Business Plan Template

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Taking Your Business Plan from Good to Great

This post was written by and paid for by The Business Owner’s Playbook

Wondering what it takes to transform your business plan into a truly powerful and effective tool for growth? The industry experts who put together the Business Owner’s Playbook  are here to help you do just that. Follow these simple tips to ensure your business plan not only serves as your roadmap to success but really impresses those who can help you get there.

Cover the Business Plan Basics First

At its very core, a business plan is a tool you use to keep your business on track, define your unique offerings within your industry, and raise capital. First and foremost be sure your plan addresses all three of these.

Remember, a proper business plan outlines your company’s strategic goals in a clear, efficient, and digestible manner, serving as a blueprint of your vision for the future of your business. All business plans should communicate your vision effectively to a wide range of people, including colleagues, investors, potential partners, and loan officers. Audience comprehension is key!

Key Components of a Great Business Plan 

While every business plan will differ in content, style, and length (depending on the venture) make sure your plan really shines in the following five areas:

1.)    Executive summary. Ensure your executive summary clearly conveys your business pitch. Remember this is a summary of what is to come, so limit it to a few pages in length at most. Depending on what you feel is your greatest strength, look at the following areas to excite the reader and compel them deeper into the nuts and bolts of the business plan itself.

  • company history
  • market opportunity
  • management overview
  • competitive advantages
  • financial highlights

2.)    Business description. This explains why you’re in business, what you’re selling and what differentiates you from other companies selling something similar. If you sell products, this might include key details like materials chosen, unique manufacturing techniques, and inventory management. If you provide services, you should describe your services and explain their unique value to customers.

3.)    Market research and strategies. This is where you show you did your homework. This section describes your market analysis findings and the resulting strategy, including sales, deadlines, milestones, advertising, PR, and how your business stacks up against your core competitors. Good business plans have this section abundantly covered.. Stand out by   presenting the data in a way that tells the reader the narrative behind all those fancy charts and graphs. Each bit of research should reinforce the “pitch” put forth in your executive summary.

4.)    Management and personnel. Remember any business is only as good as the people running it. Provide bios of your company executives and managers, and describe how their experience or expertise will help you meet your company’s goals. Anyone reading your business plan should feel like they are getting to know your team while simultaneously understanding their role in propelling the company to new and exciting heights.

5.)    Financial documents. This is where you outline the numbers to back it all up. You might include forward-looking estimates, including conservative projections of your profit and loss statements, balance sheet, and your cash-flow statements for the next three years.

A Few More Tips for Writing Your Business Plan

It’s important to write your plan in a way that’s both comprehensive and compelling, yet easy to digest.. Here are some tips for writing a clear, organized, and concise business plan:

  • Use simple fonts. Stick with the classic fonts (Times New Roman, Arial, etc.), black type on a white background, and font size 11 or 12. Pretty colors and exotic fonts mean nothing if they detract from readability.
  • Include a table of contents. Keep things organized with a table of contents to provide readers with quick navigation and a detailed outline of what’s included. Depending on the length of your business plan, someone might be reading it in pieces, a table of contents makes it easy for them to find where they last left off.
  • Use topic headers. Outline formatting makes your plan easy to follow, and headers set in a larger and bolder font help your readers easily find relevant sections.
  • Proofread. This is a vital step that ensures your plan looks professional, clean, and credible. Don’t rely on a spell-check program to catch every error. Re-read carefully to ensure you make the right impression on your readers. Also, recruit others in your business to read your plan and give detailed feedback. In short, you want to poke as many holes as possible internally before handing it over to a potential investor. When finalized, every component of your business plan should shine on its own.
  • Be concise. Longer is seldom better. Keep your plan as short as it can be (no more than 30 or 40 pages, including supporting documents), but don’t leave out essential details. Avoid the temptation to add filler, and only include information that can be supported and easily explained. Once you think you have everything, ask yourself “If I removed this section of my business plan, would my main points still come across?” If the answer is yes, cut it out!

Is the first draft of your business plan complete, but you’re stuck in the editing process? Here are some more tips  to help you refine plan.

This post was written by and paid for by The Business Owner’s Playbook

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

 

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