Business plan basics: key elements crucial to success.

Author:Stomierowski, Peg

A well formulated business plan will help you communicate your business ideas to advisors and financers. Go through the process of developing a business plan and you'll be better prepared for helping your company succeed. A well-crafted business plan--one you can take to the bank--should, at a minimum, include the following elements.

* Executive Summary

Highlight the main points, including the type of business, history, products, services, and company goals.

* Mission Statement Present a succinct, straightforward statement of your business purpose and intention. You can attach a values or a vision statement if you wish, addressing what you intend the business to express or be known for.

* Products & Services

Identify and list the benefits the products and services your business will sell.

* Operations Describe how you will run day-to-day operations and list the inventory, raw materials and supplies the business uses.

* Business Information

Address the legal structure of the business (i.e., sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation). Include information about business licenses, zoning requirements, insurance requirements, building codes, health codes and other relevant laws and regulations. Be sure to seek tax and legal advice from professionals.

* Location

State the location of your business and tell what makes this a desirable location.

* Competitive Analysis

Identify major competitors and compare your products and services in terms of quality, price, selection and customer service. Address why consumers would choose your business over that of the competition.

* Marketing Plan

Identify your customers and how you will promote and sell your products and services. Include information about your pricing strategy.

* Personal Financial Statement

Include a list of all your assets and liabilities and calculate your net worth.

* Budget

Include labor expenses of wages, payroll taxes and benefits, including...

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