A good example of a business plan is one that will serve as guide for tracking a company's progress. More importantly, a business plan is a tool for attracting banks and private investors to finance a company as well as encouraging potential employees to join the team. In addition, a solid business plan will help a business owner identify potential risks and pitfalls so that he can address problems early on rather than being caught unaware.
Create a cover page. The text should be centered and double-spaced. About one-quarter down from the top of the page, print the name of the business followed by the address, telephone and fax numbers of the business. Enter the phrase "Prepared by" followed by the name of the business owner. Add the company logo. Somewhere near the bottom margin, enter the phrase "Submitted to," followed by the name and address of the individual or entity receiving the business plan.
Write an executive summary. The executive summary is usually no more than two or three paragraphs introducing the information that will be covered in greater detail in the main body of the business plan. At minimum, the summary should include the name and description of the business, the overall goals of the business and a statement about how the plan will help achieve those goals. The plan may include a brief statement about the financial requirements and expected profits and losses for the first three years of the business.
Create a table of contents. Write an outline of the business plan sections in the order they will appear in the plan.
Write a detailed description of the business. Describe the geographical location of the business and discuss the products or services the business will supply. Write about how the business will be run and provide a persuasive argument for why the business will succeed, highlighting the key accomplishments and experience of the business owner.
Discuss and analyze the market for the business. Explain the growth potential for the product or service the business offers. Use tables and graphs to present relevant data. Write about the company philosophy and slogan. Create a concise list of key objectives the business owner would like to accomplish during the first three years of operation pertaining to profit and productivity.
Discuss marketing. Detail the pricing strategy for the product or service, analyze the competition and describe the geographical location of the business, including the surrounding neighborhood. Include a statement about the company's legal structure. Summarize the marketing plan, including the promotional methods and advertising budget.
Provide financial information about the business. Include monthly and quarterly cash-flow projections for the first three years of the business. Discuss any outgoing expenses that may affect cash flow, including lease agreements, loans, taxes, suppliers, etc. Use charts, graphs and spreadsheets to illustrate the financial information.
Be as concise as possible. Although a business plan can run 50 pages or more, most people don't have the time to read a long plan. Try to keep the length closer to 25 pages.
Do adequate research before writing a business plan.
Ask for professional help when necessary to fill in gaps in your knowledge.
Proofread your business plan carefully.
Do not base the business plan on unrealistic assumptions or projections.
Do not claim that a business is unique or that it has no competition.
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