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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