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How to Write a Business Plan

Keep it concise and to the point.

If you’re serious about starting a business, having a business plan is crucial. A well-thought-out plan will force you to focus on what you want the business to accomplish and provide a blueprint for potential investors and buyers.

Your plan doesn’t need to be a novel -- a couple of pages may be all you need, says Barbara Findlay Schenck, a small-business strategist and author of Selling Your Business for Dummies. But it should outline the type of business you’re starting, your competitive strategies, your goals and your plans for achieving those goals.

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A typical business plan includes a description of the company, an analysis of the market, details on the product or service you plan to offer, the company’s organizational structure, estimates of start-up costs, projections for sales and profits, and a break-even analysis. (Find more information about creating a business plan at the Small Business Administration’s Web site, www.sba.gov.)

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You may need to consult with a lawyer, accountant or other professional, particularly if you’re developing a proprietary product or creating a partnership. But Schenck advises against hiring a consultant to write your plan because the result may not reflect your vision for the business.

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