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Business plan

A carefully drafted statement about a business, its objectives and how it intends to achieve its objectives. It includes a description of the business’s product or service, the market it serves, the approach and resources required, together with detailed financial forecasts. Ideally, a ‘best’ and ‘worst’ case scenario for cash flow should be produced, and profit forecasts for different levels of sales turnover, to enable the business to plan for and, ultimately, be able to cope with the different scenarios. Business plans differ considerably with regard to content and, in particular, the order in which the content is presented. Common sections and outline information included in business plans for business start-ups, are: Title Page, Executive Summary, Table of Contents, Description of the Business, Description of Product(s) / Service(s), Market Analysis, Marketing and Sales Plan, Description of Key Personnel and Organisational Structure, Operational Plan, Financial Plan, Implementation Schedule, Contingency Plans, Appendices / Supporting Documentation. Business plans are essentially produced for two main reasons: To secure additional resources (external role); To maximise the performance and potential of the business (internal role). Strengths and weaknesses of a business plan largely concern the requirement for clear, concise, realistic and coherent information based on well documented fact / market research from reliable sources, particularly with regard to the financial projections.

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