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Writing a Business Plan

By Linda Christie
Posted Saturday, September 11, 2004

Excerpt from Rx: Complete Guide to Business and Technical Writing
by Linda Gail Christie, Executive Editor

A business plan is a tool with three basic purposes: communication, management, and planning.

As a communication tool, it is used to attract investment capital, secure loans, convince workers to hire on, and assist in attracting strategic business partners. The development of a comprehensive business plan shows whether or not a business has the potential to make a profit. It requires a realistic look at almost every phase of business and allows you to show that you have worked out all the problems and decided on potential alternatives before actually launching your business.

As a management tool, the business plan helps you track, monitor and evaluate your progress. The business plan is a living document that you will modify as you gain knowledge and experience. By using your business plan to establish timelines and milestones, you can gauge your progress and compare your projections to actual accomplishments.

As a planning tool, the business plan guides you through the various phases of your business. A thoughtful plan will help identify roadblocks and obstacles so that you can avoid them and establish alternatives. Many business owners share their business plans with their employees to foster a broader understanding of where the business is going.

Before you begin writing your business plan, consider four core questions:

What service or product does your business provide and what needs does it fill?

Who are the potential customers for your product or service and why will they purchase it from you?

How will you reach your potential customers?

Where will you get the financial resources to start your business?


Cover Sheet

Executive Summary
Keys to Success

Table of Contents

The Business

Description of business
History or start-up plan
Product/Technology and Service Description

Management Summary

Organizational Structure
Management Team
Management Team Gaps
Personnel Plan

Marketing and Sales

Competitive Comparison
Buying Patterns
Main Competitors


Future Products and Services
Patents and Intellectual Property

Market Analysis Summary

Market Needs
Market Trends
Market Growth

Industry Analysis

Industry Participants
Distribution Channels

Marketing Strategy

Positioning Statements
Pricing Strategy
Promotion Strategy
Distribution Patterns
Marketing Programs
Website Marketing Strategy

Sales Strategy

Sales Forecast
Sales Programs
Strategic Alliances

Financial Information

. Current financing
Stock Sales

.Current Assets
Capital equipment and supply list
Patents and technologies

.Important Assumptions
Key Financial Indicators
Balance Sheet
Breakeven Analysis/ROI
Pro-Forma Income Projections (profit & loss statements)
Three-Year Summary
. Detail by month, first year
. Detail by quarters, second and third years
Assumptions upon which projections were based
Pro-forma cash flow

Supporting Documents
Marketing study(s)
Copy of resumes of all principals
Financial Information for principals
Copy of franchise contract (for franchised businesses, plus all supporting documents provided by the franchisor)
Copy of proposed lease or purchase agreement for building space
Copy of licenses and other legal documents
Copies of letters of intent from suppliers, etc.

About the Author
Linda Christie
Cell: 402-203-0684 (CST)


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