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If you have been in business for several years, chances are you have successfully developed business plans in the past and probably do not need to change what you have done. However, if you are just starting your first business, you may benefit from the following suggestions on how to develop a business plan. These are only suggestions - do not let these suggestions hinder your creativity!
A business plan is, in the simplest terms, a written representation of where a company is going, how it will get there and what it will look like once it arrives. Entrepreneurs, by their very nature, are leaders. Investors, for whom many business plans are written, are followers. A well written business plan communicates the company's plan in a concise and disciplined manner to potential investors and other stakeholders in the company so that they may follow the company leadership.
Most start-up and many development stage companies avoid writing a business plan until they are in need of money to finance the growth of their business. Motivated by the need to raise money from banks, business angels, family, friends, etc., the entrepreneur begins this unique form of communication with the intent of convincing potential investors that they can make a return on their investment (ROI).
It does not matter what the reason for writing a business plan may be, the effort is most beneficial, if you perceive both the business planning process and your company as transformational processes. A well-conceived business plan is not only an excellent selling document, but provides the company senior management with increased acumen which will allow them to effectively use the business planning tool to raise the funds required.
A business plan is only as good as the research and effort which precedes it. Therefore, the purpose of this brief document is to provide you with a generic business plan outline. We, at NCIC, want to help you prepare a well-developed business plan. To this end, one of our strategic partners - Southern Area Manufacturing Small Business Development Center - is available to help you develop your business plan. They can help you identify and develop your objectives, outline your business plan, review your outline, help you write your plan, have your plan reviewed, and help update your plan. The following is a generic business plan outline used by many successful small, medium and large sized businesses.
If you would like to see a more in depth plan, please take a look at our detailed business plan outline.