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At least half of the many small business owners that I work with do not have a written business plan. If you’re planning to raise money from investors or lenders, a business plan is also a necessity. You may hope to run your company as one big happy family – and it may work out that way – but organizations require formal structure and investors will expect to see these issues addressed in your plan.

Your plan should include the techniques that you will implement to generate leads, increase conversion and retain customers. Yet, for most potential business owners this option for business planning remains a fantasy. But when writing such plans it is important to remain flexible and be able to navigate a new path when new information presents itself.

You’ll need to build a business plan before you do. Experienced entrepreneur and consultant Mike Figliuolo walks through the process of defining your business, researching the market, and determining your product. Sometimes, the best way to get inspiration for your own business plan is to see examples from other businesses.

Now that the reader understands your industry, you should talk about your target market, which is the specific group of customers that you want to focus on. Sure, you’d probably sell your product to anyone willing to buy it, but in this section it’s important to narrow it down and describe a specific type of “ideal” customer.

Vending Machine Business

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There are additional financial considerations and financial plans to possibly include in this initial assessment (see the “contents of a business plan section” in this guide).

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First, a good business plan gives you a way of monitoring and measuring your success. Starting your business plan with a structured outline and key details about what you’ll include in each section is the best first step you can take. And you don’t have to start with the full, detailed business plan that I’m going to describe here. The resulting document can serve as the blueprint for your business and be supplied to financial institutions or investors if debt or equity financing is needed to get your business off the ground.

Knowledge of your competitive advantage is just as important in designing a dynamic sales effort as it is in developing an effective marketing campaign. Business Owner’s Toolkit Samples of business plans and other tools. They also provide a business plan checklist to ensure you’re including all the right information.

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A business plan precisely defines your business, identifies your goals, and serves as your firm’s resume. If you’re planning to buy an existing business or already own a business you would like to improve or expand, you will also need to provide a detailed historical financial summary of how well – or poorly – the business has done in the past. This is where you can invest time in understanding who you’re selling to, whether there’s demand for your products, and who else is selling similar products or services.

Sections of your business plan will primarily be informed by your ideas and vision, but some of the most crucial information you’ll need to include relies on research from independent sources. If you are too busy building your product, company, or customers (which is arguably a better use of your time), consider outsourcing the development of the business plan.
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This article provides a detailed business plan outline as well as a step by step guide to writing a business plan. To help, I’ve put together a library of the best free tools and resources to help you start selling and marketing your business, and a complete guide on how to start a business. After you’ve laid out your business’s organizational structure, it’s time to dive into the product or service your business provides.

Kise