What type of business plan do I need for an already well-established business I

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By Tim Berry

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I am looking into purchasing a business that has been around for about 50 years, has a solid customer base and a very good reputation in the area.

You need what I've taken to calling the not so big business plan, meaning not a formal document with all the trimmings, but a plan that you can follow up and track and turn into a management tool.

The key to this is it's about planning, not just a plan. Planning means you develop the essential plan and at the same time the process you'll use to follow up with regular reviews, tracking progress, changing assumptions as needed.

So what's in your plan?

Good solid thinking about strategy as focus on key points, understanding your business identify, differentiators, price positioning, why your customers want your business offering.

Breaking the strategy into specific steps with concrete details you can use to track progress and implementation. That includes tasks, dates, deadlines, budgets, and responsibilities. Make it specific so you can look back on it. You want planning and management, not just a plan.

Good estimated guesses for future financial projections. You need to project profits, balance, and, most important, cash flow.

Format isn't important. Don't worry about printing or completeness as long as you don't have a business reason to share it with anybody else. Leave it on the computer, back it up often, keep back-up copies, and when you need to share it with partners, spouse, or employees, you can export the relevant portions. This plan is for you, not for some external judge or jury.

Planning, Startups, Stories

Tim Berry

Entrepreneur, Business Planner and Angel Investor

Tim Berry is the chairman of Eugene, Ore.-Palo Alto Software, which produces business-planning software. He founded Bplans.com and wrote The Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan, published by Entrepreneur Press. Berry is also a co-founder of HavePresence.com, a leader in a local angel-investment group and a judge of international business-plan competitions.

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