Simple Guide to How to Write a Business Plan

Whether you are looking to start your own restaurant, get a food truck on the road, want to open a coffee shop, or start any other kind of business the chances are good that you will require a business plan.

Making a business sounds easy enough, but, if you are ill prepared you will quickly realize just how hard it can be.

Follow our simple guidelines and you will be on your way to creating a business plan that gets results!

How to Write a Business Plan – Basic Ideas

Entrepreneurs and business owners develop business plans for a variety of reasons. They could be looking to secure investment funds, forecasting growth, or even developing key performance indicators. Whatever the reason, the fact remains – all business need a business plan.

When it comes to writing a business plan, there are three key points to keep in mind:

  1. Stick to the important details.
  2. Know who you are speaking to.
  3. Be confident

Your business plan should be concise and to the point. A business plan is a road map used to define the strategic objectives of your business, it is not a one hundred page document that details every single chart, sales receipt, vendor contract or employee of the company.

Speaking of being concise, steer clear of technical jargon and the use of verbiage that the average reader may not understand. You don’t want to run the risk of scaring off potential investors because they do not understand what you are saying.

Remember, the typical business owner is not an expert. Many are learning as they go. If you do not feel confident developing a comprehensive business plan, but do not want to hire a consultant, you might find value in using a business plan template.

How to Create a Business Plan – a Short Step-By-Step Guide

A lot goes into writing a business plan, but, if you’ve never written one before how would you know what to include and what to leave out?  Here are six key things that you should include in your business plan.

The Executive Summary

An executive summary is an overview of your business and the strategic plans that you have for its overall success. The executive summary often comes immediately after the cover page and table of contents, and is no longer than two pages in length.

The Opportunity

The ‘opportunity’ section should answer the questions “What are you selling?”, “What problem does your product or service solve for the industry?”, “Who are your ideal customers?” and “Who are your competitors?”

The Execution

This section is your chance to discuss how you will take your opportunity and develop it into a sustainable business. Here you will discuss your marketing and sales plans and also how you will set measurable targets.

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The Organizational Chart

As the name suggests, this is where you will discuss the organizational structure of the company. You might choose to provide a bio for your company’s leadership team or, if you don’t already have a team, discuss how you plan to hire one.

The Financials

No business plan can be considered complete without a proper financial forecast.

Appendix

In the event that you require additional space for things like product spec sheets or charts and graphs, consider including an appendix.

What is a Business Plan in General

A business plan definition tells us that a business plan is “a formal overview of strategic business goals, a statement about why those goals are attainable, and the strategies that will be used to meet those goals. A business plan might include background information about the company’s key personnel or important product and / or financial information.”

Creating a Business Plan Outline

While business plans will typically vary in terms of length and scope, any plan should definitely be longer than a one-page document, because it should include a number of obligatory sections;  the basic requirements remain the same. Here is an outline of typical parts of a standard business plan.

  1. Executive Summary
    1. The problem
    2. The solution
    3. The market
    4. The Competition
    5. Financial highlights
  2. Opportunity
    1. Is the problem worth solving
    2. What is the solution
    3. Future plans
  3. Market Analysis
    1. Market segmentation
    2. Target market
    3. Market needs
    4. Market trends
    5. Market growth
    6. Ideal customers
    7. Future market
    8. Competitors
    9. Advantages over competitors
  4. Execution
    1. Sales and marketing plan
    2. Geographic locations
    3. Technology
    4. Milestones
    5. Key performance indicators
  5. Company and Management Summary
    1. Organization chart
    2. Plan for growth
    3. Company history and ownership
  6. Financials
    1. Sales forecasts
    2. Expenses
    3. P&Ls
  7. Appendix

Remember to include a cover letter (complete with your name and contact information) and a table of contents (with the proper corresponding page numbers.)

Using Business Plan Software to Make Your Work Easier

If you still do not feel confident in your ability to write a detailed and comprehensive business plan, you might choose to hire an outside consultant or download a small template. Most of the leading word processors, like Microsoft Word, have on board several options of business plan template, free of charge, that can easily be customized.

Otherwise, there are several great options for business plan software. Keep in mind that there is often a cost associated with these applications, however, it is still often cheaper than hiring an expert to write the business plan for you.

Some Business Plan Examples You Might Use

Here are a few business plan samples to help get you started:

  1. Sample Business Plans.
  2. Business Plans: Sample Plans.
  3. Resources.
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