Friday, May 31, 2002

Don't forget a business plan
With Tom Carden
Q. How important is it to have a business plan?

A. Very important. A business plan should demonstrate the viability and potential of your business, as well as your knowledge and understanding of the variables required for successfully attaining your objectives. In addition to providing a framework for operating your business and measuring your performance, the plan should provide lenders and investors a basis upon which to evaluate the risks and opportunities in your company.

A comprehensive business plan that is prepared for one-, three- and five-year periods can be the most useful and beneficial business tool to companies of all types and sizes. A business plan should be referred to regularly to judge your performance relative to the plan and make alterations as required.

The preparation of a business plan is a participative process in which selected employees examine the decisions of management, marketing, finance and personnel. The table of contents should include: (1) Executive summary; (2) Business description; (3) Market potential assessment; (4) Marketing plan; (5) Production and operations plan; (6) Management team; and (7) Financial summary. Every employee must understand, embrace and enhance the key elements in the business plan.The business plan preparation process usually results in a more organized and cohesive company and provides senior management with a road map to successfully achieving their goals and objectives.

Tom Carden is v.p. of sales and marketing at Healthcare Business Credit Corp. Reach him at (800) 952-0245.