A good business plan starts with a good idea.
Always remember that problems spell opportunity. Successful entrepreneurs get excited when they encounter problems. They know that problems hold the key to unique products or services that people will pay lots of money to solve them.
Having a good idea is only a small fraction of what is needed to create a successful business.
Lots of people have good business ideas. Some are even brilliant. Sadly though, only a few become successful business owners.
What separates the mere day dreamers from the reality makers is that they are good planners.
One major factor that separates the wildly successful entrepreneurs from their commonplace peers is that they are good planners. Their success does not happen by happenstance. It results from their following a well-thought out business plan.
When you write your business plan, you are writing your success story.
Successful entrepreneurs go to great lengths to research and document how and why their business will be successful. They want to not only convince investors, but themselves, that they have a truly unique product or service that solves an important problem.
Your description of your product or service will shine a spotlight on how your company will provide a better solution to a significant problem compared to what is being offered by your competitors. This will then convince investors that your company will be able to ramp up your market share.
Your marketing plan will show that there are lots of customers willing to pay a price that will give you significant profits. It will also spell out your strategy for reaching your customers and selling them your product or service.
The description of your management team will convince investors, without a shadow of a doubt, that your company has a business team with the skills and experience to accomplish your business goals. It will highlight that you have people in your management team that have successfully launched a startup business in the past.
Your financial statements will do more than generate excitement about your business opportunity. They will also show that you truly understand your financial needs, that there will be adequate cash flow to accomplish your business milestones and that your company will realistically earn the increasing large profits you are predicting.
Your business plan’s financial projections need to show the enormous profit potential of your venture.
Most importantly, this section of your business plan must have a profit and loss statement that show your company will generate exciting profits within a 4-5 year time frame.
To be credible, you need to demonstrate, with your financial projections, that you understand your costs and your market for your product or service.
Your financial projections must show that your company will have adequate capital to cover your costs.
There are a number of methods for creating a business plan.
One option for creating a business plan is to use a generic template.
One good generic template is offered by the Small Business Association (SBA). Please note that you will need Adobe Reader to access this template.
Although generic templates will give you all of the necessary ingredients to a business plan, it has its’ drawbacks. The big one is that it is generic. It does not possess the tools that help you really juice up your business plan. It gets the job done, but will it have enough style to excite potential investors or personnel to come on board your project?
Another way to create a business plan is modify an already existing business plan for a business that is similar to yours.
Creating a business plan can also be accomplished by finding a business plan from the same category that is closest to your own business or industry. You can then modify it to fit your business.
Modifying an existing business plan has a number of negatives.
The whole idea of writing a business plan is to show how your company is unique. It needs to demonstrate that you have a truly unique product or service and your personnel are well qualified to run your business and be competitive in the marketplace. The problem with modifying an existing business plan is that there will be a strong tendency for your business to be not that much different from what’s out there already. The problem with this is that your competitors already have a head start on your business because they are already established.
Professional business planning software is the most ideal tool for creating a business plan.
Palo Alto Software currently holds the best overall rankings for business planning software. This company provides both a web version and an in-the-box version of their software.
The web version of Palo Alto Software’s business planning software is called LivePlan. It sells for $19.95 a month. With this version, you can access your business plan anywhere: At home, at the office, on the road. Regardless of where you are or what computer you’re using, LivePlan is there. When you want to work on your business plan, log in from any modern Internet browser – Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, and Chrome are fully supported.
Palo Alto Software’s LivePlan also facilitates collaboration by all the members of your business team. With this software, there is no more emailing files back and forth or losing one person’s changes because you accidentally saved over them. LivePlan makes business planning truly a team activity.
With LivePlan, you can simply download your plan as a PDF to print or share or export it to your favorite word processing program to give it some final polish. Your business plan will look like it was created by a professional business plan writer.
Another valuable feature of LivePlan’s collaborative capabilities is that you choose who sees what. If you’ve got several versions of your business plan or multiple partners and multiple different plans, it’s easy to manage permissions. You can allow specific collaborators to see and work on only the plans you want them to see. The plan owner decides who can access what on a plan-by-plan basis.
LivePlan also turns your business plan into a business management tool. The Scoreboard feature allows you to input your data manually or integrate with QuickBooks to automatically sync your financials and track your progress in comparison to your plan.
A desktop version of Palo Alto Software’s business planning software is also available. It is called Business Plan Pro-Premier. This version costs $159.95. It has many of the same features as the LivePlan software. However, it does not have the collaborative feature. In addition, it doesn’t allow you to access your business plan on any computer.
In summary, using professional business software is the best way to create a business plan.
Your business plan is one of your main selling tools for recruiting your management team, creating business alliances and raising capital. If you want to create a polished and professionally written business plan, professional business planning software is the best way to accomplish this goal.