How do you go about creating the perfect business plan? This 10-step guide to writing a business plan template will walk you through the process, from defining your goals and audience to setting up your metrics, as well as help you create an easy-to-follow outline. Even if you’re just starting out, you can use this article as an outline for what your own business plan should contain. Ready to get started? Let’s dive right in!
What is your business plan for?
Writing a business plan is an effective way of getting your idea off the ground. Even if you have no intention of showing it to anybody, writing out your business plan helps you clarify what your goals are and what steps you need to take to accomplish them. The better you define these things at an early stage, the less likely you are to wander down unproductive paths. If you do end up writing out your entire business plan and publishing it online, make sure that it contains only information related to small businesses or business plans. Don’t use it as an opportunity for self-promotion by including lots of extraneous material about yourself (you’ll just end up limiting what people can find when they search for resources about creating a business). Also: no typos!
List your business goals
Before you begin writing your business plan, it’s important to think about what it is you want to achieve. If you don’t have clear goals in mind, then how can you know if your business is successful? Listing down your personal and professional goals will help give direction and meaning to your business ideas. So, before jumping in—think about where it is that you want your business (and ultimately yourself) to go.
What does success look like?
Successful businesses are successful because they have clear goals. What do you want your business to accomplish? Before you start writing your business plan, it’s important that you think through what your success looks like. Then, after writing your business plan, it’s important that you revisit those goals regularly as things change. There will be times when you need to readjust and adjust based on new information or external factors; it’s just part of running a business—and part of staying successful.
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Create a mission statement for your business
The mission statement is your reason for being. Creating one forces you to answer some tough questions about your business, so do not underestimate its importance. Good business decisions can never be made in a vacuum and they certainly won’t be made without an effective mission statement guiding you. This definition is by Mr. Small Business himself: A mission statement tells people what you do, who it benefits, and why it’s important…A good mission statement is so clear that it provides an easy explanation of what you do that people can repeat back to others in conversation.  You should write your business’s purpose down and keep it on hand for future use (not as your actual plan).
Create business vision statements
The business vision statement is used to articulate why you’re starting your business. While it can be as simple as to make money, be sure it paints a clear picture of what you plan on doing, and how you’ll do it. The vision statement should include your values and beliefs about running your business, and convey who you are and what you believe in. It’s ideal if everyone who plans on working with you agrees with these aspects of your business philosophy. A solid vision statement will help build trust, credibility, and loyalty among employees and customers alike.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
If you’re a business owner, then you should think about where your business is going. You need to make sure that your short-term and long-term goals align with what you want for your business in five years. This is important because you don’t want to end up achieving one goal only to realize it isn’t what you wanted in five years. Ask yourself: What does success look like? What do I want from my business? How can I best achieve my long-term goals? And when are things going to happen? The answers are as unique as each business, but if you don’t know what they are, how will you work towards them?
What resources do you need to start?
There are plenty of resources available when you’re writing your business plan. You can even use our free business plan template to start writing your business plans. If you need any help with that, we also have small business consultants who can help with anything from researching how much it will cost to open your store, writing a marketing plan, or whatever else you need.
Why are you qualified?
I’m an entrepreneur who has started and run several small businesses. I love helping people and making sure that my advice is as useful as possible for all of you out there. Writing about business planning allows me to do both of those things and I hope that you find my guide helpful. Please feel free to send any questions my way!
How will you set up your finances?
Have you considered how you will set up your finances? The first question to ask yourself is if you are going to try for an SBA loan. SBA loans are guaranteed by the government and have more favorable interest rates than other traditional forms of financing. With an SBA loan, there’s no collateral needed, which means you can get approved even if you don’t have enough money saved up for a down payment. If possible, it is best to talk with an accountant who can help guide your business through tax season. This way, all of your paperwork will be in order when it comes time for taxes and refunds.
How will you measure success?
It’s important to know how you will measure your success when writing your business plan. This is something that investors and potential partners will want to know about. It also helps if you have a clear definition of what success means for your business—it can be difficult, otherwise, for others in your life or family members that care about you and your idea (and might not always agree with it) to understand what success means. Success doesn’t mean different things for everyone, but it needs to be defined so you can recognize it when you reach it! Here are some examples: revenue goals; the number of customers; social good goals; impact on society; etc. What do these mean? How will they be measured?