Looking for the right business plan for your business idea? We recommend the #1 rated business plan software used by the Wall Street Journal (StartupJournal.com) and Yahoo Small Business (smallbusiness.yahoo.com) as well as Inc Magazine, PC Magazine, and PC World. Writing a thorough business plan is an essential step to starting a business regardless of the size of the business. Have a look at some sample business plans to determine what will work best for you.
The best way to show bankers, venture capitalists, and angelinvestors that you are worthy of financial support is to showthem a great business plan. Make sure that your plan is clear, focused and realistic. Then show them that you have the tools, talent and team to make it happen. Your business plan is like your calling card, it will get you in the door where you'll have to convince investors and loan officers that you can put your plan into action.
Once you have raised the money to start or expand your business, your plan will serve as a road map for your business. It is nota static document that you write once and put away. You will reference it often, making sure you stay focused and on track,and meet milestones. It will change and develop as your business evolves.
Do I need a business plan? Not everyone who starts and runs a business begins with a business plan, but it certainly helps to have one. If you areseeking funding from a venture capitalist, you will certainly need a comprehensive business plan that is well thought out andcontains sound business reasoning.
If you are approaching a banker for a loan for a start-up business, your loan officer may suggest a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan, which will require a business plan. If you have an existing business and are approaching a bank for capital to expand the business, they often will not require a business plan, but they may look more favorably on your application if you have one.
Reasons for writing a business plan include:
Support a loan application
Raise equity funding
Define and fix objectives and programs to achieve thoseobjectives
Create regular business review and course correction
Define a new business
Define agreements between partners
Set a value on a business for sale or legal purposes
Evaluate a new product line, promotion, or expansion
What's in a business plan? A business plan should prove that your business will generateenough revenue to cover your expenses and make a satisfactoryreturn for bankers or investors.
Executive Summary--features the highlights of your plan andsells your idea in two pages or less.
Company Summary--a factual description of your company,ownership, and history.
Products (or Services or both)--describes your productsand/or services and how they stand out from competitive productsand services.
Market Analysis-provides a summary of your typical customers,competitive landscape, market size, and expected marketgrowth.
Strategy and Implementation-describes how you will sell yourproduct, how you will put your plan into action, and establishesmilestones.
Management Summary-provides background on the managementteam, their experiences, and key accomplishments.
Financial Plan-contains key financials including sales, cashflow, and profits.
What makes a successful business plan?
A well thought out idea
Clear and concise writing
A clear and logical structure
Illustrates management's ability to make the business asuccess