1. Write an Outline
The easiest way to write a business plan is to use the standard format. There are ten sections which should be included in any business plan. In order, these are: Executive Summary, Company Analysis, Industry Analysis, Customer Analysis, Competitive Analysis, Marketing Plan, Operations Plan, Management Team, Financial Plan and an Appendix. Make an outline by filling in the details you already know about each section and stick with this format, since potential investors are familiar with it and will be able to find the information they want quickly.
The areas that will require the most research are the Industry, Customer and Competitive Analysis sections. Obviously, youΓÇÖll want to use reliable sources for your data here, including market trends as well current and historical stats. Your research for the Marketing Plan, Operations Plan and Financial Plan portions of the plan should include start up and operating costs for your new venture, locations if applicable and the labor pool in your industry and area. For the Company Analysis section you should also research your companyΓÇÖs existing labor and your labor requirements.
3. Develop a Strategy
Now that youΓÇÖve done your research youΓÇÖll need to make the call about whether or not your business is viable. If it seems like there is a market for the products or services you plan to offer, do some research to get projected revenue streams for the business. This is information which should be listed in the Marketing Plan. This is also the time you need to give some detail on how the company will be run day to day for the Operations Plan.
4. Calculate Financials
This includes the information youΓÇÖll need for your Financial Plan. You will need to analyze your projected revenues and costs to create a pro forma financial statement. This should be presented just as if it was a real statement of your companyΓÇÖs financials, so format it as a series of spreadsheets or better still, have an accountant prepare this for you. Potential investors will look over this section more closely than any other, so make sure to get this right.
5. Write the Narrative
Your business plan should be written in this order: Industry Analysis, Customer Analysis, Competitive Analysis, Marketing Plan, Operations Plan, Company Analysis, Management Team, Financial Plan, and finally, your Executive Summary, which should tell readers what your business is about and why it is exactly the sort of business that they should invest in. This section should come first when you put it all together and the Appendix containing supporting documents should be placed at the back.
People who have never written a business plan before tend to make the mistake of focusing on their business rather than demonstrating a knowledge and understanding of the industry they plan to compete in. If you avoid this error, your business plan should be able to make investors sit up and take notice.