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Business Plan Overview

Starting your own business can be exciting and liberating, but also stressful. While owning a business means you don't have to answer to a boss, it also means that you bear all of the burden of running a business. Something that can help with starting and operating a successful business is creating a business plan. It is important not only for defining and identifying your goals for the business, but it also can help you secure financing for your business.

When to Create Your Business Plan

While writing a business plan can be a daunting task, it's probably one of the most important steps in starting your business. In fact, it's best to have a good working business plan before you even start your business because it serves as a roadmap for both your business and any potential lenders that will provide financing for your business. You can follow FindLaw's business plan outline for help when drafting yours.

It's important to remember that your business plan isn't written in stone. If things change during the course of your business, you can, and should, edit it. It's also possible to draft a whole new plan if you realize that your original plan no longer works for your business. If you do this, however, it's a good idea to include the same or similar information in regards to your obligations to any lenders or investors. This way you'll know what your agreement was with lenders or investors. The fact that your business plan may change during the life of the business should not be used an excuse to not create a plan before starting your business.

Components of a Business Plan

The contents of a business plan will vary depending on the specific business. There are, however, certain things that are common to most business plans; specifically, a description of the business, finances, management, and marketing. The degree of detail is entirely up to the owner(s), but a more detailed plan will be more useful to the company.

It is also helpful to have some kind of summary, usually referred to as an executive summary, at the beginning of your business plan. This summary will be the first impression on any potential investors or lenders, and for this reason, it needs to be good. It should include various topics, including a description of the business; the current stage of the business and the direction it would like to go; the company's marketing plan, and its revenue and profit expectations. It's also a good idea to briefly discuss the background of the management team.

A good business plan can be a communication, management, and, of course, planning tool. It will help to attract employees, investment capital, loans, and business partners. An investor or lender will be more likely to provide money to your business when they see that you've put research and thought into the business. As a management tool, the plan can help monitor and evaluate the progress of your business. Finally, the business plan is in essence a planning tool that can guide you through the different phases of your business. You can also share your business plan with employees to help them have a broad understanding of the direction of the business.

Getting Legal Help

If you would like help creating a good business plan -- or any other aspects of starting, operating, or closing your business -- you should contact an experienced business organizations attorney in your area.

If you would like more information and resources related to this topic, please visit FindLaw's section on Starting a Business.

Next Steps
Contact a qualified business attorney to help you
navigate the process of starting a business.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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