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  1. How to Create a Winning Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Create a Winning Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

Jonathan Feniak, Esq., MBA

By Jonathan Feniak, Esq., MBA

    A business plan is an outline of what your business will do, who your target audience is, and how you intend to reach your goals and turn a profit. Having a good business plan is crucial to help you organize your efforts, make sure all of your bases are covered, and maximize your odds of success. Taking the time to write a well-thought-out business plan can also help you to attract funding for your new venture.

    Create an Executive Summary

    This section will act as your elevator pitch, and it should include three things:

    1. A concise mission statement
    2. A brief description of your business's services or products
    3. An overview of your plans for growing the business

    While this section is the first thing your readers will see, it's prudent to write it last, as you'll be able to highlight valuable information you have identified while crafting the other sections.

    Describe Your Business

    As you describe your business, start with your company's registered name and its location. Next, include the names of all of the relevant people in your business, making sure to highlight any technical expertise or unique skills among them. Other important elements to include here are your business structure, each owner's ownership percentage, and the extent of their involvement in the business. You should also add some information about the history of your business and where it stands at the moment.

    Outline Your Goals

    This section should state exactly what you want to achieve in the near term and long term. If you're looking for financing, you should also use this section to talk about how the money you're asking for will propel the growth of your business and how you plan to go about making that happen.

    Describe Your Products and Services

    This is where you talk about how your products or services work and your pricing model. You should also explain who your target customers are and outline your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy. This is also a good place to mention any relevant patents or trademarks you own or have filed for.

    Add Market Research Details

    Just creating a good product or service isn't enough: You also need to explore how you'll set yourself apart from the competition. Research your market well, and include information here about what you found, including who your competitors are, what their strengths are, and how you'll outshine them.

    Create a Good Marketing Plan

    Next, you'll want to discuss how you plan to market your business to potential customers and how you'll promote customer loyalty. Talk about your marketing and distribution strategies, and include the costs you'll likely incur when selling your products.

    Include Current Financial Information About Your Business

    If you're creating an updated plan for an existing business, you should have plenty of data to illustrate how your business is doing financially, including profit-and-loss statements, your cash flow statement, and your balance sheet. It's a good idea to include charts and graphs in this section in order to make all of this data easier to digest, painting a clearer picture of your business's overall financial health.

    Add Your Financial Projections

    This section outlines how your company will generate enough money to repay the loan you're seeking or how you'll ensure that your investors earn a decent profit. Estimate what the next three years of your business's quarterly sales, expenses, and profits will look like, factoring the funding you're seeking into your calculations. If you have past data to draw from, examine it carefully to make sure that your projections are realistic.

    Summarize the Operating Structure of Your Business

    Note the type of business structure you are using, then provide an overview of how responsibilities are delegated within your business, including the key figures who are running different parts of the company. If any of these people have specialized expertise that makes them stand out, consider mentioning that here to show how their expertise gives your business an advantage.

    Add an Appendix

    Add any other supporting materials you have that didn't neatly fit into another section in an appendix at the end. This could include patents, permits, contracts, and/or details about the credit history of your business.

    Additional Resources