The Elements of a Successful Business Plan

Abraham Lincoln once said that “Without vision, a people perish.” When it comes to succeeding in the business world, there’s some truth to this expression. Those that strategize and plan ahead are the ones who find success much easier. A few key elements go into formulating a business plan, with each being vital when it comes to getting on the fast track to success.

Researching Trends & the Market

You might have an excellent idea. You might even have products and services that have the potential to make a sizable change in the world. However, if you don’t have knowledge of the market and the rise and fall of trends, you’ll find that your goals are never fully realized. Knowing what’s out there can mean all the difference between success and failure.

Analyzing the Competition

The business world has a reputation for being cutthroat and competitive. If your offerings to the public have a slight similarity to someone in your general area, you’re going to need to examine their success and failures very closely. Analyzing what the competition is doing will allow you to get ahead in the game. Their weaknesses can be your biggest successes.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) is what separates the businesses that succeed and the ones that fail. Self-realization and internal analysis needs to be done on an almost moment-by-moment basis in order to fully understand where you stand in the business world and if the competition is getting ahead of you.

This analysis is composed of a two-tiered system, internal and external. The internal aspect of this process is found in strengths and weaknesses. This is the yin and yang of your business plan in action. Knowing where you’re doing well and knowing where and what you need to improve is how you fine-tune your craft. The external part of this aspect can be found in opportunity and threat. These are both outside of your immediate control. While opportunities are potential goals that are sometimes readily available, threats are the factors that hinder your plan–competition, the decline in trends, and financial windfalls such as recessions.

SWOT is a delicate balance of the internal and external and how to identify them properly.

Executive Summary

As the name of this step suggests, an executive summary is an overview of your business, the people involved, and the practices you’ve chosen to implement. In every summary, you should always center your mission statement as the most important aspect. This will allow you to determine how close you’ve followed it since its inception and how you can continue to do so. This is how you turn dreams into a sustainable reality.

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