7 Steps to Create a Comprehensive Business Plan

Creating an effective business plan is essential for any business. Follow these seven steps to create a comprehensive business plan that will serve as a living document.

7 Steps to Create a Comprehensive Business Plan

Creating a business plan is essential for any business, whether it's a new venture or an existing one. It's a way to assess the company's needs, objectives, strengths and challenges, as well as its progress over the next few years. A well-developed plan should include information about the company, such as its products, marketing initiatives and team organization, as well as information about the business owner, such as their financial background and their role in the execution of the business plan. To make sure your plan is comprehensive and effective, follow these seven steps.

Step 1: Executive Summary

The executive summary is the first section of your business plan and should provide a concise overview of your company.

It should include what your company is, does and offers in a few paragraphs. Emphasize how your company benefits customers and focus on why your particular service or product will satisfy a need for your target customers.

Step 2: Research and Analysis

Research and critical analysis are essential to properly develop and communicate a business plan. The information used must be relevant, valuable and objective. However, you're not writing a novel, so the presentation should also be concise.

That means choosing the right research to include rather than just a dump of ideas about the company's situation.

Step 3: Company Description

The description of your company should also define the structure of your company, such as a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a corporation, and include the percentage of ownership that each owner has and the degree of participation of each owner in the company.

Step 4: Products or Services

Describe in detail what products or services you offer. Explain how they are different from those offered by competitors and why customers should choose your products or services.

Step 5: Market Analysis

Analyze your target market by researching customer demographics, preferences, needs and buying habits. Identify potential competitors and analyze their strengths and weaknesses. Explain how you will position your products or services in the market.Step 6: Financial Plan
If you're starting a new business, include information about start-up costs such as equipment leases, permits, licenses and bank statements.

If you already have a business, include income or loss statements, balance sheets that list assets and debts, and cash flow statements that show how cash flows in and out of the company.Step 7: Supporting Documents
List any supporting information or additional material that you cannot include anywhere else, such as key employee resumes, licenses, equipment leases, permits, patents, receipts, bank statements, contracts, and personal and business credit history.