Business Plan 101: In the Beginning

In the beginning your business plan needs to knock the socks off the reader in the very first few pages. These pages are critical to the delivery of the rest of the plan. So what goes into these pages you ask? Lets break them down for you to be used for future reference.

Index page

Learn how to set up and use the index facility on your word processor. Make this look good and easy to use. Most people who will read your plan will turn here to check the contents and then flip to the page most relevant to them. Make sure the index is well spaced and aligned, do not estimate the alignment using the space bar, this is a business not some modern art expo.

Declaration

Use this page, if required to state any personal or intellectual property declaration that may be relevant. I have not seen many of these that actually meant anything, so my advice would be leave this out.

Executive Summary

This is your one pager, the elevator pitch for your business. Please understand that this needs to be written last, even after the index. Sum up the main purpose of the business in one page. State the issues you have identified, the solution to this problem, your product or service, proof that it works and plans to roll it out. In one page, any longer than that and people will not read it.

Overview

This is a précis of the whole plan. The best way to do this is to keep all your major headings and just write one or two sentences about each in this section. Do not make this longer than 2 or 3 pages. Remember 80% of people will never read further than this, other than look at the financials, so make it good and clean. It goes without saying that this is also done after the rest of the plan, just before the executive summary.

Next week we get into the meat of the plan.

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