How to Write a Business Plan

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Are you thinking about becoming an entrepreneur? If you haven’t made one yet, you’ll need to make a Business Plan to get things going, and you’ll definitely need one before you’ll get any funding. This article will give an overview of a typical Business Plan. 

A Business Plan is considered an entrepreneur’s ‘road map’ for the next three to five years. They are used to show that the business you’re proposing is well thought-out and has a good probability of being successful. Business Plans come in all shapes and sizes, but they all follow the same six-section structure:

  • First, you’ll start off with an Executive Summary. The Executive Summary should be written as if you were presenting your idea to the CEO of a company—short and concise.
  • Next is the Company Overview where you will talk about what your prospective company is, what it’ll do, and how it’ll make money.
  • The following sections go into deeper detail, starting with the Market Research section. Here you will summarize all of the research you’ve done that’s related to your prospective company. It should prove, through hard and soft data, that your business is necessary and could be successful.
  • After you’ve proved that your company could work, you need to go into more detail on your products/services with the Product & Services section.
  • Tangentially, you’ll have to describe your marketing plan and selling processes in the Marketing & Sales section.
  • Finally, you’ll end with the Financial Projections section. This section will require you to make educated guesses on the net income your prospective business will have over the next three to five years.

Creating a good Business Plan will take a decent amount of time, but it will make you think about all the different aspects of your proposed business. When it’s completed, you should have a rock-solid business that has a good possibility of succeeding!

The Business Plan sections have been summarized below:

Executive Summary:

  • Introduces you and your company.
  • Outlines who your customers will be.
  • Explains why your business will be successful.

Company Overview:

  • Involved explanation of your business
  • Involved explanation of what it will do
  • Involved explanation of how it will make money
  • This section will include:
    • A Mission Statement
    • Location/territory of operation
    • Key employee list
    • Any other info that will distinguish your company

Market Research:

  • Show that you’ve researched whether or not your company is actually needed
  • Describe your target market
  • Describe your competitors (both general and specific)
  • Describe any legal requirements that will need to be met/accounted for

Products & Services:

  • In-depth descriptions of all available services that you provide
  • In doing so, answer these questions as well:
    • What are you selling?
    • How will it meet the needs of your customers?
    • What are its benefits in comparison to your competitors?
    • What stage is your business in?

Marketing & Sales:

  • Explain how you will identify and gain customers
  • Describe your marketing approach:
    • Word-of-Mouth
    • Online Ads/Sales?
    • Direct Sales?
    • Etc.

Financial Projections:

  • Provide projected Revenue and Expenses for the next 3-5 years
  • How will you meet your financial obligations?
  • How will you maintain a positive cash flow?

 

Notes:  More thorough, step-by-step help is available at www.sba.gov/business-plan.

Business Plans are recommended to be 5-8 pages long, double spaced, 12pt Common Font.