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PLAN FOR SUCCESS with my creativeLIVE POWERFUL BUSINESS PLANNING 10-hour online course. To purchase follow this link.

Companies with written business plans had 50 percent greater sales growth and 12 percent higher gross profits than companies without plans, according to a Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership survey of Entrepreneur of the Year Award winners. Here are ten more benefits a business plan delivers:

1. Clear statements of your business mission, vision, and the values that steer your business
2. A description of your business model, or how you make money
3. A description of your products and services and the unique advantages they provide in your marketplace
4. An analysis of your industry, target market, and competitors
5. An assessment of your business strengths and weaknesses
6. A roadmap and timetable for achieving your goals and objectives
7. A description of your marketing strategies
8. An analysis of your revenues, costs, and projected profits
9. Benchmarks that you'll use to track performance and make mid-course corrections
10. A business "resume" you can use when introducing your business to key employees, investors, and business partners


One of the most frequent questions asked by people starting businesses has to do with timing: When should they open a business checking account, how should they run their businesses in the earliest days before they move into offices, and how can they be sure they get off on a solid footing. Here's advice from Chapter of Business Plans Kit for Dummies

*Commit to doing one thing well. Don't try to be all things to all people. Know your vision, mission, and the unique value you intend to deliver to customers. If any of those terms sound foreign, click on "FAQs" in the menu above to reach explanations.

* Establish pricing, billing, and collection policies. From the get-go, know what you'll charge and how you'll collect. And remember, being cheapest is rarely a formula for small business success. Your pricing needs to be an accurate reflection of the value of your offering, and high enough to cover your costs plus an adequate amount of profit to keep you in business.

* Run your business like a business, not like an adjunct of your personal checkbook or a hobby that you do in your spare time. The day your business opens, be sure you have a business checking account to keep business expenses separate from personal expenses. And even before your business opens, keep track of start-up costs, which will be deductible as business expenses after your business is up and running

* Designate a workspace even if it's in a corner of a room of your house. For advice about home offices, read Balancing work and life from a home office, an article I wrote for the Visa-sponsored BusinessBreakthrough program.