Developing the Perfect Business Plan in 4 Easy Steps
Small Business Tips

Step 1: Make an Outline

A business plan has to start with an outline of each core element: Executive Summary, Company Overview, Industry Analysis, Market Analysis, Competitive Analysis, Marketing Plan, Operations Plan and Financial Plan. Each section should be a title heading with subheadings with the details and information for each. The company overview needs to include subheadings such as Recognition of Opportunity, Product Service Overview, Value Proposition and Business Model. Below those subheadings you can include another list of questions, data points, thoughts, and research which will guide you through the writing phase of the plan. Keep it all indented and organized.

Step 2: Build the Core Sections

This means the Competitive Analysis, Industry Analysis, Market Analysis and Company Overview, in this order. Competitive Analysis is the building block on which the rest of the business plan is based on and has to come first. By looking at competitors your company will learn the products and services offered, along with the prices. From here you can position your company and build up your business model, value proposition and competitive advantages. Once this is completed you are halfway done with your Business Plan.

Step 3: Finish a Draft Document

Now you can write your Marketing Plan, Operations Plan, Financial Plan and Executive Summary in that order. The Executive Summary comes last and is intended to highlight important points from the Business Plan. The Executive Summary has to be clear and straighforward, but intriguing enough to make the reader want to keep reading.

Step 4: From Draft to Final

Send the draft to friends, advisors and the management team. It's recommended that you send them out one at a time, and give each person/group a return time. Once they have made their comments/edits you can send it on to the next person. Do this with at least three individuals. It is much easier to comment on one document than three. Now the content is close to perfect so just hone the look of the Plan. You'll need to include a cover page, table of contents, page borders, headers/footers, and the company logo. Consider a strong layout and color scheme, along with pictures, graphics, or callout boxes.

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