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Five Ways You Can Make Writing a Business Plan Less Intimidating

A business plan is important for starting your business and is an indispensable tool for helping you obtain funding from outside sources. Whether seeking a loan or bringing on outside investors, nearly everyone will want to see your business plan. Moreover your business plan becomes your roadmap for operating your company. It will help you manage and grow your business.

But writing a business plan can seem like a daunting task. It requires time, careful thought, research, and patience as you define your business’s critical success factors and goals. So here are a few tips to help you get through the process.

  1. Start simple and add as you go.
    If you tackle it in smaller bits and pieces, the project will be more manageable. Even short one-page business plans have purpose and can affect success.

    The length of your business plan can depend on the complexity and scale of your business.  It will also depend on who will see it. If applying for a sizable loan or looking for sophisticated outside investors, a highly detailed business plan that spells out lots of specifics about business concept, marketplace, and financials will be required. But if you are looking for funds from friends, family or some of the newer lending sources that make small loans, something simpler may be in order.

    Starting simple and adding details as you go allows you to tailor the plan to the audience. As you identify what type of funding you will pursue, you will be better prepared to determine how the business plan should carry your message to that audience. It will also reduce the upfront work and allow you to add new information as your business takes shape.
     

  2. Use technology and resources to your advantage.
    Using business plan templates and software can save time. Consider using SBA’s online Business Plan Tool and the full range of free business planning tools and templates that SCORE offers.

    Remember that these templates are created to address a wide range of businesses. Feel free to modify the plan and even abridge sections that aren’t as pertinent to your business.  Some people we talk to get bogged down in the early stages trying to answer questions on templates that aren’t very applicable to their business. Better to move on and get a “first draft” that addresses the key messages and important issues facing your business, then tune it from there.
     

  3. It’s not just the finished document, it’s the journey.
    The value of a business plan isn’t only in the document you create, but the discovery process you embark upon to create it. As you work on your business plan, you answer key questions about your business that you may not have otherwise considered. That can help you recognize risks and opportunities—and better position you for success.
     
  4. Schedule time to work on it.
    Plan time to work on your business plan. You’ll feel less stressed about it if you reserve time on your calendar to dedicate to it.
     
  5. Get feedback along the way.
    As you work on the different sections of your business plan, ask a SCORE mentor or other unbiased business professional to review it and provide suggestions for improvement and clarity.

Even though writing a business plan will require effort, you can make it a manageable experience by following common sense and the tips shared here. With a business plan, you’ll be better able to move your business in the right direction from the start and navigate changes more easily in the future.

For more than 50 years, SCORE has helped more than 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through mentoring and business workshops. More than 11,000 volunteer business mentors in over 320 chapters serve their communities. For help with starting or operating a small business, visit SCORE at www.score.org or call 1-800-634-0245.

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About the Author(s)

Jeff Bodenstab is a Providence, Rhode Island-based SCORE mentor and recently retired marketing executive, board member and co-founder with a career of helping build young businesses into larger enterprises.

5 Ways You Can Make Writing a Business Plan Less Intimidating