Business plan

How to create a business plan in 3 key steps

Starting a new business can be exciting and understandably a bit daunting at the same time.

There are several important steps, such as registering your business with the state, collecting a tax ID, and filing to become an LLC or corporation. These are essential to the process.

Courtesy of National Bank of Camden

Chris Abbott at Camden National Bank

But before embarking on these key start-up tasks, I always recommend that entrepreneurs begin by formulating a solid business plan.

By developing a business plan, you will better understand your goals and strategies, and how your unique offering fits into the market. Plus, you’ll be in a better position to assess the feasibility of your idea before you start investing time and money into it.

Here are three key things to focus on when developing a business plan:

Answer critical questions. A business plan forces you to answer tough questions, such as how you will market your product or service, who you will market it to, where you will focus your sales efforts, what your prices will be, and more. You will be able to identify concrete strengths and possible shortcomings. Once you’ve determined your various business strategies, it’s important to organize your plan into key sections, including things like operations, products and services, and marketing.

Look ahead. Most business plans include three to five year projections, outlining goals and revenue growth plan. Factoring future growth into your business plan can be an effective way to account for market changes, understand staffing needs, and anticipate any funding that may be required. Be sure to include the proposed loan or financing you are requesting to show that the business could incur this new debt and how the financing will be used. This will help financial institutions or business partners to be sure that they will see a return on their investment.

Use local expertise. Having a mentor or coach can be a huge asset when developing your business plan. There are several agencies you can work with, including your local Small Business Administration office, SCORE, and the Women’s Business Center. They can help you formulate and revise your business plan. These mentors can provide actionable advice on your plan, goals, projections, and funding sources.

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