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June 3, 2010

Elements of a Great Business Plan

If you’re looking to raise capital, you must have a professional business plan. And if you haven’t finished your business plan, you’re in luck… because for a limited time you can download a proven business plan template for just $97.

Learn how to write great business plan in 8 hours or less!

You must view the ten sections of a business plan not just as due diligence, but as an opportunity to capture the heart and mind of the investor. Each section has a special purpose.

Executive Summary: The “hook” of your business plan. This section concisely explains your product, the market size and need, and the company’s unique qualifications to fill those needs. The best executive summaries quickly make busy investors want to read the rest of the plan.

Company Analysis: Your opportunity to put your accomplishments front-and-center. A timeline of milestones proves that your company or management team have executed on a previous game plan and describes your company’s “unfair competitive advantage” (such as proprietary technology).

Industry Analysis: Proof that you know your industry inside and out – including the many overlapping industries in which your business competes. Include full industry figures from reputable data sources, but also include niche trends. Be specific.

Customer Analysis: A map of your customer relationships. Here you must demonstrate that you know your customer better than any other company does. Include niche market trend statistics, demographics, psychographics, and all pertinent customer information.

Competitive Analysis: Proof that you know your opponent. Your competition is not only public companies that operate in your industry. Your real competition is any service or product that a customer can use to fulfill the same needs as your company does – including actions by the customers themselves. Soberly lay out the strengths and weaknesses of your competition.

Marketing Plan: The Four P’s: product, promotions, price and place. Fully explain your product; how you will promote the product; your pricing; and your distribution channels. Be as specific as possible to show investors you know how to move product into customers’ hands.

Operations Plan: A description of how you service customers. Include your company’s everyday activities (short-term processes) and long-term processes. Include projected dates of product releases, revenue milestones, partnership formations, customer contracts secured, future funding rounds and IPO, and hiring. Here, investors are looking for context for “exits” or payout for their capital.

Management Team: The engine of your company’s success. Include biographies of your team members and the Board of Directors. Include past accomplishments that demonstrate an ability to execute on a plan and grow a company. If there are management gaps that are crucial to the early operations of the company, fill them before completing your business plan.

Financial Plan: Investors spend the most time on the financial plan, as it details how your business will reap great rewards for them. Your pro forma statements (future projections) must include dates for market penetration rates, operating margins, and employee head counts, acquisitions, mergers and IPOs. Exercise absolute realism.

Business Plan Appendix: Overflow documentation. This section backs up the claims made in the executive summary, financial plan, and the rest of the sections. Include technical drawings, patent information, letters from partners and/or customers, a thorough list of competitors, and/or a list of key customers.
Growthink business plans have raised $1 Billion in funding since 1999. And for a limited time, you can download Growthink’s proven business plan template for just $97.

Learn how to write great business plan in 8 hours or less!

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