Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Keys on Developing the Best Laid Business Plans

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Keys on Developing the Best Laid Business Plans

Article excerpt

If you have developed a business plan for an exciting new endeavor but can't get any financiers interesting in investing, something may be wrong with your written plan rather than your business idea.

Here are some key pointers based on a compilation of recurring business plan weaknesses from financiers throughout the country.

Creating a business plan is like laying a tile floor; if one of the tiles is crooked, the floor is no good. Any one of the following "tiles" can scuttle an investor's interest in your plan. * Insufficient market research. A business plan full of unrealistic assumptions is worthless. No one wants to read what you think the market is. They want market experts to attest to the strength of the market, followed by your well-thought-out plan of attack: Who are your customers? How will you sell to them? Why will they purchase your product rather than Brand "X"? Seek help from other business owners, trade associations, and library research material. Talk with potential customers (and competitors) to gain further insight. Contact the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) for additional help. Your nearest Small Business Administration (SBA) office can help you find them. * Ignoring the competition. If you overlook the competition, the financiers will overlook your plan. Even though this should be part of your market research effort, it is a commonly overlooked element of business plans. Who are your competitors? What do they offer (products, features and prices)? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How will you succeed in taking market share from them? Include how you expect your competitors to react when you launch your campaign, as well as how you will respond to neutralize this effort. * A poorly focused plan. Your business plan serves two purposes: it should be (1) an operating "bible" for your business, clearly stating how you will succeed, and (2) a tool to attract financing. If financiers perceive your plan is focused only on #2 -- and the vast majority are -- they will consider your plan to be worthless, because it doesn't show any written operating plan commitment on the part of the entrepreneurs. …

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