Starting a business plan is a detailed process that is both revealing and educational. To get started find a good business plan example and decide what the purpose of your plan will be. For existing businesses it is an opportunity to re-evaluate profit margins and focus on successful areas of the business while cutting out the departments that are not profitable. For business plans in start up companies it is an opportunity to really focus on, and understand the industry and evaluate whether your shiny new opportunity will be successful before you make an investment of time and money.

Although up to 44% of new companies survive 4 years or more the success of any new start up is based on proper planning and projection, capital resources, and good business management.

Here are the top 5 tips for creating a killer business plan that will undoubtedly impress any lender:

1) Don’t Skip the Research

Creating a solid plan is the very first step in knowing your industry and understanding what it will take to be successful in your chosen field. Part of creating your plan should be to evaluate the competition, refine your business strategy and begin to understand if your value proposition meets a tangible need in the marketplace. Going through the steps of creating a business plan is an invaluable process that will help to ensure that your business will be able to survive the market trends. Don’t pay someone else to do this part for you or it may end up costing you more than you think.

2) Consider Your Audience

Business plans are created for many different reasons. Will it be for presenting to a board for project approval? Will it be to submit for funding? Is it simply to re-evaluate the business and profitability? Each of these areas will require adjustments to the plan format and style you choose to use throughout the document. Find a good business plan example to use as a starting point to help focus your project. If you are trying to get funding then you will need to have very detailed cost and ROI projections that are realistic and measurable. If you are presenting to a board or non-profit it is likely that you will need to include a focus on community impact or involvement and impact (either positive or negative) to the existing organization. Keep your audience in mind as you create your document to ensure you hit the right points and leave no questions unanswered.

3) Use Quality Reference Material

It is important to use a good mix of reference material in your plan. The internet is great for up to date news but is not nearly as reliable and printed publications. Be sure to use a good mix of reputable website research along with solid facts and industry statistics commonly found in printed books. Industry publications and magazines are a great way to get the latest news and trends in a reputable place. Include research from industry publications as well to enhance your plan and build credibility in your due diligence. Always be sure to cite your research or any quotes you may use. This will also build credibility while ensuring you are not infringing on any copyright protections of the content you use. To quickly and easily cite your sources there is an online tool that you can use to enter in your info and get back the properly formatted entry for a works cited page. It makes the process a breeze: http://www.easybib.com.

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