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Don’t make anybody work to find what information is where in the plan. Use bullets as much as possible, and be careful with naked bullets for people who don’t really know the background. Nothing should be included that isn’t going to be used. Projections look like accounting statements, but they aren’t. A good business plan is the opposite of written in stone. List assumptions, because reviewing assumptions is the best way to figure out when to change the plan, and when to stick with the plan. Define strategy and tactics in short bullet point lists. Strategy is focus, key target markets, key product/service features, important differentiators, and so forth.
Cash flow is the single most important concept in business.
A business plan without cash flow is a marketing plan, strategic plan, summary, or something else—and those can be useful, but get your vocabulary right.
Market analysis hits one level for an internal plan, but often has to be proof of market, or validation, for a plan associated with investment.
Investment plans need to know something about exits; internal plans don’t. It has to be reviewed and revised regularly to be useful. They are just detailed enough to generate good information.
While every business plan will be unique, we’ve outlined below the necessary elements of any business plan.
You can also find great resources online, like a business plan template from the Small Business Administration. Determining what makes you and your organization special will make your business plan stronger, thus showing others why your organization will inevitably find its desired success.Other documentation that could appear in the Appendix includes technical drawings, partnership and/or customer letters, expanded competitor reviews and/or customer lists.Expertly and comprehensively discussing these components in their business plan helps entrepreneurs to better understand their business opportunity and assists them in convincing investors that the opportunity may be right for them too.The remaining five components of the plan focus mainly on strategy, primarily the marketing, operational, financial and management strategies that that firm will employ. Key components include the following: If you’d like to create a professional marketing plan quickly and easily, consider using a marketing plan template. These sections detail the internal strategies for building the venture from concept to reality, and include answers to the following questions: Financial Plan.The Financial Plan involves the development of the company’s revenue and profitability model.There’s a useful role for a business model, lean canvas, pitch deck and so on in some contexts, like raising investment. While it is a fact that all business plans are wrong, assumptions, drivers, deadlines, milestones, and such should be realistic, not crazy. Impossible goals and crazy forecasts make the whole thing a waste of time. Text and explanations are for outsiders, such as investors and bankers; however, a lot of companies ought to be using business planning to just run the business better.If you don’t need the extra information, leave it out.Whether the purpose of the plan is better management, accountability, setting stepping stones to the future, convincing somebody to invest, or something else, does it accomplish that? Realistically, it doesn’t matter whether your business plan is well-written, complete, well-formatted, creative, or intelligent.It only matters that it does the job it’s supposed to do. Dates, deadlines, major milestones, task responsibilities, sales forecasts, spending budgets, cash flow projections. Ask yourself how you’ll know, on a regular basis, how much progress you’ve made, and whether or not you’re on track.Somebody asked me what the key elements of a good business plan were, and I’m glad they did—it’s one of my favorite topics.It gives me a chance to review and revise another of the lists that I’ve done off and on for years (such as the one from yesterday, on common business plan mistakes). Like everything else in business, business plans have business objectives.