The Business Planning Process:
5 Steps To Creating a New Plan
Detailed research into the industry, customers, competitors, and costs of the business begins the process. A variety of resources can be used for research, ranging from databases and articles to direct interviews with other entrepreneurs or potential customers. Research should be documented and organized carefully with the information gathered and the source as there is a need to cite sources within the plan.
Next, the information from the research should inform the strategy you choose for your business. Revisit the strategy you created even before your research and dig deeper into decisions on appropriate marketing, operations, and hiring for the first five years of the company's life. Strategy generally pulls from the best practices of the industry, but uses this only as a foundation on which to add very different activities that create a competitive advantage.
All of the activities you choose for your strategy come as some cost and (hopefully) lead to some revenues. Sketch out the financial situation by looking at whether you can expect revenues to cover all costs and leave room for profit in the long run. Begin to insert your financial assumptions and startup costs into a financial model which can produce a first year cash flow statement for you, giving you the best sense of the cash you will need on hand to fund your early operations.
With financials more or less settled and a strategy decided, it is time to draft through the narrative of the plan's many sections. With the background work you have completed, the drafting itself should be a relatively painless process. If you have trouble creating convincing prose, this is a time to seek the help of a business plan writer who can put together the plan from this point.
Revise and Proofread
Revisit the entire plan to look for any ideas or wording that is confusing, redundant, or irrelevant to the points you are making within the plan. Finally, proofread thoroughly for spelling, grammar, and formatting, enlisting the help of others to act as additional sets of eyes. You may begin to experience burnout from working on the plan for so long and have a need to set it aside for a bit to look at it again with fresh eyes.
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