Start with the basics
The first step in drafting a well-written business plan is to outline the basics. Start with a few sentences or bullet points and expand from there.
A business plan typically includes seven sections:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- Product or service description
- Sales and marketing strategy
- Organizational and management structure
- Financial projections
Determine your audience
Consider who you plan to pitch your business plan to. Are you seeking private investors, a partner, bank financing? You may find that your plan may need to be adjusted to give your audience the information they need to make a decision.
Experts agree that time invested in creating a business plan will pay off in the long run. Smart tactics today can help avoid pitfalls that are learned in early research. Successful entrepreneurs draft a business plan with the following strategies in mind:
- Be Growth Focused. Growth will drive profits. Too often startups believe investors only care about profit. A sustainable growth strategy is a better indicator of long-term success.
- Be Budget Savvy. Managing cash flow can make or break a business. Failing to plan timing of receivables and payables can leave you without enough to make good on your expenses.
- Be Nimble. Review your business plan monthly and revise as needed. Market conditions, competition and personal life may all impact your business. Being nimble means that you will stay ahead of pitfalls and be positioned to take advantage of opportunities before your competition.
- Be Clear. Your business plan is a direct representation of you. Make sure you have clearly communicated your plan and that it is free of grammar errors or misspellings.
- Be a Realist. A well thought-out plan to succeed against the odds shows investors that potential challenges have been identified and that you are positioned to thrive.