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What Should You Include in a Business Plan?

Every business needs to have a written out business plan. A business plan is vital for the success and long term outcomes of the business. A well-written business plan can be used to attract investors and set the direction of the company. But when it comes down to it, writing a business plan isn’t the easiest thing […]

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What Should You Include in a Business Plan? - James Michael Plumlee Financial Advisor - Thrive Global

Every business needs to have a written out business plan. A business plan is vital for the success and long term outcomes of the business. A well-written business plan can be used to attract investors and set the direction of the company. But when it comes down to it, writing a business plan isn’t the easiest thing to take on and it can take some time to develop a well thought out and detailed plan.

Choose Your Format

There is no right or wrong way to write your business plan because you need to customize it to fit the needs of your business. But most business plans fall into two categories: traditional or lean startup.

A traditional plan is the most common type, and this standard structure allows for each section to be filled out in great detail. All of the work for a traditional business plan must be done upfront, and these plans can end up being dozens of pages long. If you are looking for funding from lenders or investors, they will usually request to see a traditional business plan. A traditional business plan uses a combination of the following nine sections: an executive summary, company description, marketing analysis, organization and management, service or product line, marketing and sales, funding request, financial projections, and an appendix at the end.

Lean startup business plans are not as common as a traditional business plan, but they still stick to a standard format. They mainly focus on summarizing the most important points and key elements of the business. They typically do not take long to produce and can be used to outline your business plans. They mainly cover the company’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances.

Research

To craft a perfect business plan, you have to know your company and the market you are looking to break into. It is your main responsibility to know exactly what you can about your industry by researching and analyzing your product, and your objectives. Your research can be done by testing the products of other companies in the industry and talking to individuals and potential customers to gauge their interest. If you do not spend the time researching, you might not be able to accurately answer some of the questions you need for your business plan.

Company Profile

A company profile includes the history of the organization, the products and services offered, the audience you are targeting, the market you are looking to enter, what resources you are using, and what makes your business unique. A company profile is often found on the official website and can help attract new talent and potential customers.  Your company profile is also an essential component in a business plan and is one of the first parts of the business plan you should write.

Adaptability

Creating a business plan that can easily be adapted to a wide variety of audiences is something that should be considered early on in the process. It allows each reader to focus in on specific parts that are relevant to them. Bankers and investors may be more interested in balance sheets and cash-flow statements while a potential new customer may be more interested in reading about how your product solves a problem they are currently facing and need help fixing.

Writing a business plan might be one of the most difficult steps you face in launching your business, but deciding on a format and including as much information as you can, will make your business thrive in the future.

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