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Building Your Business Plan

QUICK SUMMARY

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, your business sprang from an idea or vision you had in your head. As a creative thinker, you probably had a pretty detailed concept of how you wanted your business to work. But if you expect other people, such as partners, investors, and loan officers, to understand your vision, you need to write it down as a strategic document. That’s where the business plan comes in.

Why Do I Need a Written Business Plan?

A business plan describes the nuts and bolts of your business and explains how you’re going to reach your goals. It’s particularly important for an entrepreneur just starting out or an emerging business that is looking to take the next step down the expansion and growth path.

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Main Components of a Business Plan

The topics covered in a business plan may vary slightly depending on your type of business, but most plans contain these main components:

  • Executive summary
  • Company description, mission statement and structure
  • Market analysis, competitive landscape and strategies
  • Management and personnel
  • Financial documents
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How to Write a Readable Plan

Every business plan should be as unique as the business it describes. But there are a few general formatting guidelines that you should follow:

  • Keep fonts simple and easy to read
  • Write in outline format with topic headers for quick skimming
  • Include a table of contents for easy reference
  • Make it look professional, but clearly written by you
  • Keep it as short as possible, but don’t leave anything out just for brevity
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Revising and Refining Your Plan

Your business plan is built on future assumptions and no one is 100% accurate in predicting the future. So review and update your entire plan at least annually. Consider reassessing the financials monthly or on a schedule that corresponds to the closing of your books.

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