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Start 2013 Off Right: Brush Up Your Business Plan

If you don’t have one, you should create a solid business plan soon. And if you do, the New Year is a good time to revisit it.

You wouldn’t take off on a multi-city, multi-state road trip without planning your route first, would you? At the very minimum, you need to know where you’re going – and why. If it’s a business trip, what are you hoping to accomplish? Are you going to just explore the country, visit relatives or maybe do research for a book? What will your schedule be like, and where will you stay?

Starting a business requires much more rigorous preparation. You can learn about some of the financial issues involved in a QuickBooks training course. But you also need a formal, written business plan. If you already have one, it needs to be updated regularly, especially in certain situations. For example, you might need financing for a new product or expansion. Or your company might have replaced its management team. Or maybe the business climate of your target market is changing.

QuickBooks Classes Cover the Basics

QuickBooks classes discuss the importance of, for example, understanding profit margins, and the effect of a break-even analysis. But  you need to know more.

Business plans consist of a combination of written text, charts and graphs, and mini-spreadsheets. As you’re preparing yours, think of the document’s eventual audience, and you’ll understand why each element is needed. You’re trying to build a very detailed description of your company’s:

  • Management team and organizational structure
  • Marketing and sales plans
  • Products and services
  • Market and competitors
  • Reason for requiring funding (if that’s your objective), and
  • Financial projections (these will include historical data, as well as income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements and capital expenditure budgets that forecast the next five years).

Paint a Professional, Easy-to-Understand Picture

QuickBooks training courses can help prepare you for the process of building your own business plan by teaching accounting fundamentals. Unless you understand the basics of financial management, you won’t know how to assemble the information needed when the time comes to create your plan,

How long should  your business plan be? The best answer is, As long as it needs to be. It would be difficult to include all of the required sections in fewer than 20 pages, but try not to go over 40.

Here are some tips on creating or refining a business plan:

  1. Be clear and succinct in your written documents: Say what you need to say in as few words as possible. Make sure that your grammar, spelling and punctuation are correct.
  2. Be positive but realistic – stretching the truth just delays the inevitable, and may cause serious business relationship problems down the road.
  3. Your charts and graphs should be crisp, clean and colorful, and they should have immediate impact. Don’t make your readers have to hunt for the most critical information.
  4. You might get input from your staff, but construct a document that reads consistently.
  5. Recognize how critical the accuracy and thoroughness of your financial sections are.

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