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Creating a Winning Startup Business Plan

Creating a Winning Startup Business Plan A Professional Presentation A Winning First Impression

For a startup business, creating a business plan is like creating a game plan in sports. You need to scout out all the information to create a inning strateg! for the game. While business plans for e"isting companies ma! ha#e a special focus, such as setting o#erall goals, re#ie ing specific operations, e#aluating ne products, assessing ne technolog! in the industr!, or some other specific purpose, the business plan for a startup compan! is the blueprint for its formation, its operation, and its success. A business plan e"poses a ne compan!$s strengths and eaknesses. It re#eals a!s to capitali%e on the strengths and minimi%e the eaknesses, unco#ers e#er! facet of the business that can be de#eloped, and points to the best method for that de#elopment. It pro#ides a structure for the compan!$s pursuit of the inner$s troph!. &#en though creating a business plan takes time, thought and effort, and ma! seem like an impediment to getting on ith opening or gro ing !our ne business, it is imperati#e in toda!$s competiti#e business climate for !ou to ha#e all relati#e information a#ailable and e#aluated before opening !our doors. With a thoughtfull! prepared business plan !ou ill enter the business orld prepared, read! to run !our business and read! to compete. Although researching and riting !our business plan ma! seem like a monumental task, ith preparation it can be 'uite painless. As !ou go through the process, !ou ill de#elop !our kno ledge and understanding of !our business, impro#e !our chances of success, and diminish !our risks of failure as a startup o ner. Prior to riting !our business plan, there are se#eral issues !ou must resol#e. It is be!ond the scope of this te"t to co#er all of these in depth( ho e#er, a basic checklist ith a fe recommended reference books is pro#ided, so !ou can e"plore some of the sub)ects more thoroughl!. As an entrepreneur of a startup compan!*

Are !ou prepared to operate a business+ ,a#e !ou alread! decided upon !our product-s. or ser#ice-s.+ ,a#e !ou in#estigated other t!pes of businesses+ ,a#e !ou e"plored the broad economic business sectors* manufacturing, holesale, retail, ser#ice ...+ ,a#e !ou considered other industries ithin the sector of !our choice+ ,a#e !ou thought about hat t!pes of businesses are strongest no and for the future+ ,a#e !ou checked out franchises+ /o check out the possibilities and benefits of becoming a franchise outlet o ner or franchisor, read &r in 0eup$s Franchise Bible and m! books, No Money Down: Financing for Franchising and The Franchise Redbook. 1o !ou ha#e a location in mind+ ,a#e !ou researched the principles of site selection* ph!sical site needs -address, neighborhood, interior lot, corner lot., cost effecti#eness, interior space, e"terior space, #isibilit!, traffic #olume - hich side of the street and times of the da!., and accessibilit!+ Are !ou familiar ith the ad#antages and disad#antages of t!pes of sites, such as freestanding buildings, storefronts, regional malls, and man! others+ Are !ou familiar ith the principles of lease negotiation+ See 2uigi Sal#aneschi$s Location, Location, Location. ,a#e !ou located the necessar! business consultants33accountant, attorne!, banker, and others+ 4ne resource is The Small B siness !nsider"s # ide to Bankers b! Su%anne Caplan and /homas 5. 6unnall!.

1o !ou kno !our financial position, !our credit rating, !our in#estment costs+ /he author$s No Money Down: Financing for Franchising co#ers these topics in detail for an! business, not onl! franchising. Before going for ard, it is assumed !ou ha#e done the basic home ork for each of the elements abo#e and that* You are read! to go into business You ha#e !our basic business concept You ha#e decided on !our basic product-s. or ser#ice-s. You ha#e !our location and facilit! You ha#e a business accountant and attorne! You understand !our financial position and !our in#estment costs ill be reconsidering and

While !ou ma! ha#e alread! e"plored the follo ing business concepts during !our startup stage, !ou ree#aluating these as !ou de#elop !our business plan*

7esting Business ob)ecti#es 5ission statement 0e!s to success Industr! anal!sis 5arket anal!sis Competitor anal!sis Strategies

5arketing plan 5anagement 4rgani%ational structure 4perations Financial pro formas Break3e#en anal!sis Financial re'uirement

1on$t be concerned if !ou aren$t familiar ith all of these concepts. Writing a business plan for !our ne business is a straightfor ard process that !ou can mo#e through step b! step to completion. /he hole process can be accomplished in t o to four eeks, depending on !our business. In sur#e!ing man! successful business plans, !ou ill find that no one format fits them all. 1epending upon the nature of the business, certain topics take precedence o#er others. 4ften the o ners rite their business plans, since the! kno the most about their business operation and management and the! ha#e learned hat elements to include to make the best impression. A complete business plan for a startup compan! is best organi%ed according to the logical de#elopment of the business and is comprised of at least 89 basic components. 1. Executive Summary: B! definition, to summari%e the elements of !our business 2. Company Description: For identification, to introduce !our readers to
!our compan!

and !our business concept ithin the larger frame ork

3. In ustry analysis: /o pro#ide a picture of !our industr! and of the position of !our business

!. "ar#et an Competition: /o e#aluate hat !ou are getting into. While some business plan proponents separate market and competition, it takes an e"amination of both, together, to come to one #er! important final conclusion* !our market share. Conse'uentl!, it is best to e"amine and present them together. $. Strategies an %oals: /o anal!%e the market and !our competition in order to determine ho or ser#ices fit and to ma"imi%e !our position ith !our target market &. Pro ucts or Services: /o describe !our products or ser#ices and ho '. "ar#eting an Sales: /o market !our products or ser#ices of categories four, fi#e, and si", in that order and here !our compan! or products

the! match !our findings of !our strategies and goals

ith the best positioning and to forecast !our sales based on the findings

(. "anagement an )rgani*ation: /o present the management and personnel t o sections for more comple" companies. +. )perations: /o e"plain ho the business is run


ill run the sho . /his section can be separated into

1,. -inancial Pro -ormas: /o forecast successful financial performance for all acti#ities 11. -inancial .e/uirement: /o present the t!pe and amount of financing needed, based on the pre#ious sections, to accomplish the hole plan 12. Ex0i1its: B! definition, to close the plan and separate an! supporting materials that ould other ise interrupt the flo of the stor!

A professionall! ritten startup business plan has all 89 of these basic sections presented in the order of the outline. 5ost of the segments listed ill also be reflected in the same order of presentation, although there ma! be slight #ariances depending on !our t!pe of business. When !our business plan is ritten to obtain financing, the financial re'uirement section ma! be tailored either as a loan re'uest or as an in#estment offering proposal, and then titled accordingl!. /he sa!ing, :/here$s no second chance to make a good first impression,: is highl! appropriate hen it comes to the opening sections of !our business plan and its o#erall appearance. With current desktop publishing, business plans are looking more professional33prospects are competing for neatness and an impressi#e presentation that sets them apart.

-ormat. As to format, the norm is to bind !our business plan in booklet form ith high3'ualit! materials. Better ones ha#e 'ualit! report co#ers in dark or rich colors and are labeled on the front. /he title page ser#es better than a label if laminated or positioned behind a indo ed co#er or behind a full clear co#er. 5ost t!pes of binding are a#ailable at cop! centers* Ibico and ;BC presentation bindings, Wire Bind, and 7elobinder are a fe of the better ones. Some businesses go the e"tra step to ha#e printed co#ers or printed binding strips. /hree3ring binders ha#e been used for !ears and are still acceptable, but !ou impro#e !our odds for making that fa#orable first impression b! using the latest and most professional3 looking, high3tech materials a#ailable.

Page layout. 5ake sure the la!out of each page is balanced and artisticall! pleasing, ith a lot of open or negati#e space33 paragraphs, lines, and characters should not be too closel! spaced. With desktop publishing, man! t!pes of fonts are a#ailable. /he te"t is generall! easier to read if !ou use a font ith serifs, such as 6e /imes <oman, Charter or ;aramond, and the margins are )ustified. For a professional 'ualit!, use a sans3serif font, such as Arial, 5odern or 7erdana, for titles, sideheads, tables and outlines. Choose one of each and sta! consistent throughout the presentation.

=sing the latest soft are printing design tools, such as bo"es, borders, shado lines, and enlarged and bold characters, can add a professional look if correctl! done ithout dra ing attention to their use and stealing the sho from the material itself. Color printing, )udiciousl! placed, is being used more all the time.

2a1s an titles. &ach sub)ect, ith titled heading, should ha#e its o n section and be separated ith inde"ed partitions ke!ed to the table of contents. /abbed inde" partitions make it easier to locate information, especiall! during a personal presentation. Another feature is to use colored partitions, preferabl! muted or soft colors that coordinate ith the color of the co#er and ith the colors of an! charts or graphs inside. Instead of custom tabs, some plans are assembled ith printed tab indices ith miniature plastic co#ers, but if !ou ha#e access to preprinted laminated tabs, the! are preferable. A#er! has Inde" 5aker di#iders for ink3)et and laser printers that !ou can customi%e ith basic desktop soft are. A recent inno#ation is hidden tabs that protrude past the pages but not the co#er.

Within each section, set off subsections or segments ith crossheads usuall! set bold in a sans3serif font. When these are )ustified to the right or left margin, the! are referred to as sideheads.

Color an c0arts. Charts, graphs, and illustrations are commonl! acceptable if appropriate to the te"t. Color is often better than black and hite( ho e#er, choose reds and blues, not chartreuses, !ello 3oranges, or some other unusual color. In fact, if !ou are going to use e"tensi#e colored charts and graphs, choose a theme of three or four rich colors and use them consistentl! throughout the ork. <eser#e photographic prints for the e"hibits. &#en then, the! should be presented in protecti#e sheets or con#erted to color copies and labeled or captioned in font st!les consistent ith the rest of the business plan. If needed in the main bod! of the business plan, pictures look more professional hen scanned and merged into the la!out.

Printing. =se laser or ink3)et printers to print on paper of stationer! 'ualit!. Paper should be the brightest hite !ou can find, laser 'ualit!, or one of the muted color r>sum> stocks in soft gra! or i#or!. Sta!ing consistent b! using the same t!pe of paper for te"t, graphs, charts, and illustrations !ields a 'ualit! professional look. =sing bits and pieces of different paper gi#es the impression the plan as thro n together.

Proo3rea ing an copye iting. ,a#e !our figures checked b! an accountant and the te"t proofread b! an editor or proofreader. An accurate, eas!3to3read, and ell3organi%ed te"t ill con#e! professionalism and credibilit!. /oo often this important step is a#oided or forgotten* despite all the ork that has gone into creating an impressi#e presentation, t!pos, missing ords, poor sentence construction, and figures that don$t add up become a significant part of that first impression made on a re#ie er.

Important Points to .emem1er

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An accurate, eas!3to3read, and

ell3organi%ed business plan con#e!s professionalism and credibilit!.

You impro#e !our odds for making a fa#orable first impression b! using the latest and most professional3looking, high3tech materials a#ailable. 1on$t necessaril! tr! to balance the material from section to section. Place !our emphasis in the proper perspecti#e and accent the features that are most important for !our business. Al a!s include a co#er letter about !our #enture. ith !our business plan, because it ma! get passed on to other staff members ho on$t kno