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Essentials for Successful Business Planning

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One of the most critical aspects of starting a business is effective planning. You may be thinking of providing services within the public or private sectors or for people living in the community. You may have found that product development and delivery to market is your niche. Whether you aim to provide a service or product, business success is highly continent upon thoughtful and realistic planning (Johnson, 1990).

A business plan, sometimes confused with a business case, is a plan for a start-up business. It is a formal statement that outlines all aspects of the economic viability of your business. While a business case is the justification for an initiative within an existing business, such as a new service, piece of equipment or software. While the development of a business case may be familiar to many nurses within Australia, few may have experience with the actual development of a business plan. Business plans vary depending on the type of service or product. The following elements are usually considered: executive summary, company description, market analysis, service or product description, marketing and competition, financials, key personnel and an appendices.

The executive summary is most likely the most critical aspect of your plan and probably the first thing the reader will read. However, it should be written last, after you have researched and developed the other components of the plan. The reader of your plan, possibility a potential investor (e.g., banker, venture capitalist, or business angel), most likely will not have much time to read your plan in detail. The executive summary should peak their interest and encourage them to read more (Mason & Stark, 2004). Typically one to two pages, the executive summary should include a mission statement, a description of the business, a description of your service or product, marketing, financial considerations and key personnel.

Company Description

The company description should be fairly straight-forward, providing a vital description of: what you do; why you do it; who you do it for; and why you'll be successful doing it. It should provide the vision and direction of the company. At a minimum, it should include: company name, mission statement, company objective and goals, service or product, target customer, ownership structure, current status and business history. You may also wish to include such topics as business' strengths and skills, legal form of ownership and business philosophy.

Market Analysis

Consider who you want to reach and why. This is one area many companies do not devote sufficient research, often contributing to avoidable failure. Identify and define your market, know what population and/or group of people that would be interested in your service or product and develop a well-defined statement that is supported by evidence. Consider such questions as:

* What is the size of your target market?

* How old are they?

* What gender are they?

* Where do they live?

* What is their family structure?

* What is their income?

* Are there cultural or ethnic considerations?

* How do they spend their spare time?

* What motivates them?

Service or Product Description

Now that you have described your market, you want to provide a convincing argument why there is a substantial need for your service or product. A detailed service or product description should identify the specific benefits, your ability to meet the consumer's



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