Using a business plan template means getting a head start in the business plan writing process. You will save a significant amount of time in your preparation of the plan, but the challenges you face will be the same. In the end, the success of your business plan will depend on how logically it pieces together the market opportunity you identify with the means and methods you will use to take advantage of it.
Choosing the Right Template
Using a template successfully starts with choosing the right one. Look for a template geared towards the specific industry or sector you will compete within, but don’t neglect the fact that the creator of the template should be a reputable company who stands by their products and can speak to past success with them. If you have to choose between a sector-specific template and a template from a reputable company, opt for the latter every time.
The First Read Through
Start by reading through the template in its entirety to understand how the sections are laid out and what information falls where in the plan. If you jump right into writing before reading through, you will end up with redundancies or content in the wrong places, wasting valuable writing time. By reading through the plan you should have a good sense of the amount of work you will have to do on the various sections, and the key questions you will have to answer before you write.
A phase of research is next. You must you study the industry, your customers, competitors, best practices for operations, and the startup expenses you will encounter. Document your findings carefully and spend a healthy amount of time on each section before moving on.
Writing and Editing
Finally, write the narrative for the plan, going through your research and the company, brand, marketing, and operations strategies you will pursue. The financial model should not require rewriting, but will need some editing to bring startup costs, operating costs, and revenues in line with your projections. Read back through the entire plan to ensure that it is now specific to your business and situation. Finish with thorough proofreading, relying not just on your own eyes, but the help of someone else to spot troublesome wording or redundancies you may have missed.
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