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Your Business Plan Gameplan

Write a Business Plan in Three Months

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The business plan -- it's where you define your vision and chart your plan of attack. It's also an essential item in raising money from investors. You need one -- and with the following timeline and structure, you can write a business plan in three months or less.  

Executive Summary

Your Executive Summary should run 1-2 pages and touch on the key items from the rest of the business plan. It's mean to be scannable, so use short sentences and paragraphs.

What you need to define:

  • What makes your business unique
  • A general overview of everything in the business plan

Tip: Write this after you've written everything else.

How much time to budget: Two days

Company Description

In the company description, you'll have the chance to do a more involved description of your goals, your unique selling proposition, the size of your operation, and your financing requirements.

What you need to define:

  • The concept of your business
  • Where you'll be located
  • How large your operation will be
  • Why you are likely to be profitable
  • A detailed description of your product(s) or service(s)
  • Your legal structure (LLP, sole proprietorship, C Corp, etc)
  • The history of your business
  • Your financing requirements, including an overview of the costs of starting up

How much time to budget: Four days

Market and Competitive Analysis

In the Market and Competitive Analysis, you'll delve into the intricacies of your target market.

What you need to define:

  • The size, characteristics and demographic breakdown of the target market for your business
  • How large of a share of the market you are likely to capture and your opportunity for growth
  • Your target audience and their defining characteristics
  • Your competitors
  • A SWOT Analysis of your company: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats

How much time to budget: Three weeks

Marketing Strategy

How will you attract the attention of your market? Define this in the marketing strategy section of your business plan.

What you need to define:

  • Your "unique selling proposition": a combination of your products benefits, price and position relative to others on the market.
  • Pricing strategy: how much people will pay for your product or service.
  • Sales and distribution plan: how you will get your product to a willing market.
  • Advertising and Promotions plan: where you will advertise and to whom.

Tip: make sure this information reconciles with your financial projections.

How much time to budget: Two weeks

Operational Overview

The Operational Overview will help you define the nitty-gritty of how your business will be run day-to-day.

Things to define:

  • Personal and labor requirements
  • Space requirements
  • Zoning requirements (if applicable)

How much time to budget: Three weeks

Management Summary

Who will be involved in the running of your business? Beyond your bio, the management summary paints a picture of your key organizational players.

Things to define:

  • Owner/CEO bio
  • Job descriptions - experience required, salaries, and resumes of key players
  • Org chart

How much time to budget: One week

Financial Projection

Your Financial Projection is one of the most important part of the business plan. This is where the rubber meets the road in terms of the feasibility of your business and thus is where potential investors will flip to first when evaluating your business plan.

Financial projections are comprised of three items:

  • Expenses: both your startup costs and general operating expenses.
  • Cash flow statements: a breakdown of all cash in and cash out for a set period of time (usually two to five years).
  • Balance sheet: all of your current assets and liabilities.

How much time to budget: Three weeks

Appendix: Use the appendix to include the resumes of key players, as well as your financial projection spreadsheets.

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