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June 26, 2010

How to Write a Business Plan in 4 Steps

So how do you write a business plan in four simple steps?

Keep it simple. There are many small steps to creating a business plan, but really there are four main steps. They are the same ones all writers use to produce any essay, report, book, movie script, or mathematical treatise. You write an outline, fill out the main areas, fill out the subordinate areas, and take that rough draft to the final draft stage. This simple way of looking at writing a business plan – in 4 steps – takes the pressure off, so you can perform well and get the funding you need.

1. Write the Business Plan Outline

The ten sections – or headings – of a business plan are the Executive Summary, Company Analysis, Industry Analysis, Customer Analysis, Competitive Analysis, Marketing Plan, Operations Plan, Management Team, Financial Plan, and Appendix.

Open a fresh document on your computer and write the headings in a column. Write subheadings for each. The subheadings are the main points or questions to be covered or answered in each heading.

2. Start the Draft by Filling Out the Core Sections of the Business Plan

The core sections of the business plan are the Competitive Analysis, Industry Analysis, Customer (or “Market”) Analysis, and Company Overview. Write them in that order, as the Competitive Analysis is the bedrock of the other three core sections.

3. Complete the Draft by Filling Out the Subordinate Sections of the Business Plan

The sections of the business plan that are subordinate to the core sections are the Marketing Plan, Operations Plan, Financial Plan, and Executive Summary. Write them in that order. Save the Executive Summary for last, because it presents the most gripping points from the whole business plan.

4. Convert the Draft to a Final Draft

Send the completed rough draft to a friend, family member, or associate that will be able to give you an honest, thorough, educated edit. Use the “Track Changes” function in the document to log the changes. Now, pass that same edited document on to another qualified friend, family member, or associate for a second edit. Although it may seem inefficient, the effect is the exact opposite. It avoids doubling up on suggestions, tracking changes one at a time so you can accept or decline them when you finally get it back. (Send the draft to a minimum of three people for edits.)

Format the final draft such that each new section begins on a new page. Include a cover sheet, a table of contents, and an Appendix containing all supporting materials. Use page borders, page footers with page numbers, and page headers with your company name and logo. Consider using pertinent pictures, infographics, and call-out boxes to round out the business plan.

Want more business plan tips? CLICK HERE

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