How to write a business plan that will help you obtain financing, arrange strategic alliances, attract key employees, and boost your confidence.
Though many successful companies have been started without the benefit of a formal business plan (see "Seat of the Pants," October 2002), it can be an essential factor in the birth and growth of your company. A good business plan will help you obtain financing, arrange strategic alliances, attract key employees, and boost your confidence. It sells your company to the world and gives you direction as the world answers back.
From the table of contents to the financial tables, a business plan covers a lot of ground. How can you make your executive summary stand out? How much detail is appropriate when outlining your marketing strategy? What is the best way to present the financial projections? Here are Inc.com's best resources to help you create each part of your business plan.
No matter what type of business you plan to start, when your story is complete it will be an important part of the risk management process and a key to effectively understanding your business and its critical success factors.
In a nutshell, here are the areas you'll need to address in a business plan to offer prospective lenders and investors a complete view of your business, as well as provide you with a tool you can use to start and run your company.
When viewed as a selling document, your business plan takes on a new meaning. Here, David E. Gumpert, author of How to Really Create a Successful Business Plan, provides four compelling reasons for writing a business plan.
It's not an abstract, preface, or introduction, but the executive summary is one of the most critical parts of any business plan. Gumpert argues that an effective executive summary should be the entire plan in miniature.
It's a big market out there, so how can you break it down for your business plan? Learn the simple principles of segmenting your market and drilling down to a more precise view of your target audience.
After you've crunched the data and analyzed the market, you need a succinct and clear approach to best communicate that information in your plan. This article will help you decide what to include in your marketing section and offers a step-by-step format for doing so.
Even if you find finances intimidating or tedious, they're critical. The financial section of a business plan is not the time to add creative flourishes; instead, this author advises, stick to a conventional approach.
Predicting the future is hard. But when you're making financial projections, that's exactly what you need to do. You can avoid some of the most common mistakes by following this list of dos and don'ts.
It's not just what you're doing in your business, but who will be doing it. In the management section of your plan, you'll need to describe your organizational structure and put your team in the best possible light.
A business plan needs to not only explain what you'll be doing; it also needs to explain how you expect to do it, including the technology you'll use. Here, small-business expert Rhonda Abrams explains how to structure a technology plan.
Entrepreneurs learn pretty quickly that making a verbal pitch to investors is very different from submitting a written business plan. Here are seven good practices gleaned from a venture-capital boot camp.
Once academic exercises for eggheads, college business-plan contests now offer competitors the chance to win sizeable chunks of cash and launch a business. No surprise: Entrepreneurs have begun to horn in on the action.