The Anatomy of a Winning Business Plan

A well-organized, detailed business plan is a must if you're serious about making it in business. Not only does it provide potential lenders and investors with information they'll need to make a sound, financial investment, but it will also provide you with a concise outline of what's needed to turn your dream into a profitable reality. Here are the six elements of a winning plan:

1. The executive summary

This is not simply an introduction to the plan-it is a capsule version of the entire plan. And, it is a sales pitch-you want to convince the reader of the merit of your idea and your ability to carry out the plan. Outline your strengths and experience, as well as your technical ability and management skills: be confident without being pompous. Be sure to touch on the following:

2. Business description

Write a terse, but fully descriptive abstract for the type of business you're planning to enter. Include name, location, physical facilities, and

3. Marketing analysis

Demonstrate demand for your product or service by discussing industry trends. Establish market parameters in which you profile the typical consumer. Show that you know what the competition is doing and have a strategy to deal with it. Also, be sure to include:

4. Financing

This is probably the most critical and most difficult part of the plan to write. You need to convey what financial resources are necessary for the business to succeed. Potential investors will be looking for:

5. Management

State if the business will be a sole proprietorship with yourself as the only employee. If your business will be staffed, provide:

6. Attachments

These might include:

General tips

Your plan should be concise, straightforward, and reader-friendly. It should appear as professional as possible: typed, bound, without a typo or grammatical error in sight. Personalize the plan to the reader; each investor should be made to feel he or she is the only one being approached.

Finally, design the plan from both your perspective as well as that of the investors (investors want to know not only how you intend to grow your business, but how they'll be rewarded financially).

Here's an example of a business plan, so you can see this "anatomy" fleshed out.
Simulated Biz Plan

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