A start up summary business plan includes the description of your products and services, the structure of your business, your target market, marketing strategy, funding requirements, financial projections, and licensing requirements, among others. It serves as a roadmap for your business.

A business plan helps you take a realistic view of your idea and double check whether it's really worth pursuing. It tells you what issues you may face down the line and how to tackle them.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

1. Find Out What Makes You Different

Analyze what sets you apart from your competition. How do you plan to differentiate your product? It could be the use of recycled material that promotes sustainable living, the contribution of a certain percentage of your revenue to charity, or some other factor that may help you build your brand. Think broadly about such differentiating factors before you get into the nitty-gritty of your research.

2. Keep It Short

Including lots of details only creates confusion and distraction. Keep your business plan short and concise by focusing only on important details - you can store the ancillary data elsewhere. For instance, while it may be helpful to include the major results of your market research, it's not necessary to include every detail of what your website would look like. While your business plan should not be written in a hurry, you should exclude from it everything that's not essential to the core plan.

3. Stay Flexible

Treat your business plan as a living document that will evolve with time. Always keep it updated with the latest changes. For example, if your business plan is already two years old and you are applying for a new funding, you should consider updating your business plan.

Steps to Writing a Business Plan

1. Answer Important Questions Regarding Your Business

Think of questions that may come to the minds of your customers and stakeholders about your business. Answer each question honestly in a sentence or two. You should be able to substantiate your beliefs with proper arguments.

Some of the important questions to answer may include the following:

  • What are the different types of products and services that you provide?
  • How do you source or provide your product or service?
  • How are customers expected to use your products and services?
  • What will be your source of immediate revenue?
  • What types of clients will you target immediately?
  • How will you market your business with your current resources?
  • What makes you different from your competitors?
  • Who are your secondary and tertiary clients that you plan to target after achieving success with your primary clients?

2. Prepare Checklists

Create checklists to measure the efficacy of your business plan. It will help you revise your plan as you continue to learn from your successes and failures. Break each part of your start up plan into actionable steps and add deadlines, wherever possible. List all the steps chronologically in the form of a checklist or task reminders.

3. Execute Your Plan

Start executing the action steps. Take down notes whenever there is something new to learn. On completion of each task, evaluate the results by answering the following questions:

  • What action steps worked as expected and what didn't?
  • What was the end result of each action step?
  • What was the overall experience? Was it positive or negative and why?
  • What new things did you learn?
  • Which action steps should be improved and how?
  • Which steps should be completely deleted?

You will make new discoveries while executing the action steps. Fine tune your plan accordingly for better results.

4. Revise the Draft

Based on the experience gathered during the execution of your checklist, determine what assumptions you made earlier are true and which of them are false or incomplete. Identify the loopholes in the existing steps and address them.

5. Update Your Plan

Do away with the steps that were a complete failure and improve on minor successes. Modify flawed assumptions to transform them into true statements. Use your learning to make your checklists more in-depth and effective. Keep doing this on a regular basis.

Getting all of your original assumptions right doesn't mean that success will be easy. Remember, it's just the beginning. Keep improving your checklist and prepare well-defined blueprints for different parts of your business - it will help you stay on top of the game.

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