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Putting Your Plan Together

So, what are your plans for the new year? Now, it wouldn’t be surprising if that question has created a few puzzled faces out there. Yes, we are well aware that we are still in the month of October and most people haven’t even begun to think of their plans for next year. But, of course, we’re speaking specifically to owners of small businesses in Canada.

As we’ve said many times in the past, all business owners need a plan to put their ideas into action. With the new year fast approaching, it is important to know what you’ll be doing to succeed in 2011. Today, freelance writer, editor and owner of The Write Angle, Sherry Hinman writes in a special to Sun Media about the steps to creating a proper business plan for anyone looking to grow their small businesses.

She outlines a traditional business plan as one that begins with a summary allowing the reader to get a quick idea about the plan without getting into intricate details. That is followed by an overview that outlines the mission statement, goals and objectives, corporate values or philosophy as well as a vision statement.

Hinman notes that next comes the description of the business environment, which takes a look at the market trends for your industry and your competitors. As well, an outline of the company and its strategy is necessary to determine the strategies about the industry, markets and the competition.

Finally, writes Hinman, is your financial plan. This covers the position of the start of the business and where the business plans to end up financially. This part of your business plan should entail an income statement, balance sheet and cash-flow statement. Don’t forget to include an action plan to show how your ideas will be carried out.

Following this outline should definitely put your company in a good position for tackling the marketplace in the new year. Being prepared before putting any plan into action is of key importance. Hinman notes, however, that not all business plans have to follow such a traditional model to be effective.

Mark Drager is the president of Phanta Media, which is a corporate video production company in Markham, Ontario. In Hinman’s article, he explains that he sometimes writes full business plans when looking for financing. However, he also creates what he refers to as an “annual vision statement” to keep his business on track.

Says Drager: “This concentrates mostly on what the company will be like in the future. Where will we be in one year? Three years? Five years? It’s a two-page document that outlines aspects like the company’s vision, mission, positioning in the market, objectives and corporate values.”

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