Take a Business Plan Short-cut

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Create and maintain a professional business plan using Microsoft’s time-saving tools and templates. Whether you’re starting up a new business or fine-tuning an existing one, the best way to think of a business plan is as a map to success. It can help guide your business and ensure that you still operating for years to come. And with some of the excellent templates and features in Microsoft Office, the task of creating one is just a little bit easier.

Traditionally, a business plan consists of a summary of the business you would like to start (or are running); details about the products or services you will sell; how you will market your products and services; what type of revenue you expect in return; and any costs associated with operating a business. New businesses may also want to include sections on personal finances, start-up costs and a detailed financial plan.

If you’re already in business updating your initial business plan is the best way to check if you are on track. It can frequently pinpoint new opportunities or problem areas that need to be addressed. Existing businesses may also want to include the company’s financial statements to give an indication of your financial position.

  • Why You Need a Business Plan
  • For start-up businesses, planning can make or break your business. As little as 20% of new businesses make it past their first year. A business plan will also help when you’re seeking financing from banks, as it clearly demonstrates your plans and intent. If you have a good business plan and stick to it, it’s hard to go wrong. For businesses that have been operating for a while, planning may not seem to be that important. Most business owners will have created some sort of business plan at the start but may not have updated it as the business has grown. By revisiting the plan you can incorporate new growth strategies and identify fresh opportunities. If nothing else, it’s a good chance to sit down and spend some time thinking about your business and your personal goals.

  • Getting Started Using Templates
  • If creating a business plan seems daunting, don’t worry. Microsoft has teamed up with a number of organisations to create lots of templates to help you get started. Visit Office Online to download a wide array of business templates for both new and existing businesses. Each template has of sections for you to complete, describing your company, products you will sell and so on. The majority of the content of a business plan is in narrative form. This is where you describe your business and plans, relying on Microsoft Word’s features. For financial content, including cost and revenue calculations, expenses and so on, use Microsoft Excel to enter and calculate figures. If you are not sure where to get started on the financial side of things, the Template Gallery even has financial templates that will help you create all kinds of useful documents.

  • Inserting Financial Information
  • To make life easier, Microsoft Office has a few tricks to combine both the business plan narrative and financials. To start, open the Word document that contains your plan and scroll to the section where you want financial information to appear. Then, open your Excel spreadsheet and select the range of cells you would like to paste into the business plan and select Copy from the Edit menu. Then, back in your Word document, select Paste from the Edit menu to paste the financial information into your document. You’ll notice that on the bottom right-hand side of the table of data you have pasted, there is an icon that looks like a clip board, with a drop-down menu. This is a ‘smart tag’. Click on the down arrow to open the drop-down list and select the option for Keep Source Formatting and Link to Excel.

    This option will link your spreadsheet to your Word document so whenever you change or update the spreadsheet, the changes will be reflected in the document as well. This will enable you to keep your business plan up-to-date. As your revenue and costs change, your business plan will reflect those amendments with a minimum of effort.

    Other Useful Tips If you want to maintain your business plan over a number of versions, you may want to use the Track Changes feature found under the Tools menu. This will record any changes to your document. You can later view what information has been adjusted.

    You might also want to save your business plan with a new name each time you update it (e.g. BusinessPlan2005.doc, BusinessPlan2006.doc, etc.) so you have a record of your planning and achievements.


    Source by David McAmis

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