(Shared by Jennifer Dunn, Program Assistant, Endeavor Center, OSU South Centers)
This article is part of both our Business Startup Guide and our Business Planning Guide—curated lists of our articles that will get you up and running in no time!
If you’ve reviewed what a business plan is, and why you need one to start and grow your business, then it’s time to dig into the process of actually writing a business plan.
In this step-by-step guide, I’ll take you through every stage of writing a business plan that will actually help you achieve your goals. And, if you’re just looking for a downloadable template to get you started, you can skip ahead and download it now.
Whether you’re trying to raise money for your business or are developing a plan for strategic growth, a solid business plan is a key component to every successful business.
1. Keep it short.
Business plans should be short and concise.
The reasoning for that is twofold:
1.First, you want your business plan to be read (and no one is going to read a 100-page or even 40-page business plan).
2.Second, your business plan should be a tool you use to run and grow your business, something you continue to use and refine over time. An excessively long business plan is a huge hassle to deal with and guarantees that your plan will be relegated to a desk drawer, never to be seen again.
2. Know your audience.
Write your plan using language that your audience will understand.
For example, if your company is developing a complex scientific process, but your prospective investors aren’t scientists (and don’t understand all the detailed scientific terminology you want to use), you need to adapt.
Instead of this:
“Our patent-pending technology is a one-connection add-on to existing bCPAP setups. When attached to a bCPAP setup, our product provides non-invasive dual pressure ventilation.”
“Our patent-pending product is a no power, easy-to-use device that replaces traditional ventilator machines used in hospitals at 1/100th the cost.”
Accommodate your investors, and keep explanations of your product simple and direct, using terms that everyone can understand. You can always use the appendix of your plan to provide more specific details.
3. Don’t be intimidated.
The vast majority of business owners and entrepreneurs aren’t business experts. Just like you, they’re learning as they go and don’t have degrees in business.
Writing a business plan may seem like a difficult hurdle, but it doesn’t have to be. If you know your business and are passionate about it, writing a business plan and then leveraging your plan for growth will be not nearly as challenging as you think.
And, you don’t have to start with a full, detailed business plan that I’m going to describe here. In fact, it can be much easier to start with a simple, one-page business plan—what we call a Lean Plan—and then come back and build a detailed business plan later.