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Writing an Effective Business Plan: Introduction

By Julie King |

Writing an Effective Business Plan: Page 1 - Introduction
So you want – or need – to write a business plan. You might be looking for debt or equity financing, or maybe you need to to develop a blueprint to help you build your business. Either way, a comprehensive business plan is a useful tool that can help you meet your goals.

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Business Planning Essentials

So you need to write a business plan. Maybe you are a detail-oriented person starting a company and you understand that smart planning at the outset can increase you chance of success. Or maybe you need to develop a plan to apply for funding or bring on new business partners.

Regardless, a lot has changed over the past two decades about how companies develop their plans. There is the traditional method and a new "lean canvas" method. Each has its value and place.

Initial preparation

Before you get started, it helps to do a little preparation.

This article covers the basics of what you need to know. Our MemberZone guide includes in-depth planning and self-assessment tools that will help you shortcut the time you spend on your plan.

To prepare, you need to understand:

  • Your strengths, skills and where you have a knowledge advantage;
  • The gaps you will need to fill in order to be able to fully describe your business idea and write a business plan; and
  • What work / research you will need to do to validate assumptions you have made in deciding that your idea is a good business opportunity.

To write your plan you will neeed to be able to summarize some or all of the following:

  • Your corporate structure, organization plan and fiscal year-end;
  • The industry your will be doing business in;
  • Market research you have done to validate your business idea;
  • The uniqueness of your products and/or services;
  • Why people will choose you over your competitors;
  • How you will market your products and services;
  • Your sales plan;
  • Legal issues that you need to address; and
  • The financials of your business, including your revenue model, costs of doing business, sales and expense forcasts, break-even analysis and balance sheet.

In this introductory workshop I'll explain the basics of creating a business plan, based on my own experience and input from other professionals who are tasked with writing and reviewing plans on a regular basis.

The following pages outline the four major sections of a business plan, packed with tips that will help you write a plan that will get investors excited.

Click on a link to go directly to that page of the article.

Page 1: Introduction
Page 2: An Overview
Page 3: Why Plan?
Page 4: The Executive Summary
Page 5: Business Data
Page 6: Financial Data
Page 7: Supporting Data
Page 8: The Outline

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