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«A Guide for Established Businesses Special thanks to Tri-County Community College Small Business Center, Murphy, NC Business Plan ...»

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A Guide for Established Businesses

Special thanks to Tri-County Community College Small Business Center, Murphy, NC


Business Plan for an Established Business


This business plan consists of a narrative and several financial spreadsheets. The

narrative template is the body of the business plan. It contains more than 150 questions

divided into several sections. Work through the sections in any order you like, except for

the Executive Summary, which should be done last. Skip any questions that do not apply to your business. When you are finished writing your first draft, you will have a collection of small essays on the various topics of the business plan. Then you will want to edit them into a flowing narrative.

The real value of doing a business plan is not having the finished product in hand;

rather, the value lies in the process of research and thinking about your business in a systematic way. The act of planning helps you to think things through thoroughly, to study and research when you are not sure of the facts, and to look at your ideas critically. It takes time, but avoids costly, perhaps disastrous, mistakes later.

The business plan narrative is a generic model suitable for all types of businesses.

However, you should modify it to suit your particular circumstances. Before you begin, review the section titled Refining the Plan, found at the end of the business plan. It suggests emphasizing certain areas, depending upon your type of business (manufacturing, retail, service, etc.). It also has tips for fine-tuning your plan to make an effective presentation to investors or bankers. If this is why you are writing your plan, pay particular attention to your writing style. You will be judged by the quality and appearance of your work as well as your ideas.

It typically takes several weeks to complete a good plan. Most of that time is spent in research and rethinking your ideas and assumptions. But then, that is the value of the process. So make time to do the job properly. Those who do make the time for proper planning never regret the effort. And finally, be sure to keep detailed notes on your sources of information and on the assumptions underlying your financial data.

NCCCS ‐ SBCN  Page 2    Business Plan


Business name: Your Business Name Address: Address Line 1 Address Line 2 City, ST ZIP Code Telephone: (555) 555-0100 Fax: (555) 555-0101 E-mail: someone@example.com NCCCS ‐ SBCN  Page 3    Table of Contents Executive Summary……….……………………………………………………………..Page 5 General Company Description……………………………………………………….…Page 7 Products and Services ……………………………………………………………….…Page 8 Marketing Plan……………………………………………………………………………Page 9 Operational Plan

Management and Organization……………………………………………………….Page 21 Personal Financial Statement…………………………………………………………Page 22 Financial History and Analysis………………………………………………………...Page 23 Financial Statement…………………………………………………………………….Page 24 Appendices………………………………………………………………………………Page 26 Refining the Plan…………………………………………………………………..……Page 27

–  –  –

Write this section last! We suggest that you make it two pages or less. Include everything that you would cover in a five-minute interview.

Explain the fundamentals of the business: What is your product, who are your customers, who are the owners, and what do you think the future holds for your business and your industry?

Make it enthusiastic, professional, complete, and concise.

If you are applying for a loan, state clearly how much you want, precisely how you are going to use it, and how the money will make your business more profitable, thereby ensuring repayment.

The Executive Summary explains the purpose of this proposal. It should include a very brief summary of the business as an introduction. Then it should include the basic points of the financing proposal. This section is frequently written last and can be modified for different presentations. The Statement is sometimes called an Executive

Summary and should include:

1. What is the business? What are its objectives?

2. How is the business structured or organized (single proprietor, partnership, corporation, limited liability company)?

3. Who are the principals involved in the business?

4. Why will the venture be successful?

5. What is the total amount of funding needed to implement the plans?

6. How will the funds benefit the business?

7. How much of the funds are being requested from this funding source? At what terms (interest, payment rate, time)? What is the ‘deal’ offered?

8. What other sources of funding are being considered?

9. How will the funds be repaid?

10. Why does the loan or investment make sense?

–  –  –

Mission statement: Many companies have a brief mission statement, usually 30 words or fewer, explaining their reason for being and their guiding principles. If you have a mission statement, this is a good place to put it in the plan, followed by company goals and objectives and business philosophy.

What business are you in? What do you do?

What is your target market? (Explain briefly here, because you will do a more thorough explanation in the Marketing Plan section.) Describe your industry. Is it a growth industry? What changes do you foresee in your industry, and how is your company poised to take advantage of them?

Now give a detailed description of the business:

Form of ownership: Sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, or limited liability company (LLC)?

Company history: Years in business, previous owners, successes, failures, lessons learned, reputation in community, sales and profit history, number of employees, and events that affected success. Discuss significant past problems and how you solved and survived them.

Most important strengths and core competencies: What factors will make the company succeed? What are your major competitive strengths? What strengths do you personally bring to the business?

Significant challenges the company faces now and in the near future: If you are asking for funding, go on to explain how the new capital will help you meet these challenges.

Long term: What are your plans for the future of the business? Growth? If so, at what rate and how will you achieve it?

Are you developing strategies for continued growth, increased production, diversification, or eventual sale of the business? What are your time frames for these?

–  –  –

Describe in depth your products and services. (Technical specifications, drawings, photos, sales brochures, and other bulky items belong in the Appendices.) What factors give you competitive advantages or disadvantages? For example: the level of quality, or unique or proprietary features.

What is the pricing, fee, or leasing structure of your products and services?

–  –  –

Notes on Preparation:

Market research: Why?

You spend so much time on marketing-related matters — customers, competitors, pricing, promotion, and advertising — that it is natural to assume that you have little to learn. However, every small business can benefit from doing market research to make sure it is on track. Use the business planning process as your opportunity to uncover data and to question your marketing efforts. It will be time well spent.

Market research: How?

There are two kinds of market research: primary and secondary.

Secondary research means using published information such as industry profiles, trade journals, newspapers, magazines, census data, and demographic profiles. This type of information is available from public libraries, industry associations, chambers of commerce, vendors who sell to your industry, and government agencies.

Start with your local library. Most librarians are pleased to guide you through their business data collection. You will be amazed at what is there. There are more online sources than you could possibly use. Your chamber of commerce has good information on the local area. Trade associations and trade publications often have excellent industry-specific data.

Primary market research means gathering your own data. For example, you could do your own traffic count at a proposed location, use the yellow pages to identify competitors, and do surveys or focus group interviews to learn about consumer preferences. Professional market research can be very costly, but there are many books that show small business owners how to do effective research.

In your marketing plan, be as specific as possible; give statistics, numbers, and sources. The marketing plan will be the basis, later on, of the all-important sales projection.

The Marketing Plan:


• Facts about your industry

–  –  –


• Percentage share of the market you have. (This is important only if you are a major factor in the market.)

• Current demand in target market

–  –  –

• Trends in target market — growth trends, trends in consumer preferences, and trends in product development

• Growth potential and opportunity for a business of your size

• What barriers to entry keep potential new competitors from flooding into your market?

–  –  –

Products In the Products and Services section, you described your products and services as you see them. Now describe them from your customers’ point of view.

–  –  –

  Features and Benefits List all your major products or services.

For each product or service, describe the most important features. That is, what does the product do? What is special about it?

Now, for each product or service, describe its benefits. That is, what does the product do for the customer?

Note the differences between features and benefits, and think about them. For example, a house gives shelter and lasts a long time; those are its features. Its benefits include pride of ownership, financial security, providing for the family, and inclusion in a neighborhood. You build features into your product so you can sell the benefits.

What after-sale services are supplied? For example: delivery, warranty, service contracts, support, follow-up, or refund policy.

Customers Identify your customers, their characteristics, and their geographic locations; that is, demographics.

The description will be completely different depending on whether you sell to other businesses or directly to consumers. If you sell a consumer product, but sell it through a channel of distributors, wholesalers, and retailers, you must carefully analyze both the end user and the intermediary businesses to which you sell.

You may have more than one customer group. Identify the most important groups.

Then, for each consumer group, construct a demographic profile:

–  –  –

Competition What products and companies compete with you? List your major competitors, including their names and addresses.

Do they compete with you across the board, just for certain products, certain customers, or in certain locations?

Use the following table to compare your company with your three most important competitors.

In the first column are key competitive factors. Because these vary with each market, you may want to customize the list of factors.

In the cell labeled "Me," state honestly how you think you stack up in customers' minds.

Then decide whether you think this factor is a strength or a weakness for you. If you find it hard to analyze yourself this way, enlist some disinterested party to assess you. This can be a real eye-opener.

Now analyze each major competitor. In a few words, state how you think they stack up.

In the last column, estimate how important each competitive factor is to the customer. 1 = critical; 5 = not very important.


–  –  –

Products Price Quality Selection Service Reliability Stability Expertise Company reputation Location Appearance Sales method Credit policies Advertising Image After you finish the competitive matrix, write a short paragraph stating your competitive advantages and disadvantages.

–  –  –

Now that you have systematically analyzed your industry, your product, your customers, and the competition, you should have a clear picture of where your company fits into the world.

In one short paragraph, define your niche, your unique corner of the market.

Marketing Strategy Now outline a marketing strategy that is consistent with your niche.

Promotion: How do you get the word out to customers?

Advertising: What media do you use, why, and how often? Has your advertising been effective? How can you tell?

Do you use other methods, such as trade shows, catalogs, dealer incentives, word of mouth, and network of friends or professionals?

If you have identifiable repeat customers, do you have a systematic contact plan?

Why this mix and not some other?

Promotional Budget How much will you spend on the items listed above?

Should you consider spending less on some promotional activities and more on others?

Pricing What is your pricing strategy? For most small businesses, having the lowest prices is not a good strategy. Usually you will do better to have average prices and compete on quality and service. Does your pricing strategy fit with what was revealed in your competitive analysis?

Compare your prices with those of your competition. Are they higher, lower, the same?


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