Ok... here is what I have learned about business plans...hope it helps you. I did find comprehensive free forms and guidelines and linked them below.
A business plan is documented information about your business. This includes your services, products, market, competition, your business location, clients, demographics and goals.
This documented strategic information helps in making informed decisions to better reach your goals and increase your bottom line. (Increase my bottom line...my ears perked)
A completed business plan outlines your business goals and objectives. If updated and followed, it also helps to continue defining and reaching future goals.
Business plans can be used as a powerful tool to help you communicate your ideas in a professional manner. This will be necessary for generating interest with potential investors, raising capital, loans and financing, communicating goals and plans to employees and upper management, working with a mentor or requesting assistance for current or future business decisions.
It is my understanding however that the biggest reason for having a plan is it keeps you as an individual focused and allows you to clearly see what your strengths and weaknesses are which leads to better decision making on your part. (unlike fly from the hip approach and hope for the best I guess...)
There are many forms of business plans, some very simple and others bordering complexity. All must show evidence of focus on your strongest business skills pertaining to your industry, products and services. You will need to determine and document who your potential clients are in order to target the demographics within your marketing efforts to better reach them. This will involve documented research and thorough investigation.
For current or possible future investors or lenders, you will need to research and document their needs as much as your own. (What is in it for them type thing)
So, if you have yet to create a business plan for your company, take some time to document and explore where your strengths of your company lie and where you have room for improvement as well as laying out some well defined goals you can reach...(hey if it will help with that bottom line thing..I'll give it a try)
In my travels regarding business plans, I found some great free guidelines, forms advice and information. Below are the links to some of the sites that helped me.
Our Sponsor: http://www.findmagic.com Free sales evaluation tests and services to help you increase your bottom line (there's that bottom line thing again...a favorite of mine)
Please visit NOVA PLAZA The Small Business Community and "Suite Address on the Internet." Affordable website design, hosting and internet marketing services for small and home-based businesses.
Office of Women's Business Ownership (don't worry men...they won't mind a visit) Offers a Strategic planning outline for creating business plans.
My own Business Site (just the name of it, it's not really mine) schedules free training sessions around the country for business plan development.
The Small Business Admistration in cooperation with MET Life Insurance put together a great business plan pamphlet which you can order for free.
The Complete Book of Business Plans: Simple Steps to Writing a Powerful Business Plan
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