by James Himm Mitchell, M. A.
Every business is unique; it's just a matter of learning how to identify what makes it unique. One way to discover this is to use several key points when planning and structuring your business.
A business plan is one key tool that really can make a huge difference in obtaining start up capital. Research shows that 36% of businesses which had a business plan in place got the required funding. These numbers drop to only 18% for businesses without a plan.
The key elements to your business plan are:
Summary - this should be a concise summary of your proposal. A well written summary allows the reader to grasp the main points of the entire plan.
Business Description - this portion should cover the history of your business, if applicable, and the current status. If it is a new business then outline how you plan to develop and grow your business. Highlight your products or services as well. Also include any information regarding patents or trademarks if necessary.
Marketing - this will show that you have done your research for your business. Show who your closest competitors are and explain how you intend to fulfill the need for your products or services. Also include a description of your target market in as much depth as possible. Provide a brief overview of how you plan to market your business.
Management - in this section provide details of all the people who are involved in the business with you. Include salary plans and discuss plans for staff recruitment.
Financial Forecast - this is normally the most important area of any business plan. When showing your forecast includes sales, profits, losses and cash flow. Ensure that your projections are realistic as this will increase your chances of being approved.
As well as your business plan, you need to show the advantage of what your business is all about. What makes you unique from your competitors and how do you plan on growing your business?
When researching your competitors look for their strengths and their weaknesses. Then see what you can do to improve on these qualities and apply them to your own business.
The more you can make yourself stand out from the crowd the more likely you will be to get help in obtaining the capital you need for your business. Remember no two business are the same, it is just a matter of identifying what makes your unique.