That does not mean you have to bust out Word and start the plan from scratch. A template is great--you probably are not doing anything that has not been done before, so it provides a proven structure for your plan. Pretty much everything on it can be customized.
Financial Plan. The financial plan section is the most important section of the business plan, especially if you need debt financing or wish to attract investors. The financial plan has to demonstrate that your business will grow and be profitable. To do this you will need to create projected income statements, cash flow statements, and balance sheets. For a new business, these are forecasts, and a good rule of thumb is to underestimate revenues and overestimate expenses.
Any funder worth his or her salt wants to see it right off the bat. Moreover though, a solid business plan is a living document that will continue to guide your efforts as your business grows. A lot of those mistakes (most of them, in fact) are the result of poor planning. Bad location, a marginal niche, having no specific user in mind, raising too much or too little money--all of these issues can be prevented or at least mitigated with good planning.
Know your finances. The other essential part of a business plan is the finance section. If your business isn’t going to make any money, it won’t be successful so you need to be very clear on how you will make a profit. Use it to your advantage – your plan will be incredibly useful when it comes to securing loans and investment, but that’s not its only use. It’s also a personal tool to help you understand your objectives.
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