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How to Write a Business Plan This December

Whether you’re just starting to build your business or you’ve been operating for years, having a business plan that outlines your company’s purpose and strategy for the future is fundamental to achieving success. As December is National Write a Business Plan Month, we wanted to share some helpful tips this month for creating a well-developed business plan or updating your existing plan.

The following nine elements comprise a traditional business plan.

1. Executive summary – In writing your executive summary, you should briefly summarize your business plan as a whole and include a high-level overview of your company profile and growth plans.

PRO TIP: As it suggests, keep your executive summary focused and specific. This will help provide clarity for your readers.

2. Company description – Here’s where you’ll want to include the “who, what, where, and why” of your business: who you are, what you do, what markets you serve, why you’re different from competitors, etc. Be specific and explain your business’ story and what makes it unique.

3. Market analysis – Conducting competitive research and gaining an understanding of the outlook for your industry can help you pinpoint what successful companies are doing and how you can improve upon their tactics.

PRO TIP: Look for trends to identify how your business fits into market needs and detail those needs in your analysis.

4. Organization and management – Describe the structure of your business and your management team. This is an area where bragging is encouraged; show off the expertise and qualifications of your team leaders to illustrate how they will lead your business to success.

5. Services and products – What is your product line and how do your services benefit your customers? Explain any research or plans for development that you have for your products.

6. Sales strategy – Consider how you will market your business to attract and retain customers. In this section, you will want to describe how a sale will occur along with your pricing strategy for your products and services.

PRO TIP: Remember to write about promotional strategies you’re currently using along with how you plan to evolve those strategies in the future.

7. Funding requirements – Seeking funding for your business? If so, outline how much you’ll need and how you’ll use it in this section.

PRO TIP: Don’t forget to include a timeline of your future strategic plans. You’ll want to show how you have considered the long-term implications of any funding you would receive.

8. Financial projections – Your financial projections will serve to supplement your funding request described in the section above. This data can include income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements to help summarize your stability and project your potential for success.    

9. Appendix – Though not required, an appendix can contain documents or materials to support your overall plan. Typical items in an appendix might include: resumes, credit histories, permits, patents or licenses.

Creating a business plan can be time-consuming, but with this outline you should have a solid head start. Through the process of developing a business plan you can start thinking strategically about how to achieve your goals and identify any roadblocks before they arise. Prepare your business for success by writing or updating your business plan today.

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