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The Business Plan Process

It all begins with research. Is there a market for your product or service? What is the competition? After research comes developing a strategy, calculating costs and revenues, drafting a plan, and finalizing a finished copy.

1. Do The Research

Use databases, articles and direct interviews with entrepreneurs and potential customers to do research on the industry as a whole, your niche market, your competitors, and operational costs. Keep detailed, organized, careful notes. Be very careful about citing sources, as you will be referencing them throughout the Business Plan.

2. Develop A Strategy

Use industry standard best practices as a jumping off point. This insures your strategy is solid, as it is tested in the field by others. But then you must develop further strategies that differ from the rest of the industry. This will set your company apart from the competition and create “barriers to entry” to help your business succeed. This will inform all sections of your Business Plan.

3. Do The Calculations

Add up all the costs of every activity your business will engage in. Include operational costs for the first-year, five-year and long-term projections. Then create revenue projections for the same time periods. Base your projections on the research you did, in light of the strategy you developed. Your projections must absolutely be realistic from square one, or the scent of naivete will make its way to investors, who will promptly drop your Business Plan in the wastepaper basket.

4. Write A Draft

If you have done the previous parts of the Business Plan process thoroughly, writing a draft will flow naturally from your existing data. The idea is to turn it all into prose, organized into the ten standard sections of a Business Plan: Executive Summary, Company Analysis, Marketing Plan, Industry Analysis, Customer Analysis, Competitive Analysis, Marketing Plan, Operations Plan, Management Team, Financial Plan and Appendix.

5. Revise and Hone as a Final Draft

First revise for logic and completeness. Remove any redundancies, as the Business Plan must be as brief as possible without sacrificing the whole picture. Then revise for grammar, punctuation, and finally formatting. If you need to hire a new pair of eyes to look over your Business Plan, do it. Business planning burnout can make you miss glaring flaws.

Your business may be at state. Don’t make the mistake of leaving out complete analysis of the market and competition. It doesn’t have to be all about the glories of your own business. Open the door to more information and your plan will be more enticing to investors.