Business Plan Guide

How to Write a Com­plete Busi­ness Plan


Tech­ni­cally, a busi­ness plan is a writ­ten state­ment of busi­ness goals, the rea­sons why they are attain­able, and the plan for reach­ing those goals. Prac­ti­cally, if you are want­ing to start your own busi­ness, it is very impor­tant to go through the busi­ness plan process. It will help strengthen your new busi­ness idea, expose any weak links or show you how it just will not work. All of these things are very impor­tant to know “before” you start your busi­ness – not after you are committed.

How to write a good Busi­ness Plan:

  • Arrange it cor­rectly with a table of con­tents, an exec­u­tive sum­mary and the chap­ters in log­i­cal order (see below).
  • Keep it the right length with the right appear­ance – not too long or too short and not be too fancy or too plain.
  • Accu­rately por­tray what the founders and com­pany expect to achieve in the next three to seven years.
  • Explain how the company’s prod­ucts or ser­vices will ben­e­fit users.
  • Prove the mar­ketabil­ity of its prod­ucts or ser­vices using ver­i­fi­able data.
  • Finan­cially jus­tify how it will sell its prod­ucts or services.
  • In the case of product(s), explain prod­uct devel­op­ment, man­u­fac­tur­ing processes and asso­ci­ated costs.
  • Por­tray the part­ners as hav­ing man­ag­ing expe­ri­ence and com­pli­men­tary busi­ness skills.
  • Cre­ate believ­able finan­cial pro­jec­tions with key data explained and well documented.
  • If you seek investors, explain how they can cash out in three to seven years with an appro­pri­ate profit.
  • Be able to orally present this busi­ness plan in an eas­ily and con­cisely explain­able, well-​orchestrated manner.

Ele­ments of a good Busi­ness Plan:

  • Table of Contents
  • Exec­u­tive Summary
  • The Com­pany
  • Mar­kets and Competition
  • The Prod­ucts or Services
  • Sales
  • Man­u­fac­tur­ing (if applicable)
  • Finan­cial Data
  • Invest­ment
  • Appen­dices (team bios and any sup­port­ing tables/​figures)

Busi­ness Plans are not just for start-​up ven­tures. They can also be very use­ful to exist­ing com­pa­nies that are expand­ing, need­ing addi­tional fund­ing or adding a new prod­uct line.

Busi­ness entre­pre­neurs like Ehsan Bayat have attrib­uted a solid busi­ness plan as the key to their suc­cess. It allows the owner to have real­is­tic expec­ta­tions and goals that they can work to achieve.

Some very good resources for cre­at­ing Busi­ness Plans:

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There are many good books on writ­ing effec­tive busi­ness plans. We have linked to a few here for you at Ama­zon. We are Ama­zon Asso­ciates and funds derived from the sale of books directly go towards keep­ing this Start Your Busi­ness blog going and pro­vid­ing much needed infor­ma­tion and resources to those seek­ing it.

How do I choose a Busi­ness Plan book?

Ama­zon BOOKS:

Writ­ing a Con­vinc­ing Busi­ness Plan (Barron’s Busi­ness Library) by Arthur DeThomas Ph.D. and Stephanie Der­am­me­laere MBA (Paper­back — Oct 17, 2008)

How to Write a Great Busi­ness Plan for Your Small Busi­ness in 60 Min­utes or Less — With Com­pan­ion CD-​ROM by Sharon Fullen and Dianna Pod­mo­roff (Paper­back — Jan 1, 2006)

The New Busi­ness Road Test: What entre­pre­neurs and exec­u­tives should do before writ­ing a busi­ness plan (2nd Edi­tion) by John Mullins (Paper­back — Jan 25, 2008)

Busi­ness Plans Kit For Dum­mies (For Dum­mies (Busi­ness & Per­sonal Finance)) by Steven D. Peter­son PhD, Peter E. Jaret, and Bar­bara Find­lay Schenck (Paper­back — Sep 30, 2005)

Busi­ness Plans For Dum­mies by Paul Tiffany PhD and Steven D. Peter­son PhD (Paper­back — Dec 31, 2004)

The Busi­ness Plan Work­book: The Defin­i­tive Guide to Research­ing, Writ­ing up and Pre­sent­ing a Win­ning Plan by Colin Bar­row, Paul Bar­row, and Robert Brown (Paper­back — Jul 28, 2008)

The Com­plete Book of Busi­ness Plans, 2nd edi­tion: Sim­ple Steps to Writ­ing Pow­er­ful Busi­ness Plans by Joseph Cov­ello (Paper­back — Oct 1, 2006)

How To Write A Busi­ness Plan by Mike McK­eever (Paper­back — Dec 12, 2008)

The Per­fect Busi­ness Plan Made Sim­ple: The best guide to writ­ing a plan that will secure finan­cial back­ing for your busi­ness by William Lasher Ph.D. (Paper­back — April 12, 2005)

Busi­ness Plans that Work by Jef­fry Tim­mons, Andrew Zacharakis, and Stephen Spinelli (Paper­back — April 1, 2004)

The Ernst & Young Busi­ness Plan Guide by Brian R. Ford, Jay M. Born­stein, Patrick T. Pruitt, and Ernst & Young (Paper­back — Jun 4, 2007)

The Com­plete Idiot’s Guide to Busi­ness Plans by Gwen Moran and Sue John­son (Paper­back — Oct 4, 2005)

Tips and Traps For Writ­ing an Effec­tive Busi­ness Plan by Greg Balanko-​Dickson (Paper­back — Dec 21, 2006)

Anatomy of a Busi­ness Plan: The Step-​by-​Step Guide to Build­ing a Busi­ness and Secur­ing Your Company’s Future by Linda Pin­son (Paper­back — May 1, 2008)

The Com­plete Guide to Writ­ing Effec­tive and Award Win­ning Busi­ness Pro­pos­als: Step-​by-​Step Instruc­tions by Jean Wil­son Mur­ray (Paper­back — Sep 3, 2008)

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