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How to write a Business Plan

A good business plan will increase your chances of business success. It will help you identify your customers, market, competition, pricing strategies, financial and operational goals. By completing a business or strategic plan you will better understand your competitive advantages, new opportunities, current weaknesses and longer-term objectives for the business, and is also an important requirement for gaining finance for your venture.

Your plan should include all the background information to your business as well as the strategic planning for the direction and growth of your business. Specifically, your business plan should include the following:

Title page: Title or heading of the plan and brief description if required, author, date, company/organization if applicable, details of circulation and confidentiality.

Contents page: A list of contents (basically the sections listed here, starting with the Introduction page) showing page numbers, plus a list of appendices allowing the reader to find what they need and navigate the document easily, and to refer others to particular items and page numbers when reviewing or querying.

Introduction page: Introduction and purpose of the plan.

Executive summary page: Beneficial as a short précis of your business, this should normally be no more than a page long - the key points of the whole plan including conclusions, recommendations, actions, financial returns on investment, etc., clearly readable in a few minutes.

Main body of plan:

  • Overview description of your business – your products/ services, location/ service area, vision statement and mission.
  • Define and quantify your market – market sectors, market size, segmentation, relevant statistics, values, numbers (locations, people/users, etc) - make this relevant to your business.
  • Explain your specific market - sector trends, growth, legislation, seasonality, your particular niche, political, social, environmental and technical factors, opportunities, ethics, etc.
  • Analyse your customer base by customer type, values and products/services including major existing and prospective accounts
  • Explain you routes to market, gatekeepers, influencers and strategic partners - the other organizations/individuals you will work with to develop your market, including 'what's in it for them', commissions, endorsements, accreditations, approvals, licenses, etc.
  • Case studies and track record - the credibility, evidence and proof that your propositions and strategic partnerships work
  • Competitor analysis - SWOT analysis of your own business compared with each competitor
  • Sales and marketing/business plan for at least 1 year showing sales and margins by product/service, customer type, market, etc. This should be on a spreadsheet, with as many different sheets as necessary to quantify relevant inputs and outputs.
  • List your strategic actions (marketing campaigns, sales activities, advertising, etc) that will deliver the above, with costs and returns. This should be supported with a spreadsheet, showing cost and return on investment for each activity.
Acknowledgments and reference sources: only if relevant.

Appendices: - additional detailed reference material, examples, statistics, spreadsheets, etc., for reference and not central to the main presentation of your plan.
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We are not certified financial planners or advisors. The information in this website is general information only. Always consult a licensed financial planner before making any finance or investment decision.


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