Creating a business plan

Your business plan should be the foundation of everything you do as a business owner. They are valuable no matter where you are in the process – before you start, if you're already established, and even if you're planning on selling or closing your business.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a document that defines why you're in business, your goals, and how you will achieve them. It covers all major aspects of your business, including your financial plan, operations plan, marketing plan, and more.

Why do I need a business plan?

You need a business plan for two purposes: it's both your roadmap and your pitch.

Your business plan is your roadmap

Your business plan should guide all of your decisions as your business grows. You can refer back to it later to make sure your choices map to your strategy and goals.

Your business plan is your pitch

Your business plan is also for others. It helps potential investors, lenders, or suppliers understand how you will use their money. It should convince them that you are prepared and experienced enough to succeed. It should show them that you have the energy and dedication to write a detailed plan, and the communication skills to write and present it.

Your business plan is invaluable, no matter how new or established your business. Use your business plan to:

  • Guide your business activities
  • Get financing or investors
  • Plan for future growth
  • Identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
  • Track your performance
  • Plan your exit or succession from your business

When should I create a business plan?

Start as early as possible. Your final plan might be quite different from the first draft – your business plan will change and grow as you learn. Make sure you've researched and planned for all the important factors of starting a business, so you aren't caught off guard later.

How do I create a business plan?

You can get help creating your business plan from lots of sources – your local library, financial institutions, government agencies, and other business service providers. Start with these resources:

There is no "perfect" business plan. You just need one that will work for you and your idea. Some business plans are a few pages long, while others may be well over 50 pages or more.

What should I include in my business plan?

These are the most common topics you'll find in most business plans:

  • Executive Summary
  • Business Background
  • Industry/Market Analysis
  • Promotion/Marketing
  • Management
  • Operations
  • Environmental Issues
  • Financial Projections and Analysis
  • Risk and Mitigation
  • Opportunities for Growth
  • Exit Strategies
  • References
  • Appendices

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