Editor's Note: This article is provided and sponsored by TD Bank.
Planning is very important if a business is to survive. By taking an objective look at your business you can identify areas of weakness and strength. You will realize needs that may have been overlooked, spot problems and nip them before they escalate, and establish plans to meet your business goals.
The business plan is only useful if you use it. Ninety percent of new businesses fail in the first two years. Failure is often attributed to a lack of planning. To enhance your success, use your plan! A comprehensive, well constructed business plan can prevent a business from a downward spiral.
Finally, your business plan provides the information needed to communicate with others. This is especially true if you are seeking financing. A thorough business plan will have the information to serve as a financial proposal and should be accepted by most lenders.
You, the owner of the business, should write the plan. It doesn't matter if you are using the business plan to seek financial resources or to evaluate future growth, define a mission, or provide guidance for running your business - you are the one that knows the most about the business.
There are a number of software packages in addition to this article that can assist you in the formatting process: Business Plan Pro, Palo Alto Software, $89.99 and Small Business Advantage, Encore Software, $39.99 are only two of many available.
Consultants can be hired to assist you in the process of formulating a business plan, but in reality you must do a majority of the work. Only you can come up with the financial data, the purpose of your business, the key employees, and management styles to mention a few items. You may still choose to use a consultant, but realize that you will still need to do most of the work, so why not tackle the plan yourself?
For more advice on how to do it, click here.
To see a flash presentation on how to do it, click here.
For more online workshops that can help with nearly everything needed to start small business, including how to market and manage it, click here. The workshops present real-world business strategies from successful entrepreneurs as well as case studies and forms designed to help you develop your own strategies.