How to Write a Business Plan (And Also How Not To!)

This is something everybody should do before even thinking of starting a business. Yes, it’s all about how to write a business plan.

In short, your business plan is a mirror image of your thoughts on paper. While there are different ways of writing a business plan like will tell you, let’s not get into the formats here. For now, this piece will help you get started on how to write a business plan – what are the things you should consider and what must you avoid.

First of all, ask yourself these questions:

a) What is the product or service I will offer?
b) Who are my customers?
c) How will I finance my business?
d) How will I reach the customers?

If you are in a position to answer these questions, deep down you probably already know how to write a business plan. The following tips might just make it easier.

Get a move on: Don’t wait till you can put it off no longer – do it with enough time to spare for those inevitable changes. It’s also a good idea to get a second or third opinion before finalizing that draft. Seek professional help if necessary – there are plenty of resources out there on how to write a business plan.

Keep it sharp: Always remember, your business plan should not exceed 50 pages, unless you want to put those investors to sleep. It’s not necessary to dump in all the stuff in your head. Stick to the essentials, but say it without ambiguity. It’s not a bad idea to include a few colorful charts, tables, bullet points and pictures to break the monotony. Ensure that key business objectives are highlighted upfront. A plan is not complete unless it includes market estimates, growth projections and a financial projection.

Finally, present it with confidence and conviction.

Mind your audience: How you write a business plan will most definitely depend on who you’re talking to. Corporate investors like venture capitalists look for a sound business model and a capable leadership team before they part with their money. On the other hand, if you’re trying to sell the idea to your team members or senior management, address “how to” issues and risk factors.

Be realistic: Sometimes plans look good on paper, but are next to impossible to implement. Talk in realistic terms and keep your goals simple. Investors can be hawkish when it comes to appraising business strategy, so don’t overreach your business plan.

Say why you’re the best: That’s the way world goes. While writing a business plan, it’s very important to think competitively throughout. State how your business is different – present an objective evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of close competitors. Highlight any innovations – for instance, are you planning to use a different marketing or distribution tool or employ breakthrough technology?

Package it well: The worst thing you can do to a good business plan is to package it shabbily. If you didn’t win the spelling bee in high school, have someone proof-read your document. Break it into different sections, with clear titles. An executive summary is a must. At the same time, don’t overdo it with too many bells and whistles like cumbersome binding or meaningless illustrations.

So, what are you waiting for? Summon all your energy and say “Go…”

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