Whether you’re a seasoned business owner or just beginning to think about starting a business, demands come at you fast. Amidst the rush of to-do lists and meetings, determining how to write a business plan—much less following a business plan template—often feels time-consuming and intimidating.
But nearly 70% of business owners who have been there and done that recommend writing a business plan before you start a business, according to a recent QuickBooks survey. After all, when done right, business plans have enormous payoffs and benefits.
And yet, more than 10% of prospective business owners said they do not intend to write a business plan. Another 10% aren’t sure if they need a plan.
It’s more than the old cliche: A failure to plan is a plan to fail. In fact, a wealth of data now exists on the difference a written business plan makes, especially for small or growing companies.
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to write a successful business plan step-by-step, and turn your idea into a reality. Even better, if you’re pressed for time, we’ve compiled the 10 steps and examples into a downloadable (PDF) template. The 10 steps to write a business plan are:
- Create an executive summary
- Compose your company description
- Summarise market research and potential
- Conduct competitive analysis
- Describe your product or service
- Develop a marketing and sales strategy
- Compile your business financials
- Describe your organisation and management
- Explain your funding request
- Compile an appendix for official documents
But, first things first.
What is a business plan?
A business plan is a comprehensive road map for your small business’s growth, development, and its way forward. It communicates who you are, what you plan to do, and how you plan to do it. It also helps you attract talent and investors.
But remember that a business idea or business concept is not a plan.