How to Write a Business Plan | Business Plan Format
Whether you are just starting a business or are planning an expansion, a well-researched and well-prepared business plan can serve as an invaluable guide for the future of your company. When considering how to write a business plan, you’ll need to be objective and use a business plan format tailored to your specific purpose for the document.
Why Write a Business Plan?
Many people think that a business plan is only used to secure financing. If they don’t foresee needing a loan, they won’t bother with preparing a plan. However, a business plan can do much more for you and your business.
A solid plan can guide you through all the stages of starting and running your business. Once it is written, you’ll use it as a roadmap for how to structure, operate, and grow your business. It will help you think about all the key elements of your business as you go through the process.
If you are considering applying for funding, a business plan can help convince investors and lenders that you have thought everything out, have researched the market and your competition, and have a solid plan for making your business successful. They will evaluate their risks based on the information and data you present in your business plan.
Before You Start Writing
Know why you are writing your plan. Many business owners see the tool simply as one to convince those funders to invest in the business. This view is a mistake. It doesn’t help you or your business on your path to success.
The most important thing to keep in mind before you start writing is that your business plan should convince you, as the business owner, that everything makes sense, including the timing, market, and potential personnel involved in your venture. It should be a true blueprint for how you will succeed, including a marketing plan, a strategic operational plan, and realistic numbers.
In fact, if you are considering launching a new business, the plan could be the very thing that tells you whether it is a good idea. If it doesn’t work out on paper, it probably won’t succeed in real life.
Business Plan Considerations
Maintaining an objective point of view is a critical aspect of knowing how to write a business plan. Approach the information in a logical way, doing the necessary research and developing a realistic profile of your business, your competition, and your potential market.
To serve as your guide for months and years to come, your plan should include details about how it will be run, who will run it, and who will be your customers. Start with your company’s vision and purpose. Why does your business exist? What are your goals? What are you trying to accomplish? Take a few steps back and answer these questions objectively.
The Business Plan Format
There is no right or wrong way to format a business plan. It has to make sense for you and, if necessary, for your potential investors or lenders. The Small Business Administration (SBA) says that business plans generally fall into one of two categories: lean start-up or traditional. The lean start-up plan focuses on summarizing the most important points of the key elements in your plan. The traditional model require more upfront work and uses a more standard structure with details included in each section.
When writing your business plan, include a few key pieces. Other than the Executive Summary, which should be the first section, these can be written and presented in any order:
- Executive Summary
- Goals and Objectives
- Operations Approach
- Management and Employee Structure
- Products / Services
- Market Potential
- Sales and Marketing Plan
- Analysis of the Competition
- Financial Analysis
CONTACT CLEAR VIEW BUSINESS SOLUTIONS FOR HELP
The financial experts at Clear View Business Solutions work with small business owners to help them understand how to be more profitable. We can help you develop your financial analysis, research the best business structure for you, develop loan proposals, and write your business plan, all designed to help your business be more successful. We work closely with you to help you be better prepared to make sound financial decisions and to plan for your success.
The past year, in particular, has been a challenge for many small business owners and solo-preneurs and we are here to guide you with professional business advisory services, tax planning and preparation, accounting, and bookkeeping. Learn more about how we can help you and your business by contacting Clear View Business Solutions to speak to our team about our services. Give us a call at (520) 544-0177.