Preparing Your Business Plan
Whether you are writing your business plan for the
first time or rewriting it for the twentieth, there are certain steps
you can follow in order to make the process easier.
- Step 1 - Identify your objectives. The first step in preparing your business plan is to
determine who your audience is going to be and what they want to know
about your company. Then, you must determine what you want your
audience to know. What are the areas you want to emphasize? What are
the ones you want to downplay or eliminate? Once you have resolved any
conflicts between these two viewpoints, you are ready to move to Step
- Step 2 - Outline your business plan. Now that you have identified your objectives, you can begin
preparing an outline of your business plan based on these special
requirements. An outline can be as general or as specific as you would
like. However, the more specific it is, the easier the writing process
- Step 3 - Review your outline. The next step is to review your outline. Based on your
readers and your objectives, identify the areas that should be
presented in detail or summary form in your business plan. Remember
that your business plan should maintain a fairly high-level focus. Any
detail information can be included in the appendix section of your
business plan or on a request basis.
- Step 4 - Write your plan. Depending on the age of your business and your experience
writing business plans, the order in which you develop the specific
elements of your business plan will vary.
- Gather information.
Most people will begin by gathering historical financial information
and market research information first. You will use this information to
make many of the basic assumptions and strategies that you will include
in your plan.
- Prepare drafts.
The next step in writing your business plan is to prepare initial
drafts of your prospective financial statements. Your financial
statements will help you determine which strategies are "doable" from a
financial perspective before you spend time and energy writing detailed
descriptions of each area.
- Write summary.
The last step in writing your business plan is to prepare an Executive
Summary. Even though this document comes at the beginning of your
business plan, it is written last because it includes a summarization
of all of the other sections.
- Step 5 - Have your plan reviewed. Since it is often difficult to be critical of your own
creation, you will want to have someone who is familiar with the
planning process and business management review your business plan for
completeness, logic, effectiveness as a communication tool, and
presentation. Then, make any necessary revisions based on the person's
Remember that it is important to update your business
plan on a regular basis or it will become useless.
(Online Women's Business
Center, Dallas, TX, 5/97)
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