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This outline is intended to assist an entrepreneur in writing a business plan for the establishment, the purchase or the expansion of an existing business.

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a recognized management tool used by successful and/or prospective businesses of all sizes to document business objectives and to propose how these objectives will be attained within a specific period of time. It is a written document which describes who you are, what you plan to achieve, where your business will be located, when you expect to get under way, and how you will overcome the risks involved and provide the returns anticipated.

Why Do You Need a Business Plan?

A business plan will provide information of your proposed venture to lenders, investors, and suppliers to demonstrate how you plan to use their money, and to establish a basis for credibility of your project.

When Should a Business Plan Be Prepared?

The sooner you develop your business plan, the better. You will find that the final copy of your business plan may differ from the original draft, as you will be updating, revising and refining it as you go. It is important that you examine all the relevant factors now. Therefore, you will be able to anticipate any surprises after your business has opened its doors.

Who Should Prepare a Business Plan?

The business plan should be prepared by those persons who will be implementing it.

Outside assistance from consultants, accountants, bookkeepers, and experienced business people can definitely help, but you must draft the initial plan. After all, you are the one that is going to run the business once it is open.

Think through each element of your business plan thoroughly so you have a good understanding of the overall picture and all of the details.

Present your plan to others for constructive criticism and advice, and try to profit from their experience. Modify your plan if necessary.

What's in this for Me?

If you have never drawn up a business plan before, you may be curious as to what the benefits are for you. First and most important, your plan gives you a guide to follow. Second, it gives your lending agency insight into your business opportunity therefore, positively affects your loan application. Finally, your plan may help you develop as a manager by giving you practice in thinking about competitive conditions, promotional opportunities, sources of finance, etc. Your goal is to put the plan into action.

For a more indepth description, click on the section.Business Plan GuideBusiness Plan Indepth DescriptionsAdditional InformationFinancial ProjectionsReferencesPersonnelManagementOperating RequirementsMarketingProject Costs & Project FundingProduct / ServiceExecutive Summary / Business Description