Magazine article Black Enterprise

Before Hanging out Your Shingle ... Create a Business Plan, It Can Be Your Road Map to Success

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Before Hanging out Your Shingle ... Create a Business Plan, It Can Be Your Road Map to Success

Article excerpt

Whether you are just starting a business or have been in operation for 20 years, you need a sound business plan. If done correctly, the document serves as the blueprint for nearly all business decisions, ranging from securing financing to setting management goals and recruiting employees (see "The Do's and Don'ts of Writing a Winning Business Plan," April 1996). However, many businesses continue to operate without them.

"I've talked to so many people who have been in business 10, 15, 20 years and have never written one," says Kimberly Johnson, a business management consultant and author of The Start of Something Big: Your Ultimate Guide to Writing a Dynamic Business Plan (Noted Concepts, $22.95; 619-296-2426). "Some people don't do a plan until they get into the business and decide they need to borrow money."

Business plans provide a road map for guiding your operation. Among other things, they communicate company goals and values. outline sales and marketing strategies and determine financial needs.

This series will walk you through the process of crafting this critical document. Each part will look at a different component of the plan.

A business plan is a living document that should be updated as your operation changes and grows. Generally 20-50 pages in length, it should be typed and bound or placed in a three-ring binder. Business plans should begin with a single cover page identifying your company name, logo, address and telephone number. It should also have a table of contents.

A business plan can easily take six months or more to complete. And while these documents can vary depending on the type of venture, there are some basic elements.

* Executive summary. It includes your company's mission statement, the objective of your business plan and a company description. There's also a three- to four-sentence summation of each of the components of the business plan. …

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