Plan of action essential to build going concern

Tips For Small Business

May 11, 2008|By STEPHEN L. ROSENSTEIN

A business plan is an indispensable management and operating tool for using your time, capital and energy most effectively. The plan of action for building a successful small business examines the environment where you expect your business to operate, including potential problems, cyclical trends and growth opportunities.

If you plan to seek financing, it is certain that a lender will require a business plan as part of the loan application. Putting your objectives in writing as you build a business plan also forces you to think realistically about sales, expenses and short- and long-term goals. The more specific and measurable your goals, the better.

A complete business plan should identify target customers and how you plan to attract them; timelines for adding staff and infrastructure; and ways to distinguish your products and services from those of competitors. Ideally, it will show anyone that you have done your industry research, as well.

Every business plan starts with a cover page containing your contact information and a warning that the document contains private information. The sections that follow should include:

*Table of contents.

*Executive summary.

*Description of the company and its strategy.

*Overview of the market.

*Specifics of the product or service.

*Plan for sales and promotion.

*Financial issues and projections.

*Appendix.

A free workbook, How to Really Start Your Own Business, is available from the Greater Baltimore SCORE Chapter No. 3, "Counselors to America's Small Business."

Stephen L. Rosenstein is co-chairman of the Greater Baltimore SCORE Chapter No. 3. Call 410-962-2233 to speak to a SCORE counselor or visit www.scorebaltimore.org. To send a question to SCORE, e-mail smallbiz@baltsun.com.

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