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Writing a Business Plan


Writing a business plan is an essential part of building a successful business. At its core, a business plan is a road map for your project: it establishes your purpose, it sets goals and expectations, and it forecasts the relationship between cost and revenue. 

There are many ways to structure a business plan, but ultimately, you are seeking to answer the same basic set of questions—either for yourself, your team or an outside investor. The following questions adapted from The Wharton School Entrepreneurship Workshop “Business Plan Writing 101”, serves as a good starting point:

  • What is the business?
  • How does it work?
  • Who is the team?
  • What is the market?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • What is the market strategy?
  • What are the numbers?
  • What do you need?

A business plan does not have to be formal in order to be effective. There are valuable insights to be gained whether you answer each of the questions above in a few sentences or with pages of in-depth research. Business plans are adaptable, and you will find that the level of detail you include will change depending on what stage of business development you are in.

The process of writing a business plan can be a helpful tool at multiple points along your entrepreneurial journey. The best time to write a business plan is any time you can benefit from more focus and direction. 

The first step in a business plan is translating an idea into something concrete that you can act on. When you start to answer some basic questions about how your business will make money, you might find that your original idea has some weaknesses. Writing a business plan in the idea phase gives you an opportunity to address any overlooked areas before committing serious time and money to your new venture. After completing the idea phase, you should be able to identify what you need in order to get started.

During the second step, the launch phase, you will be communicating your business idea repeatedly to others. You might be assembling a team, hiring employees, registering your business, or applying for grants or loans. In each of those situations, your idea will be challenged by others. Research your industry and learn about your potential customers. Forecast costs and revenues as realistically as possible. Explore different business models and determine a pricing strategy. The more you know about your business, the easier it will be to communicate your passion with others and get what you need in order to be successful.

In the final step, the growth phase, you may discover an opportunity to grow or expand your business. Rereading your business plan will remind you of the goals you established when you were first starting out and acknowledges the progress you have made. This information helps you make decisions that are in alignment with your original purpose. Revising and modifying your business plan allows you to grow in a strategic way and to include any areas that were missing from previous iterations. If your team is growing, sharing your business plan with your employees is an excellent way to connect them to your mission.

Whether your business is a fragment of an idea or already up and running, writing a business plan is a versatile and powerful tool that will help you run your business thoughtfully and successfully.


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