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How To Build A Great Business Plan – Checklist 2020

by Nemanja Zunic, founder and CEO of IdeaBuddy

“A goal without a plan is just a wish!”  

Every successful business idea had a strategically written business plan. To provide direction of business development or just to attract investors, a business plan is a roadmap toward a company’s success. 

But where to start with writing a great business plan?

Start with high motivation, and don’t be afraid of the struggle ahead. Keep in mind these rules all the way through writing your business plan. 

3 Rules that make business plan writing easier:

  1. Keep it short and concise
  2. Identify your audience and their needs
  3. Don’t be intimidated by the competition

Writing a business plan doesn’t need to be complicated if you know what you need to do. In this checklist guide, you will see how quickly and easily you can write a business plan to get the outcome you want. And keep in mind that to write a great business plan, you don’t need a business degree or business plan writing background. 

This checklist guide will show you how to get your plan done, step-by-step, without unnecessary complexity and frustration. 

Business plan format.

If you prefer a traditional business plan format, you should be very detail-oriented. 

That doesn’t mean you need to stick to the exact business plan framework. 

Rather, use the segments that make the most sense for your business niche and your audience needs. Most of the business plans use some combination of these six segments, including all aspects needed for the comprehensive business plan. 

So let’s dive into this checklist guide! 

Business Plan Checklist.

✓ Executive summary.

The executive summary segment of the business plan is a detailed overview of your business strategies and plans. It is the first chapter in your plan, and it should sum up all your ideas into a concise plan on one to two pages at most. Unfortunately, most people write it last, which can be a problem because it is a roadmap through your business plan writing. Therefore, it is crucial for business plan development as a guide. 

The Executive summary chapter includes:

  • Mission statement
  • Company culture
  • Employees
  • Location
  • Financial information
  • Growth plans

Tip: Don’t forget to include a high-detail financial data plan and if you intend to attract investors. 

✓ Opportunity.

Look at the Opportunity chapter of your business plan as a place where plans meet market needs. It must include detailed information about the problem your product or service is solving.  

Opportunity chapter needs to answers certain questions: 

  • What are you selling, product or service?
  • What market needs your product or service fills? 
  • What is your target market?
  • Who is your competition? 

Tip: Use this section of your business plan to describe what sets you apart from your competition. And what strategies you want to perform to expand your business offer in the future.

✓ Execution.

Execution chapter of your business plan needs to answer the question: How will you take your opportunity and turn it into a successful business outcome? Also, the Execution chapter will cover your marketing and sales plan, marketing operations, milestones and metrics.   

Execution chapter includes:

  • Marketing and Sales plan
  • Positioning statement
  • Pricing
  • Promotion
  • Advertising

✓ Company and management summary.

If you want to attract investors, in addition to a great idea, you need to have a great team. The Company and management chapter describes your current team members and who you need to hire to improve your business in the future.

Tip: Implement a quick overview of your business’s legal structure and history if your business is already running. 

✓ Financial plan.

The great business plan isn’t complete without a detailed financial estimation. What do you need to include in your financial plan?

Start with a segment that is most valuable for your business financial stability that includes:

  • Sales forecast
  • Cash flow statement
  • Income statement (Profit and Loss)
  • Balance sheet 

✓ Appendix.

Have in mind that an Appendix to your business plan isn’t a required chapter. It can be a useful section to attach any charts, tables, legal notes, illustrations of your product. 

Tip: It can be a valuable information addition for investors. They can see all the research and documents that can empower your business plan statements. 

Pro Tip: Lean Startup Format.

To explain or start your business quickly, you can consider a Lean startup business plan format. If your business plan is relatively simple or you need a quick draft for a business pitch with investors – a Lean startup format is ideal! 

Lean startup format is a simple chart that uses only necessary details to describe your business infrastructure, customers, value proposition, and finances plans.  

Final Check.

Primary, you will use a business plan to attract investors and as a business roadmap, but never forget that your business plan aims to convince you that your idea is worth all the 24/7 struggle! 

Because in the end, it’s your time – and your effort on the line.

If you have any comments, please drop us a line!  

 

Nemanja Zunic is the founder and CEO of IdeaBuddy, an innovative business planning and modeling software that helps aspiring entrepreneurs and startup owners to develop their ideas and turn their passion projects into a successful business.

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