...
  4. Managing Wealth

    Business Plan: Do You Need One?

    By Amy Fontinelle Because writing a business plan forces you to look at your business in great detail, every business owner should really write a business plan no matter what type of business ...
  5. Managing Wealth

    Business Plan: Your Organizational And Operating Plan

    By Amy Fontinelle The organizational and operating plan describes how you will structure your company and how you will actually carry out everything you present elsewhere in your business plan. ...
  6. Managing Wealth

    Business Plan: Describing Your Business

    By Amy Fontinelle In order to prevent your executive summary from being too long, and to give readers more detail on what your business actually does, you'll want to include a business description ...
  7. Professionals

    Start Your Own Small Business

    Quit your job, be your own boss and earn a paycheck. Find out what to do to make it happen.
  8. Investing

    Starting A Small Business In Tough Economic Times

    We provide 6 tips for creating a winning business in a losing economy.
  9. Managing Wealth

    Business Plan: Analyzing Your Industry

    By Amy Fontinelle A good business plan starts with research into the potential business's industry, competitors and market. This gives the business owner a complete understanding of the playing ...
  10. Managing Wealth

    Business Plan: Your Financial Plan

    By Amy Fontinelle The financial part of a business plan includes various financial statements that show where your company currently is financially, and where it intends to be. This information ...
Trading Center