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How you can boost your business plan

Your business plan is the first step toward creating a strong business that can stand up to changes in the economy and both positive and negative days on the books. You want to decide on your target market and show why the market will want to buy from you. You need to define your services and how you'll earn from them. Taking the time to create your business plan correctly allows you to know your profit margins and to prove to those who would fund you with loans or financing that you've taken the time to get to know your business before jumping in.

Be clear about what you'll offer as a business. What are your services and how do they differ from what's already available? For example, if you offer food delivery, are you delivering on the same day while others deliver next day? Is that in demand in your area? Think about the benefits people receive when they come to your business over someone else's.

Specialize if you can. Sometimes, businesses fail because they try to do too many things and don't master any of them. It's better to be the best at one or two niche categories instead of mediocre in several. A good example would be to focus on only creating floral arrangements for weddings out of real flowers instead of working with artificial flowers as well.

Speaking of your niche -- you need to identify it. Do market research to determine which areas of needs aren't currently being met in your area and investigate how you can be the person to deliver on those needs. With these tips, you may be better able to find investors and get the financing you need.

Finally, be realistic. New businesses and expansions of existing businesses are motivated by optimism, passion and ambition. Those are absolutely necessary. Often, though they can blind you to flaws in your plan or to overestimates of sales and underestimates of costs. Use your enthusiasm to motivate yourself to overcome the challenges of achieving your goals, but don't let it cloud your judgment about what those challenges are. Identifying challenges and planning to overcome them is where the advice of good technical, financial and legal professionals is vital.

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration, "How to Make Your Business Plan Stand Out," accessed June 23, 2015

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