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Plan Today and Generate Profits Tomorrow

January 15, 2010

A business plan is an indispensable management and operating tool for using your time, capital and energy the most effectively. This plan of action for building a successful small business examines the environment in which you expect your business to operate, including potential problems, cyclical trends and growth opportunities. 

If you plan to seek financing, it is all but certain that a lender will require a business plan as part of the loan application. Putting your objectives in writing as you build a business plan also forces you to think realistically about sales, expenses and short- and long-term goals. The more specific and measurable your goals are, the better. 

A complete business plan should identify: target customers and how you plan to attract them; timelines for adding staff and infrastructure; approaches to differentiating your products and services from competitors; and, a host of other considerations. Ideally, it will show anyone who sees it that you have done your industry research as well. 

Every business plan starts with a cover page containing your contact information, which is vital to loan officers and any other financial backers, and a warning that the document contains private information. The sections that follow include: 

  • table of contents
  • executive summary
  • description of the company and its strategy
  • overview of the market
  • specifics of the product or service
  • plan for sales and promotion
  • financial issues and projections
  • appendix

 A business plan benefits both start-up and established businesses that need to reassess their goals and strategies. A free workbook, How to Really Start Your Own Business, is available from SCORE Lancaster, “Counselors to America’s Small Business.” This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates. SCORE mentors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan. 

SCORE’s more than 50 volunteer counselors are ready to help you with any other aspect of your business, whether it is still a dream or has become your livelihood. Call us at 717-397-3092, or find us online at www.scorelancaster.org.

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