Starting up a business is an exciting time, but writing a business plan can seem daunting initially. However, being able to write a good business plan is an essential skill to have for any entrepreneur or new business looking to increase their chance of survival.
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.
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.
The business goals may be defined both for non-profit or for-profit organizations. For-profit business plans typically focus on financial goals, such as profit or creation of wealth. Non-profit, as well as government agency business plans tend to focus on the "organizational mission" which is the basis for their governmental status or their non-profit, tax-exempt status, respectively—although non-profits may also focus on optimizing revenue.
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