Start by defining your business objectives; think about who is going to read the plan. Your objectives can help you decide how much emphasis to put on various sections of your plan. You will need to do some research in order to find out more about your industry, potential customers, competitors, sales and costs of doing business. A business plan is only as good as the research that went into producing it.
Your plan must reflect your objectives and should flow like a good story, with the sections working together to demonstrate why the business will be successful. Don’t rely too much on sample business plans. Plans that borrow too much information from samples or other business plans tend to be disjointed, with some sections contradicting others and some key issues being overlooked.
For many readers, the financial section is the most important part of the business plan, because it identifies your financing needs and shows the profit potential of your business. A good financial plan will also give the reader confidence that you understand your business. Be sure to test how reasonable each of your expectations are. If you are overly optimistic or fail to take into account the full costs of running your business, your business plan will not be credible.
Along with the financial section, your executive summary is an important part of your business plan. People will read it first and for some it may be the only section that is read. The keys to a good summary are that it should be short (two pages at most), it should highlight what is important in your plan and it should get the reader excited about your business.
To help get your business plan started, visit our business planning resources webpage, where you can find a business plan checklist, online templates, and research tools.
You may also be interested in attending our Business Planning Guide Workshop. Review our events calendar.
Our Business Advisors can review your plan at any stage, make suggestions, and direct you to the appropriate resources. Please complete a Request for Service Form to connect with an advisor for business plan assistance.