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Developing a Good Business Plan

Developing a Good Business Plan

Developing a good business plan is essential to launching and maintaining a successful business.  A good business plan will provide you with a roadmap you can use to keep your business on course to profitability.

Start With a Mission Statement

Clearly define what you want your business to be. Outline your business’ core values. What will it stand for? How will it serve customers, and with what products or services? Try to summarize this mission statement into just a few sentences, no more than a paragraph.

Understand Your Customers

Don't assume you know your customers. Talk to them in the context of a new business owner. If you need to keep your start up confidential, then look for ways to find out what their needs are without revealing your plans. But don't ignore your customers during the planning stage. They will be the lifeblood of your business.

Understand Your Product/Service

Along the same lines, you need to thoroughly understand your product or service. Now, you may be a 30-year veteran in your field and know the product inside and out. Even still, there's always new thinking on the horizon and you'll want your business to be at the forefront.

What need does your product or service fill? How will your customers perceive it? How can they benefit from it in ways they haven't thought of? You may already feel like you have a good understanding of your product or service, but now's the time for brainstorming and critical thinking. You may discover markets you hadn't thought of previously.

Understand the Competition

You'll need to know your competition inside and out. Where are they located in relation to your store? Is the field or marketplace crowded with the same type of vendors? What points of differentiation can you define? You can't become obsessed with your competitors. You have your own race to run. But you do need to know they're there.

A Budget is Not a Plan

Finally, develop a detailed business plan, including marketing, profit and loss, competition and product, location, and everything else you'll need to study and be aware of on a day-to-day basis. Your business plan should go through several drafts. Have a trusted colleague look it over. Once it's completed, you'll be ready to start on the road to owning your own business.

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