Writing a business plan can feel like a truly daunting task. There are several good reasons to write a business plan, and these 8 tips will get you started:
- Keep your language as clear, concise and focused as possible. You do not need to use overblown language to write a great business plan.
- Give yourself enough time to write your business plan. It can take weeks or even months to write a good business plan. Don't expect to write a good business plan in a weekend. At the same time, if it's taking an extremely long time for you to finish the plan, assess the reasons why it’s taking so long and impose a schedule and some realistic deadlines on yourself.
- Business plans are typically 15 to 36 pages in length (not including the financial section and any appendices). Longer plans often don't hold the reader's attention, contain unnecessary information or are not written concisely. Shorter plans may not provide enough detail to fully examine the business.
- Within your business plan, examine challenges as well as strengths that are inherent in your business. It can be tempting to focus on all of the positive attributes and possibilities within your business; however, a credible business plan also assesses challenges that will arise and provides strategies to address those challenges.
- Bullet points, graphs and charts can be used effectively to highlight important points and make your plan more readable.
- Identify your target audience. Determine whether you are writing your plan to attract potential financial investors or to use the plan as an internal document to guide the growth and operation of your business. The contents of your plan will vary depending upon your target audience.
- Ensure your facts are accurate, and be able to justify any figures you include in your business plan. You may need to include estimates in some places, but be sure those are educated estimates that can be justified and attribute your facts to reputable sources.
- Divide the writing of the plan into a series of manageable tasks. Writing a business plan is a lot of work. Try not to think about everything at once. Instead, break each section into manageable tasks and focus on the task at hand.
The time invested in writing a good business plan can provide your business with a real advantage over the competition. You'll have a deeper understanding of your industry, your competition, your resource requirements, the focus and goals of your business and the strategies you'll use for meeting those goals.