A complete, thoughtful business plan is one of the most valuable tools in helping you reach your long-term goals. It gives your business direction, defines your objectives, maps out strategies to achieve your goals and helps you to manage possible bumps in the road.
Business plans may be internally or externally focused. Externally focused plans target goals that are important to external stakeholders, particularly financial stakeholders. They typically have detailed information about the organization or team attempting to reach the goals. With for-profit entities, external stakeholders include investors and customers. External stake-holders of non-profits include donors and the clients of the non-profits services. For government agencies, external stakeholders include tax-payers, higher-level government agencies, and international lending bodies such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, various economic agencies of the United Nations, and development banks.
You may want to consider the following key questions to help determine if you are ready to start writing your business plan.
~ Have you thoroughly refined your business idea so you have a good understanding of how your business will operate?
~ Have you researched your business concept to determine if there is a need for it in the marketplace?
~ Have you completed a feasibility study to determine expected level of success?
~ Do you have the money required to start and grow the business?
~ Are you prepared to invest significant time into the business to get it up and running?
A business plan is a living document that maps out the details of your business. It covers what your business will sell, how it will be structured, what the market looks like, how you plan to sell your product or service, what funding you’ll need, what your financial projections are, and which permits, leases, and other documentation will be required.
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