Developing a business plan is an essential management tool for your business. After you've considered the purpose of your plan and done some background preparation, it's time to consider the actual elements that you'll include in the written document.
A business plan customarily has a number of major elements or sections. Each of these elements serves a particular purpose in the overall presentation of your plan.
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- Cover page -identifies you and your business, and dates the plan.
- Table of contents -makes it easy for readers to find particular documents.
- Executive summary -this is arguably the most important single part of your document. It provides a high-level overview of the entire plan that emphasizes the factors that you believe will lead to success.
- Business background -provides company -specific information, describing the business organization, history, and the product or service the business will provide.
- Marketing plan -presents an analysis of the market conditions that the business faces, sets forth the marketing strategy that the business will follow, and provides a detailed schedule of marketing activities to support sales.
- Action plans -shows how operational and management issues will be resolved, including contingency planning.
- Financial projections -(and historical financial information, if you have it) demonstrate how the business can be expected to do financially if the business plan's assumptions are sound.
- Appendix -presents supporting documents, statistical analysis, product marketing materials, resumes of key employees, etc.
Components of a Business Plan
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