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Overcoming Business Plan Blues Part 1

Aug 17, 2007
Want to see an entrepreneur's eyes glaze over? Ask, "How long did it take you to write your business plan?"

You will probably get a better answer by asking a spinster, "How's your love life?" When it comes to drafting the much dreaded business plan, most entrepreneurs, especially those in a startup situation, would rather undergo a root canal.

We know the merits of having a business plan -- after all, every business consultant or business counselor, worth his or her salt touts the immense value of such a plan. Most entrepreneurs don't like doing business plans because we like "flying by the seat of our pants, and just like our love lives, we believe the spice of life centers around spontaneity.

However romantic and noble that may sound, if you want to a successful love life, then you need a plan for it. If you don't, you can rest assured that someone else will.

Subconsciously, most of us have a plan for our love life. It may not be on paper, but (with respect to The Spinners) it goes something like this: "Once, there was a boy and girl. Boy says, 'I love you so. Girl says, 'I'll never leave you.' But they grew older and left each other because that's the way love goes."

It happens. Most of us have a business plan in our head.

We know what we want and think we know how to get there. But just any relationship, where other people are involved (spouses, boyfriends and girlfriends, significant others) you must articulate your purpose to them so that everyone find themselves on the same page.

The same goes for business -- key members of your team (managers, employees, customers, suppliers, bankers, accountants) should always be aware of every step you take with your business. Remember, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

I made money in high school by being paid to write love letters for other students, (most notably athletes). I spent a great deal of time trying to capture on paper the mindset of particular students and convey their thoughts, dreams and goals to whomever the letters were addressed to.

Now, I see a parallel in writing a love letter and a business plan. Since many of us say we love our business, in order to spice up, let me suggest a paradigm shift so that you might look at writing your business plan in another light.

The components of a business plan usually vary depending upon the needs of the individual. Below are nine of the more common sections of a business plan, which at first glance may seem overwhelming:

Executive Summary -- This section is written last, but it summarizes the key elements of the business plan.

The Industry -- An overview of the industry that your business will be in; trends, major players, and estimated sales. This will also include a summary of where your business ranks.

Market Analysis -- An examination of the primary target market for your product or service, the geographic location, demographics, needs and how the needs get served today.

Competitive Analysis - An in-dept look at your direct and indirect competitors, assessing their advantages and how you plan to overcome any entry barriers to your market.

Marketing Plan -- A point by point account of your sales strategy, pricing, advertising and promotion, and the benefits of your product or services.

Management Plan -- Outlines your legal structure and management team, outside management resources, and human resources.

Operations -- Describes your physical location, facilities and equipment, employees, inventory, suppliers, and manufacturing process.

Financials -- Describes your funding requirements, detailed financial statements, and financial statements.

Appendices and Exhibits -- Additional information that will help establish the credibility of your business idea, such as marketing studies, photographs of your product, contracts or other legal agreements.

In part 2, we will reveal a unique way of looking at the business plan which will at least make you smile as you put it together.
About the Author
Marvin D. Cloud provides a self-publishing alternative at mybestseller.com. For a free writers' workbook and online marketing tips, go to http://mybestseller.com/html/marketing_tips.
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