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Business Plan Information

What is a Business Plan?

A Business Plan, also known as a startup proposal or small business outline, is a document that business founders use to outline the goals for an existing or new business. This includes the marketing, financial, and operational aspects of the company. A Business Plan helps to solidify company goals and objectives so that everyone involved has a clear idea of how to direct the business in the future.

What do I need to know to create a Business Plan?

Although many inclusions in a Business Plan are optional, you should still have an understanding of the basics. When creating a Business Plan, you will be asked for information regarding:

  • The type of industry that the business will conduct transactions in, e.g. retail, real estate, agriculture, or entertainment
  • The company's structure, which includes a partnership, sole proprietorship, corporation, or other
  • The management structure of the business
  • Your advertising strategy and target market
  • Information about your competitors and your advantages over them
  • Operational details
  • Staffing requirements
  • Financial requirements and business assets

You may also provide details about current and future products and services, proprietary rights, and more.

What is a SWOT analysis in a Business Plan?

A SWOT analysis is something that potential founders can use to determine the viability of a proposed business. SWOT stands for:

S-Strengths. Strengths are the positive aspects of your business, such as investors, originality, etc.

W-Weaknesses. Weaknesses include things such as funding or lack of skills.

O-Opportunities. Opportunities define how your business can experience positive growth. This could mean the potential to reach a new target market, weak competition, or to easily adjust to new technology.

T-Threats. Threats are perceived negatives to your business idea, such as strong competitors, an oversaturated market, or the inability to grow with changing markets or technological requirements.

A SWOT analysis can help you to determine how defined your business idea is, showing you potential problem areas before you invest time and money into building it.

What is a "company forecast"?

A company forecast is where you lay out your business goals and objectives and timelines for both. Your goals should be attainable, and your time estimate should be reachable. Be as detailed as possible about where you expect your company to be by a given date so that, when you reach that date, you can re-evaluate your plan and adjust it accordingly if need be.

Do I need to update my Business Plan?

Business Plans are basic documents that help to organize your company, from concept to establishment. As your goals and forecast change with time, it is important to update them so that everyone involved can be aware of your new direction.

It's recommended that you review your Business Plan once a year, or in the following circumstances:

  • You change your business direction entirely
  • There is a market change that affects your business
  • New technology becomes available that is relevant to your products or services
  • You gain or lose significant profit
  • You need to expand or downsize your staff
  • You are branching out with a new product or service
  • Your competitors change
  • After any significant changes that affect your previous Business Plan

Who needs a Business Plan?

A Business Plan is recommended for anyone who:

  • Is developing a new business, including applications, products, services, etc.
  • Is incorporating a business
  • Has an existing business
  • Is a sole proprietor or partner in a business
  • Is evaluating the pros and cons of a new business idea
  • To update or outline departmental goals within a business

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