Do your research. In order to be able to write a strong, comprehensive business plan you need to possess a sound knowledge of the market you are involved in. You need to actively conduct market research and ensure that your plan makes reference to your findings. It should include factors such as market size, the predicted growth path of said market and how you propose to gain access to it. For example, if you are planning on opening a bar then your business plan should include figures based on the local population, cost of suppliers, predictions about whether the bar industry is likely to grow or decline in the area and a review of the competitive environment.
Traditionally business plans have been highly confidential and quite limited in audience. The business plan itself is generally regarded as secret. An open business plan is a business plan with unlimited audience. The business plan is typically web published and made available to all. In the free software and open source business model, trade secrets, copyright and patents can no longer be used as effective locking mechanisms to provide sustainable advantages to a particular business and therefore a secret business plan is less relevant in those models.
It also needs to be written in formal format and style. You have to remember that a business plan is something that you may have to present to your business partners, financial firms and banks. So if you can, refrain from using slang in any part of your plan.
This situation is complicated by the fact that many venture capitalists will refuse to sign an NDA before looking at a business plan, lest it put them in the untenable position of looking at two independently developed look-alike business plans, both claiming originality. In such situations one may need to develop two versions of the business plan: a stripped down plan that can be used to develop a relationship and a detail plan that is only shown when investors have sufficient interest and trust to sign an NDA.
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