A good business plan is a roadmap for success

After the “bright idea” the first step to a successful business is a business plan.

A business plan should be a component of any business, but is especially critical for entrepreneurs starting new businesses. It is the roadmap for the business and helps to explain your business in common language. It can also be used as a measuring stick for performance of the business.

A business plan should be in writing. Often, creative entrepreneurs will think they can keep it all in their head. Writing it down encourages rational and critical thinking and makes it easy to share your plan with others. There are many places for entrepreneurs to seek help in writing a business plan, but it should be written by the entrepreneur. Hiring a person to write a business plan for you or “borrowing” one from the Internet is not advisable.

A business plan forces you to take a good look at all aspects of the business. It is a good tool for better and more effective management. It helps to identify opportunities and challenges and focuses attention on important questions.

Your business plan can be used as a feasibility study, a means of identifying priorities and also as a financing proposal.

The business plan should be written before anyone is hired or the first product is made or service rendered. If you think you are too busy trying to launch your business and don’t have time to do the plan the time crunch will only get worse once you launch your business.

A business plan usually starts out with an executive summary. While this is the first component in most business plan formats you should write the executive summary last after you have completed the rest of the business plan. It is a summary, not an introduction. Other components to the plan include a mission statement, goals and objectives, history, industry background, business structure, management, marketing and financial plans.

It sounds like it is a big job and it is! Creating a business plan may take a significant amount of your time but it is well worth it. A well written plan will be a useful tool in creating a roadmap for your business and help you go from a bright idea to a successful enterprise.

The MSU Product Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources provides individual counseling to assist entrepreneurs in developing a business plan. If you are starting a business or developing a product in the area of food, agriculture, natural resources or the bioeconomy the Product Center may be able to assist you. For more information visit the Product Center website.

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