Writing a business plan is one of the most vital skills a successful entrepreneur can acquire. You know you have an idea that can make money; the business plan requires you to spell out exactly how you intend to turn your idea into a profitable reality. If you’re starting or expanding a business, the strength of your business plan will help determine whether you’ll be able to get the financing you need. A well-written business plan is detailed, conservative in its financials and straightforward.

A good plan provides detailed numbers and estimates of the business’ cash flow, revenue and profit. Those pro forma estimates are also conservative—it’s fine if you have an audacious idea, but the audacity should stop where the accounting assumptions come in. And a good plan is straightforward—it tells the reader (usually your banker) what you’re planning to do, how you’re planning to do it and most important, how you’re going to make money doing it.

Most important of all, writing a good business plan is not a one-person job. You want to make sure you’re including the best strategic thinking and strategic planning, including your small business marketing plan. Whatever you do, don’t do it alone—the best idea is to find a veteran business plan consultant who can walk you through the process! Mr. Mission Possible, Ron Sturgeon, covers writing a business plan in his speaking engagements, in his consulting assignments and in his peer benchmarking groups. Ron knows how business plans work because he’s written his share!

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