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Writing a Business Plan - Michigan Companies

A business plan clarifies and puts on paper your main business idea and defines your long term objectives. Michigan is a great place to start a new business and there are many opportunities.  Your business plan will provide a blueprint for running your business and a series of benchmarks to check your progress against. It is also vital for convincing your bank or business support organization – and possibly key customers and suppliers – to support you. 

  1. The executive summary highlights the most important points. When deciding whether to back a start-up, bank managers and investors often make provisional judgments based on the executive summary.  It should sum up six areas.
    1. Your product or service and its advantages.
    2. Your opportunity in the market.
    3. Your management team.
    4. Your track record to date.
    5. Financial projections.
    6. Funding requirements and expected returns.
  2. Explain the background to your business idea, including:
    1. The length of time you have been developing the business idea in its present form.
    2. Work carried out to date.
    3. Any related experience you have.
    4. The proposed ownership structure of the business.
  3. Explain, in plain English, what your product is or what your service offers. Make it clear how:
    1. It will stand out as different from other products or services.
    2. Your customers will gain through buying your product or service.
    3. The business can be developed to meet customers’ changing needs in the
      future.
    4. It is important to cover any disadvantages or weak points you feel the
      business may have.
    5. Be frank about these – it actually inspires confidence
  4. The market. Focus on the segments of the market you plan to target – for
    example, local customers or a particular age group.
    1. Indicate how large each market segment is and whether it is growing or
      declining.
    2. Illustrate the important trends – and the reasons behind them.
    3. Outline the key characteristics of buyers in each segment, such as age, sex
      or income.
    4. Mention customers you have already lined up and any sales you have already
      achieved.
  5. The competition. What are the competing products and who supplies them?
    1. List the advantages and disadvantages of all your competitors and their
      products.
    2. Explain why people will leave established competitors and buy from you
      instead.
    3. Show that you understand your competitors’ reaction to losing business and
      demonstrate how you will respond to it.
  6. Unless there is a viable market and you know how you are going to beat the
    competition, your business will be vulnerable.
    1. You must show you have done the market research needed to justify what you
      say in the plan.
  7. Marketing: How will your product or service meet your customers’ specific needs? How will you position your product?
    1. Why should they buy from you and not a competitor?
    2. What’s your unique selling proposition or USP? 
    3. This is the place to show how your price, quality, design features, response
      time and after-sales service will compare with competitors.
    4. Quote minimum order figures, if appropriate.
  8. How will you promote your product? For example, using advertising, PR, direct mail or via email and a website
    1. Services and intangible products (such as computer software) require a different marketing approach – you need to focus on customer service.
  9. Outline the management skills within your team. People reading the business plan need to be given an idea of why they should have faith in the management of your start-up operation.
    1. Define each management role and who will fill it.
    2. Show your strengths and outline how you will cope with any weaknesses.
    3. Describe the background and experience of each team member.
    4. Clarify how you intend to cover the key areas of production, sales, marketing,
      finance and administration.
    5. Management information systems and procedures should be outlined. For
      example, management accounts, sales, stock control and quality control.
    6. Show how many ‘mentors’ and other supporters you will have access to.

Above is a general outline in developing a business plan for your new Michigan Business. 










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