How to write a business plan
The structure and detail of your business plan will depend on what you intend to do with it – the important thing is to have a plan that works for you.
Every business is unique and your business plan needs to be structured to suit the needs of your business. There is no right or wrong way to structure a business plan – each differs in presentation and emphasis. The particular requirements of your business need to be taken into account, as well as the purpose for which the plan is being prepared.
Our Business Plan Checklist and Business Plan template will help you get started.
If you are preparing a business plan for a loan, it is recommended that you check with your financial institution if they have particular requirements. Most financial institutions will be able to provide a template that suits their needs.
Developing a business plan takes time. Rather than thinking you can or should write your plan in a single sitting, consider it a process that you should undertake over a period of time, usually months. This will give you the opportunity to develop your ideas and strategies and to identify and resolve problems.
As you put your business plan together, keep in mind the following tips:
- Determine the objectives of your plan
- Decide what information must be presented in the plan, e.g. if finance is required, include sufficient information to enable the financier to make an informed decision
- Determine in advance to whom you will be presenting the plan – knowing the reader(s) will help you decide on the detail required, its length and emphasis
- Use tables, charts and graphs to present data where possible
- Make a good first impression – incorrect spelling, grammar, punctuation, numbers that do not add up and a poorly organised plan all detract from the impact of the document
- Keep paragraphs and sentences short
- Avoid jargon – don't use language that only an expert could understand
- Don't make vague or unsubstantiated claims or statements
- Arrange to have your business plan bound in a business-like (not 'slick') presentation
- Include an executive summary up-front but write it last
- Be succinct. Quantity does not equal quality – a well-written plan should say it all in 20 to 30 pages
- Use consultants where required to assist you to prepare the plan but not prepare it for you – it should always be your plan, you should understand it fully and be committed to it
The following Guide and Template will assist you further.