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Avoiding strategic errors in your small business plan

When it comes to business plans many of us think that is something that just the larger companies should do. But the truth of the matter is that even if you are only running a small business you are going to need to have some type of business plan so that you can obtain financing and so that you can hopefully succeed with your business. Many people are scared of creating a business plan because they are worried that they are going to make strategic errors or any kind of error and that will ruin any chance they had of obtaining financing or of having a successful business. But the good news is that there is something that you can do to avoid any strategic errors in your small business plan and that is to make sure you include everything that should be included in your business plan.

Here is a brief overview of what you need to include in your small business plan.

Cover page:
While this part can seem rather obvious many people tend to forget to include the cover page and without a cover page many lenders won't even take the time to look at your business plan. The cover page should include information such as the name of your company, the address, phone number, and the owner's name or chief executives name. If you plan on handing out your business plan to numerous investors or bankers be sure to number each plan prominently on the cover page to help you keep track of who has the plans and what there answers were.

Table of contents:
Just like with a book this should provide the reader with information about what is included in the business plan and what order the information is provided in. You should also include page numbers of where the investor or banker can find the information, but make sure that you remember to number your pages in the business plan, otherwise the page numbers will not be very helpful.

Executive summary:
This is the bread and butter of the business plan. This is where you are going to want to include things such as what your company plans on doing, what kind of financing you are looking for and how much, how the financing will be spent, and what your company's vision statement is, where you want to go and how you plan to get there.

The company:
This section needs to include information about the company's past, present and future. Now if your small or home business is just starting you are not going to be able to include information about your company's past so instead you will need to include information about the evolution of the market and your products concept. You should also include information about what your businesses goals are and how you plan to achieve those goals.

The market:
This is where you are going to provide information on what customer groups you have targeted, what other customer groups you are considering pursuing, how you have marketed your product, any market testing that you have done, and any information that you have obtained about your competitors and how you are going to compete with them.

The product or service:
This is where you are going to list information about the product or service that you are offering. You are going to want to include what it is, how it is special, what the components are, how much you are going to charge, what kind of warranty you offer, and any other information that is important to the product or service that you are offering.

Sales and promotion:
This is actually rather self explained, in this section you are going to include any and all information related to how you plan on selling and promoting your product, whether you are going to have a website or use a store, and how you are going to reach your customers. You should also include information about the kind of public relations that you will be using to promote your product or service, such as telemarketers, direct mailings, and if you will be doing it yourself or hiring a public relations firm.

This is where you are going to detail information about your company's profits and losses, how you plan to make money and what you plan on doing with the money that your company is making. This section should include cash flow projections, profit and loss statements, balance sheets, income statements, and any other kind of financial statements that your company will prepare. All of the statements should be prepared using traditional accounting formats, whether it is cash accounting or accrual based accounting.

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