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What Goes Into Your Business Plan?

There are four primary uses for a business plan. It can be: a plan that is the blueprint for starting your new company; a plan for raising investment capital; a plan for securing a business loan; and, a plan for how to manage and grow an existing business.

The business plan that you write as the blueprint for your business will be the most detailed version of the plan. Writing that document should force you to think about all aspects of your new business. Later, when you apply for a business loan, for example, you will expand on those parts of the original business plan that will tell the bank how exactly its money will be used to grow your business, expand your infrastructure, etc.

A business plan is usually 20 to 30 pages long. It should be easy to skim, it should be jargon free, it should be persuasive as well as informative, and it should not contain any form of hype.

Here are the seven general sections that appear in most business plans:

Executive Summary

Unfortunately, the biggest decision makers who read your plan will probably only read the summary. Make sure it highlights all the important aspects of your business in a clear and easy to read, or skim, format.

The Company

Explain how the company will be registered, organized and run. What form of legal entity will it be corporation, LLC, etc. How much of the company will the founders hold? What will be the initial start up costs? How will funding be secured?

What You Sell or Provide

Explain your products or services: how they work, why they are unique. Cover costs to manufacture, deliver or sell your products/services

The Market for Your Product or Service

Talk about what benefits your product/service will provide for buyers, and why there is room in the market for your product or service. Include market research for your product, market niche assessment studies, and growth trends for the overall market sector. Sketch a broad marketing plan for entry into your market with a ballpark marketing budget.

Overall Strategy

Tie together observations already made about the quality of your products/services and your assessment of the market. Project your penetration of the market and forecast sales and costs accordingly. Define milestones for projected dates, budget phases and departmental responsibilities.

Management

Profile all company directors, officers and management team members, with an emphasis on what skills and experience they bring to the company. Include salary charts and future hiring plans.

Finances

Explain your search for capital, and how you will support running costs. Include balance sheets as well as projections for growth, fixed and variable costs, profit and loss, break-even analysis, cash flow, etc.

Remember, the business plan is a presentation document as well as a working blueprint. Use bullets, charts and other design elements wherever their insertion will make it easier for the reader to quickly grasp the content.


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what goes into your business plan?