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Opening a new business can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have any experience in the world of business. There are so many things to consider, from identifying the perfect product or service to sell to finding the right financing.
With so many moving parts, getting started can seem rather challenging. A business plan is always a first good step. It will help you lay out your plans, anticipate how you will manage your business and help you get the right financing. In other words, it can really help your company succeed.
A business plan includes:
- Executive summary: Every business plan begins with an executive summary which features basic information about the business, the types of products and services it sells, the state of the industry and future plans. If you are just opening a business, this summary should include your professional experience and the reasons why you think your company will succeed.
- Company description: This section describes your business goal and details the different parts of your company, including the types of product or services it sells, consumer demand and potential new clients. It also describes its competitive advantages in the marketplace, such as its location and type of operation. It can be as long as a few paragraphs, but the shorter the better. The goal is for the reader to have a good idea of what the business is about and understand its competitive advantages.
- Market analysis: Who are the customers? How big is the market? Who is the competition? A market analysis answers many of these questions in detail. You can describe, for example, the type of customers you anticipate having (office workers and area residents) and describe the area where the business is located (there are five commercial buildings and 200 residential apartments within a mile radius, etc.)
- Company organization: Here you explain how your company is organized and who is involved. In other words, describe who is doing what. This information is useful particularly if you’re looking for financing. Bankers need to know how your company is structured and who they are dealing with.
- Description of products and services: Use this section to explain in more detail the products or services you plan to sell. How will your product be consumed? How often? How will consumers benefit from your products?
- Marketing plan: This is your chance to explain in detail how you will market your products and services to potential clients. This can include plans for a website, advertising in local newspapers, promotions or other ads.
- Finances and projections: The purpose of this section is to provide financial information about your company, including short and long-term sales projections. You can also include fixed and variable costs and when the company anticipates profits.
How to Get More Help
The Small Business Administration (SBA) can help you perfect your business plan. Use this locator to find a local SBA office and schedule an appointment.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning small businesses that an e-mail with a subject line “NOTIFICATION OF CONSUMER COMPLAINT” is not from the FTC. The e-mail falsely states that a complaint has been filed with the agency against their company.
The FTC advises recipients not to click on any of the links or attachments with the e-mail. Clicking on the links may install a virus or other spyware on the computer. The FTC’s advice is to delete the email.
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