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Make business plans less daunting

Many people thinking about owning a business or starting a business of their own say getting a business plan written is their most daunting task.

But according to Chrystal Irons, a business development specialist with University of Missouri Extension, a business plan doesn't have to be long; it should be simple and direct.

"A business plan needs to encompass the vital sections to effectively tell your business idea and story in a convincing fashion," said Irons.

One way to do that is to add an appendix, show publication clips, pictures, graphs, drawings, principals' resumes, letters of intent from prospective customers, job descriptions, tax returns, contracts, licenses, leases, client testimonies, personal financial statements, credit reports, letters of reference and other such documents that lend credibility to your product or service.

The organization of a business plan is also important according to Irons.

"You will need a cover sheet and a one-page executive summary that captures the reader's attention and serves as a summary for the plan," said Irons.

According to Irons, accuracy is critical and there are several other sections that every good business plan needs.

First, a basic description of the business, including an explanation of the business concept, a history of the business, if any, a list of growth possibilities and an explanation of why it will be a success.

The marketing plan is another key element of the plan. "The marketing plan should include potential customers and how you plan to attract and hold them, features and benefits of your product/service, pricing strategy, your sales promotion plan and potential, distribution methods, purchasing plan, and don't forget to address competition," said Irons.

Other important elements include information describing how the business will be managed, the organizational roles, and personnel needs. The plan must include financial information such as needs, revenue and cost projections as well as a break-even analysis.

"The sections will vary depending upon the readership and type of business. Use those that are relevant to your business and your readers," said Irons.

Date: 9-24-2012


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