The basics of writing a business plan
What are the main components of a business plan?
Every business plan is different – some businesses will spend pages describing their intended marketing, while others will need technical definitions to help an investor understand the terminology of the industry. Very broadly, a business plan should include the goals of your business and how you plan to accomplish them. You can expect to discuss operations, marketing, resources, finances, and other aspects of your business. If you have records of your company’s past performance, you should include them, as well as a discussion of what they mean. You should include copies of any pertinent information, such as licenses or sample contracts, in appendices.
In addition to your various sections, you will want to preface your business plan with an executive summary. Typically, your summary should be less than four pages, and the shorter it is, the better. An executive summary should include any important information or any details you want to highlight – in many cases, decisions about your business will be entirely based on your summary. Include your goals or mission statement, and explain – without any industry jargon or technical terms – why your company can complete them. You can also discuss previous successes.
What if I don’t have any information for my business plan?
If you are just starting a new business, you may not have past data to rely on. However, your business plan is a chance to research how other companies have done and how you can expect your company to perform. You should also investigate the differences between you and your competitors, as well as write about your background and why you are founding this company.
Who offers information about writing a business plan?
The Small Business Administration offers their Small Business Planner to help entrepreneurs develop their business plans. The SBA also lists links to local resources and can connect you to help within your community. Small Business Notes offers a general outline for beginning business plans, as well as a section by section explanation.
Creating a business plan is a process, and you will need to continue that process throughout the life of your business. However, it is a relatively simple document to produce, and is based primarily on information you will be dealing with on a daily basis.