Q:

How do you create a business plan for free?

A:

Quick Answer

To create a one-page business plan from scratch, state what the business sells or what services it provides, who the target customers are, how the business fills a need, the plan for publicizing it, and how it makes money. It should also include obstacles, risks and issues. A business plan template provides an outline where you can just fill in the blanks or answer the questions to develop the plan. Free templates are available on BusinessNewsDaily.com and SCORE.org.

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Full Answer

A multi-page business plan has a cover page with the document title, which can be "Business Plan," the names of the business and owners, the address and contact information. If it is longer than a few pages, it normally has a table of contents.

The plan itself starts with a summary about the business, called an executive summary. Next comes a more in-depth description of the business itself, including a mission statement or statement of purpose. The company's goals and objectives, business philosophy or approach, intended customer or market segment, and the industry are parts of this section. The strengths that make the company competitive are discussed here.

A description of products and services comes next, along with an explanation of why they are unique or competitive and the pricing or fee structure.

A marketing plan includes marketing research, industry facts, trends and growth potential. Barriers to entry and risks form part of this section, as do distribution channels.

The operations section covers daily activities such as product development, inventory, staffing, customer service and quality control.

Lenders and investors are especially interested in the financial sections of the business plan. This includes the owner's personal financial statements, startup expenses and capitalization, accounts payable and accounts receivable. A 12-month profit-and-loss projection and a cash flow statement are almost always requirements for obtaining funding.

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