by Ken Sethney, Kitsap SCORE
Writing a business plan is one of the important steps an entrepreneur needs to take before launching a new business. There is no shortage of people who feel that writing a business plan is an intimidating task. However, many business owners are likely to agree that their plan played a major role in their ability to launch and grow a profitable business.
A business plan isn’t about the document itself, it’s about the discovery process you use to create it.
Business plans can be tackled in a number of different ways, but all should go after the same result – to clearly demonstrate the viability of your business to generate revenue and turn a profit. Your plan needs to state the business case for the business itself, discuss marketplace, financials, SWOT analysis, and much more. It’s a lot to think about.
Too often owners decide to jump right in rather than take the time to properly plan. The benefits of planning – and the investment in the time it takes to write the plan – are invaluable in the end. Thinking through your start-up costs and revenue projections ahead of time, for example, will help you make the types of decisions that could be the difference between your business losing money or generating a profit.
When you’re ready to start your business plan, create manageable goals and hold yourself accountable for meeting deadlines.
The easiest way to get started is to create a task list with manageable goals and deadlines. Here are some tips to make writing a business plan less intimidating and easier to accomplish.
1. Don’t Attempt to Write Your Plan All at Once
Break up your plan into smaller sections and tackle each section one at a time. A great way to work through a business plan is to first create an outline. This will naturally create a guide for you to build from and keep your plan well-organized so you avoid feeling overwhelmed.
2. Schedule Time to Write
Schedule time to work on your plan. Get out your calendar and block out time each week to write. When you create a schedule and stick with it, you’ll complete your plan faster and be ready to launch sooner.
3. Use Technology and Other Resources to Your Advantage
There are plenty of online tools and templates available you can use as you start your business plan. Many are free. Using a template is a great way to create your plan’s outline and get started. SCORE offers a range of business planning templates that can give you a head start.
4. Get Feedback Along the Way
Ask trusted mentors and other partners to read through your plan as you go. They may offer suggestions on how to improve or clarify sections of the plan.
Writing a business plan can be an intimidating task. But, with the right approach and support, your plan will give you more clarity into and validation of your business concept than just about any other tool.
Developing a business plan takes consistent effort and dedication. You can make the writing and planning process easier and far less intimidating with a SCORE mentor by your side. A SCORE mentor will support you throughout the entire writing and planning process, provide you with actionable feedback along the way, and help you create a strong plan for your business. Contact a SCORE mentor today and get started.