Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Business Plan Basics

Your business plan is one of the most important documents you'll ever draft. Make sure you've answered these key questions. If you haven't, take steps to answer them now.

1. Who are we, and what do we do? Who is on our team? What do they do?

2. What is our business model? In other words, how do we make money? What problem do we solve? How do we know that our solution works?

3. Who else is offering this solution right now, and are we doing it better? Who might offer it in the future? (The ability to anticipate competition is a critical business planning skill.)

4. Who are our customers? How do they pay us? How do they make their buying decisions? How do we get potential customers to try us and come back? What is the cost of attracting new business? What about existing customers--what keeps them happy, and how much does it cost?

5. How far along is our business? In what stage of growth are we?

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.