Tips for Writing a Business Plan

You’re working on your business plan, great! Here are a few tips as you work.  

Research the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your business.  This process is known as a SWOT analysis. Strengths and weaknesses are internal to the company (think: patents, reputation, location). Whereas opportunities and threats are external (think: suppliers, competitors, trade barriers)—they are outside the company and your control. A SWOT analysis can help you better understand your business, identify your unique selling proposition and prepare for both positive and negative eventualities.

The plan should be easy to read. The plan is meant to be read and likely will be by a lender, investor, or just your future self. Whoever reads it, you want the document to be easy to read and understand.

Write the executive summary last.  The executive summary is a short recap of the entire plan, thus easier to write once all the information is known. The executive summary is also the most critical section, especially when looking for a loan.  It is the first, and sometimes only, part a potential lender reads.

The journey counts for more than you think.  It’s tempting to take an existing business plan from your industry, change a few things, and call it your own.  However much time that will save in the short term, it is the process of working through each section, debating each answer and getting to know each number on your spreadsheets that will really help your business succeed in the long term. Need an additional incentive?  If you’re looking for a loan, your potential lender will ask you questions about your business plan, so make sure you know it well!