Tag Archives: Writing a Business Plan

How to Write a Business Plan

How to Write a Business Plan from The Startup Garage

How to Write a Business Plan

A business idea is not enough to build a successful business. Ideas are everywhere, but successful businesses are not. The difference lies in having a solid business model and business strategies around your great idea. The best way to do this is to complete a professional business plan.

The business planning process provides structure and guidance, determines resources you need to succeed, establishes a direction for your business, provides a way to measure results and provides a way to gain financing. In a sentence, a business plan takes your idea for a product or service and creates a business around it.  In this blog post, we will show you just how to write a business plan.

A typical business plan contains 10 sections and takes anywhere from 180 – 400 hours to complete, as outlined below:

How to write a Business Plan: Executive Summary 2 hours

The executive summary is a 1-4 page description of the entire business.  Though this is the first section that your readers will see, acting as a sales pitch to introduce the rest of the plan, it will actually be the last section that you write.  When you have completed the rest of the business plan, you will want to return to the executive summary, highlighting the key takeaways of each of the other sections.

How to write a Business Plan: Mission and Vision 5 hours

This mission and vision section outlines your mission statement, overarching vision and values for the company and often presents your company’s value proposition to your clients.

How to write a Business Plan: Product and Service Description 5-25 hours

The product and service description gives a detailed breakdown of all aspects of your product or service.  This section typically includes a general overview of the current problems in the market and your solution to these problems, your product/service advantages, your proprietary features, any liabilities associated with your product and service and your plan for overcoming these liabilities.

How to write a Business Plan: Market Analysis 20-30 hours

This is the first research section of the business plan.  It defines your company’s target market segments, or the groups of people that you will sell your products or services too.  You will want to narrow down your key market segments, the lowest hanging fruits, as muss as possible and then provide information about this target segment such as market size, break down of demographics and important market trends.

How to write a Business Plan: Industry Analysis 20-30 hours

The second research section of your business plan should provide an analysis of the industry in which your business will operate.  You should provide your reader with an overall understanding of the size and trends of the industry as well as any other important factors that will affect how companies in the industry do business.

How to write a Business Plan: Competitive Analysis 20-30 hours

The third and final research section in the plan provides readers with a breakdown of your direct and indirect competitors.  You will want to narrow down the definitions of your direct and indirect competitors as much as possible.  You will then want to provide a layout of the competitive environment, evaluating your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, ultimately communicating your competitive advantages, differentiating factors and why your company will succeed in spite of the competition.

How to write a Business Plan: Sales and Marketing Plan 20-30 hours

This section outlines your sales goals, distribution strategies, marketing strategies, SWOT analysis (your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), branding strategies and customer service plan.  After determining who your target market is in the market analysis, this is your time to determine how you will target them given your competitive advantages and the strengths/weaknesses of your competitors.

How to write a Business Plan: Operations Plan 10-40 hours

Your operations plan explains all of the internal systems, procedures and equipment necessary to produce and deliver the product to the customer.  Relevant sections that may apply to you and your business include location, equipment, purchasing policies, manufacturing process, personnel and organizational chart.

How to write a Business Plan: Management Team 20 hours

This section introduces the reader to the entrepreneurs and executives who will run the business, as well as the board of directors and/or advisors that will play a crucial role.  The goal of this section is to assemble a team that is capable of successfully caring out the funding necessary to succeed as outlined throughout the business plan.  You’ll want to provide a succinct biography for each member of the management team in this section as well as a complete resume in the appendix of the plan.

How to write a Business Plan: Financial Plan 35 hours

The financial plan breaks down the financial projections of the company in detail, compiling all revenues, expenses and profits into conventional accounting sheets (a balance sheet, cash flow statement and profit & loss statement).  The goal of this section is to show how the strategy outlined in the plan is sound from a financial standpoint, presenting a realistic business and investment opportunity.  This section also communicates the need for any outside investment and the uses of these funds.

The business plan writing phase is when your idea will grow and change the most. Don’t be surprised if your business plan looks nothing like your original idea. It almost never does! Stick to it — after lots of creative planning, researching, and strategy development, you will have a complete, well-integrated strategy for your new business.

Now you know how to write a business plan, right?  Well, as you can see, writing a business plan can be a daunting process.  If it doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, contact us for a free consultation regarding our business plan writing and start up consulting services!

Most Common Mistakes When Writing a Business Plan

Most Common Mistakes When Writing a Business Plan from The Startup Garage

Most Common Mistakes When Writing a Business Plan

If you are reading this blog, it is likely because you have written or you are in the process or writing your business plan and you want to know if it is up to snuff! We’ve compiled the 7 most common mistakes that we have encountered in the hundreds of business plans that we have reviewed. Now, be honest, are any of those mistakes part of your business plan?

1. Bad Spelling – It sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how often people forget to run spell-check on their business plans.

2. Lack of Research – This phase of writing the business plan usually takes the longest. But, it is important that you do not take shortcuts. Conducting the proper research and learning about your industry, your target markets and your competitors are paramount to creating a successful business, business model and business plan. With the information that you learn from your research, you will be able to develop successful sales and marketing strategies, pricing strategies, distribution strategies, product/service features to incorporate, etc.

3. Overoptimistic Thinking – Don’t fall in the trap of developing unrealistic projections because you are that confident in your product/service. Every product/service has competition; every company needs to establish a presence in the market; and every company needs to test and tweak its product/service and sales/marketing strategies to find the right mix. Furthermore, do not neglect your research. Use the statistics surrounding the size of the industry, the size of your market and your competitors market share to make realistic financial projections.

4. Lack of Evidence – This goes hand in hand with lack of research. Many business plans assert that the market is attractive or that there are no direct competitors currently on the market. These claims need to be proven with evidence. What makes the market attractive? If there aren’t any direct competitors, which companies will you most closely compete with?

5. Disorganized Logic – Many business plans present objections or accomplishments that the business will achieve. However, they are not supported with clear logic that shows how these objectives or accomplishments will be achieved.

6. Unclear Format – In many cases, problems with disorganized logic can be as simple as the format in which the statement is made. Use graphs, charts, images, infographics, bullets, prose, etc appropriately.

7. Jargon Language – If you are operating in an industry that is rich with industry-specific jargon, do not assume that your reader understands the jargon. Be sure to provide definitions and to complete spell out abbreviations.

Take a look at our Sample Business Plans and Products.

Whether you have a question about ___ or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!