What would you prefer to do?
Done correctly, your business plan will become the backbone of your business, helping your business get off the ground and grow.
|Sections||What to include|
|Executive summary||Write this last. It’s just a page or two of highlights.|
|Company description||Legal establishment, history, start–up plans, etc.|
|Product or service||Describe what you’re selling. Focus on customer benefits.|
|Market analysis||You need to know your market, customer needs, where they are, how to reach them, etc.|
|Strategy and implementation||Be specific. Include management responsibilities with dates and budgets. Make sure you can track results.|
|Web plan summary||For e–commerce, include discussion of Web site development costs, operations, sales and marketing strategies.|
|Management teams||Describe the organization and the key management members.|
|Financial analysis||Make sure to include at the very least your project profit and loss and cash flow tables.|
Before you sit down to tackle writing your own business plan, take a look at other business plans, preferably ones that pertain to your industry. You can review a variety of business plans at Bplans.com. The Web site offers sample plans for businesses such as event planning, medical billing, regional airlines, computer consulting, automotive repairs, beauty salons, and more.
Don’t wait until the night before your first meeting with your banker to begin writing your business plan. They take time and diligent research.
Professionals reviewing your business plan are not strangers to the ups and downs of starting and growing a business. While starting your own company may be a dream come true for you, you will not want to fill your business plan with grandeur, unrealistic goals, hockey–stick growth predictions, and budgets better left to business giants.
This point may be the best news of all. According to Bplans.com, "nobody reads a long–winded business plan: not bankers, bosses, nor venture capitalists."2 A long–winded, thesis–like document won’t make you look anymore impressive, so experts recommend keeping your small business plan to 50 pages or fewer.
If you’re struggling with your business plan, consider contacting SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business. SCORE will match you with one of approximately 1,200 online and retired executives who have a wide range of professional expertise that can help you start or grow your business. Confidential email and in–person counseling is offered at a price just right for a would–be business owner – FREE.