Compose A Winning Business Plan

Put it on paper so you can put it into action.

Last month in this column, we showed you how to plan a budget for your new venture. With the preliminary business decisions made and your budget information firmly in hand, your next move is to assemble all of your thoughts and numbers into a formal, written business plan.

A solid business plan is your road map for success. It charts where you're planning to go with your business and how you expect to get there. Sure, there may be an occasional detour along the way, but by focusing on every aspect of a venture's operations before getting started, you'll be better prepared to avoid making costly mistakes.

Many new business owners view business-plan writing as a task designed to attract investors, but more importantly, it provides a guidebook for your business so you know what you should be doing, and how well you're doing it, along the way. Experts agree that bypassing the business-plan stage is a recipe for disaster.

As our Starting Smart entrepreneurs have learned, composing a business plan requires significant amounts of time, patience, research, writing, editing and re-editing. But the benefits far outweigh the short-lived pressure and pain. Having risen to the challenge, they are back this month to share their insights about preparing a winning plan.

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This article was originally published in the October 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Compose A Winning Business Plan.

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