Decide why you’re writing your plan.
Is your focus raising money, launching
a new venture or finding strategic partners? Begin
by preparing a short paragraph, much like a mission
statement, outlining why you’re writing a business
plan. Refer to it frequently to keep motivated and
focused on the message you wish to convey. |
Do your homework. Before
starting your research, take a look at all aspects
of your business plan to see the big picture. Read
a few books on business plans. Look at Web
resources, such as the Small Business
Administration (SBA) business-planning outline.
Get a feel for what a business plan is, what it
isn’t and what those who read it will expect.
Then prepare an outline of the major sections
and subsections you think should be included.
Compile your information.
Dig through every box, file cabinet
and computer document you have—articles, financial
statements and press releases. Don’t rate the
quality of the information at this stage—just
Start typing. Write down
all your ideas, notes and questions for each
section of your outline. Approach it like a
brainstorming session, jotting down ideas that
demand further consideration or input from others.
Then arrange the sections in the most logical
Write a rough draft. Turn
your outline into complete sentences and
paragraphs. Then print out a copy and read it
through a few times, revising as you go. You’re
Do more research. Build your
case with data that supports your assertions. Talk
to anyone who might help you collect information,
such as a local SBA representative, and look for
resources on the AICPA Web site ( www.aicpa.org )
or that of your state society. Track down annual
reports, and request product and service information
from your business competitors. |
Think about the numbers.
Begin developing pro forma financial
statements: This allows you to match and support
the text of your business plan with numbers.
Write a final draft.
Bankers and investors will assume
you’ll protect their money with the same level of
care and attention you put into your business
plan. Check, double-check and triple-check your
draft, crunching and re-crunching your numbers to
make sure they are accurate and proofing the
grammar and spelling.
Get feedback. Ask a few
people you trust to read your plan and offer
suggestions. Take detailed notes on their
Polish your plan to perfection.
Create a cover page, table of
contents and nondisclosure form and a one-page
executive summary that encapsulates the