What are the steps to follow when writing a business plan?

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A business plan is fundamental for the success of a company’s strategy and direction.  The business plan provides a cohesive overview on how the company operates. The following steps can be used as a guideline when preparing to write a business plan:

• Set the purpose of the business plan: The way a business plan is written depends on whom it's presented to.  For example, if it is meant to be presented to investors, it should be as metric driven as possible.

• Executive Summary: This section captures a snapshot of the business and gives the reader a brief overview of the company, core business, mission, and topics discussed in the business plan.  This is a key component in the business plan that must be well written, simple, and focused as it should excite the reader to read further into the business model. 

• Company Profile: This section should provide a detailed overview of the business, starting off with the history and how it all started. The company profile make should include the company’s mission and vision, a brief background about the founder, the company’s geographical reach, and any milestones that the company has achieved to date.

• Products and Services: This section describes in detail the products and services that the company offers and what problems it aims to solve.  In this section, it's also recommended to list the pricing of the products and services and the potential products that are planned to be introduced in the future.  

• Marketing Plan: Market research is an important factor to consider for a well-structured business plan. The findings of the market research should be included, as well as insights on the competition.  

• Operational Plan: This section reflects how the business executes the operations which deliver the product and services that the business offers.

• Management and Organization: Present how the business’s management, teams, and departments are organized. You can also include key positions that you plan to recruit.

• Financial Plan: A business must reflect how it plans to execute its operations and fund its growth through detailed financials and industry projections.  In this section, include the startup cost, balance sheet, financial history, break-even analysis, cash flow projections.  If the business is pitching to investors, present funding requirements and what these funds will be used for.

• Appendices: Include all referencing materials and required documentation such as contracts, licenses…etc.

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