Planning Tools

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While not every business must have a formal written business plan, every business should do ongoing planning to make sure the idea is feasible and to provide a roadmap for achieving business objectives. Note that the exact content and depth of a written business plan depends on the audience and purpose for the plan.

Below are some general questions to consider along with some associated resources to help you answer them or learn more about the topic.

 Questions to answer in planning out your business:

Your Market:

  • Who is your customer? If your customer is a consumer, think of gender, age, income level and interests. If it is a business, think industry, size, risk tolerance, geography, etc.
  • What is the problem you're solving or need you're meeting? How is the customer meeting that demand today (alternatives / competition)?
  • What are you providing (your product / service)? How is what you're providing different or better than competitors (your value proposition and competitive advantage)?
  • How are you going to reach your target market? What specific tactics will you employ?

Your Business / Operations Model:

  • How will you make money? What are all the revenue streams you have or envision?
  • What is your staffing plan? Will you hire or use sub-contractors?
  • How will you support your customers before, during and after the delivery of your product and / or service?
  • Where will the business be located?

Your Financial Plan:

  • What are your projected revenues (include number of customers, pricing, frequency of purchase, etc.)?
  • What are your projected expenses (include start-up capital and on-going expense items)?
  • Do you need any money to get started?
  • What are your expected cash flows?
  • What assumptions did you use in making projections?
  • How are you going to finance the operations of your business? Where will you get needed cash to sustain you until you you hit break-even?

Additional Resources on business planning:

Sample business plans