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Understanding Flow Charts
Among the many valuable tools that can be used in establishing business goals and logistics is the flow chart. Once established, the flow chart can be used in developing a business plan by incorporating those dynamic elements from the flow chart to address concerns and provide solutions in overcoming potential issues.
Simply put, a flow chart is a pictorial representation of a process that will allow for analysis, change, and ultimately reaching solutions that will improve or enhance the sales, marketing, and operations of a business.
A flow chart is constructed with specific icons that represent different actions. Ovals are used for start and end directives, rectangles are used to represent actions, and diamonds are used to represent areas where multiple solutions are available. Arrows are used to connect the different modules so that the chart flows in a logical progressive manner to its desired conclusion. Both Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word provide templates and easy to use tools to create a professional looking flow chart for nearly every application.
There are many resources available that will explain the actual process of constructing the flow chart, however the most important facet to remember is that actions and decisions are represented differently, and that the entire process must build logically from one step to the next and result in the predetermined objective.
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Integrating the Flow Chart with a Business Plan
Conversely, a business plan is a written document which includes the following elements:
Executive Summary: An explanation of the purpose of the business including the primary mission statement and other vital information.
Key Personnel and Management: Those who will be driving the initiative.
Market Identification and Strategies: This defines the demographics and geographic size of the market as well as strategies for growing the business and identifying opportunities.
Products or services: The actual objective is defined in terms of the goods or services that will be provided.
Funding Requests and Financial Statements: The funding requirements are identified and previous records of success are demonstrated.
Looking at the enclosed image, a simple flow chart identifies the specific actions that would likely accompany a new product introduction initiative. The process begins with defining the new idea, and then moves to recognizing the manpower requirements and the essential infrastructure improvements. At that point a decision would be made regarding funding options and subsequent production alternatives as well. The logical end of the process occurs when the product actually moves into production based on the elements and limitations of the flow chart which are incorporated into the business plan
There are numerous other steps that could be included to expand the detail of the flow chart and business model, but the basic principles of the process highlight the logical progression from design through implementation in order to show necessity of the product or service as well describing funding needs in your business plan.
Remembering the elements of the business plan that were identified earlier, it is easy to establish a complimentary relationship between the two business tools. By developing a well reasoned flow chart from the idea stage through actual production, the task of identifying the critical elements of the business plan and allowing them to integrate becomes much easier. Designing a flow chart in advance of the business plan will force the business plan writer to address many elements that may otherwise be overlooked or minimized. Review some of the business plan templates right here on Bright Hub.
There are numerous benefits in creating a business plan from a flow chart. The flow chart will expose any potential weaknesses in both the idea and its logistics. Referencing a well designed flow chart will result in a business plan that will impress potential investors with its logic and professionalism.