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The Basics of Writing a Business Plan

By on July 28, 2015

Today I’m revisiting a topic I have covered before but needs to be covered again – the basics of writing a business plan. In the sea of information out there on the internet, stuff gets buried, so even though I have made this video before I am updating now and we’ll walk through the key components of a solid business plan.

Now, I know people out there like to constantly debate the merits of a business plan and whether entrepreneurs should bother creating one. I’ve commented on that silly debate before so I won’t do so here and will just assume you agree with me that you do need a business plan of some sort or you wouldn’t have clicked on this. Besides, if you want outside funding, you need to have one and, even if you’re not in search of outside funding, it’s always a good idea to have completed some solid market research and laid out your marketing, financial, and operational plans before you get too deep into running the day-to-day of your business.

With that said, here are the basics of what you should include the plan:

First up is your executive summary – and this is really only necessary if you’re creating a formal plan – if you want to pull together the components to get your strategy on track but you’re not submitting the plan to any outsiders in search of funding, you can skip this. Basically, it’s the cliff’s notes to the business plan and should be concise and compelling so that any potential investor who reads it is interested enough to continue on to the full plan, which will contain the real meat. I tend to write the executive summary last so I can pull the info I need about the company and its business model, management, competition, and marketing and financial plans from the rest of the plan.

The next section is the description of the business. Here you say what your business does, provide information about its products and services, and explain the business model. This forces you to fully think through how you’re going to bring in money so you and any potential investors understand where the revenues will come from.

Next you need to provide an in depth marketing plan. Here is where you explain in detail why what you have to offer is so special and how you’ll make sure your customers know that so they’re willing to shell out cash to buy it from you. You need to perform some market research and competitive analysis so you know who and where your customers and competitors are. This section is incredibly important because, if you can’t clearly explain how you’ll bring in customers, then you really don’t have a business. Also remember, anything you discuss in this section must be directly related to the forecasts in the financials section. If you say you’re going to bring in a million new customers in the first 6 months, you’d better have a marketing plan that justifies that type of growth and have included the marketing expenses in your financials. Lots of people underestimate the importance of creating a thorough marketing plan and then fall short when they actually open their doors. Remember, just saying you’re going to do email marketing to bring in clients isn’t enough. You need to say where you’re going to get your email list from, what the open, click through, and conversion rates are for that type of list to justify the number of customers you project, and then include the costs of buying and sending to that list in your financial plan.

After your marketing plan comes the operational plan. Here you explain how stuff is going to get done. Where will your employees come from? How much do they cost? What about supplies and equipment, R&D, compliance with regulations? This section is where you lay out how all of the gears will work together to ensure that stuff gets done when it needs to get done so that your company continues to move forward.

Next you should identify your corporate structure – what type of business entity you chose and why. If you’re not sure what the best entity for your business is, I have an old video you can check out and will be creating an updated version soon.

After that you’re onto the management team. Here you explain who is in charge of what and why. This is another piece of the puzzle that many people ignore if they’re not seeking outside funding, but you shouldn’t. You need to seriously think about who will be included in your executive team and what they contribute. Having your best friend be your Chief Technology Officer when his background is accounting makes no sense. Be honest with yourself about who should take on the key roles in your company and make sure that they’re qualified. Don’t stack your executive suite with dead weight because you feel like you should have a bunch of “directors” or “chiefs” or because you want to appease family or friends.

Finally, you need to create a financial plan for your company and forecast what will be happening with your money. First you should create pro forma financial statements to get an idea of whether your company will actually be profitable. If you don’t know how, you can take a look at my old videos about financial statements and pro formas but I’ll also be uploading new versions at some point in the future. If you really have no clue what you’re doing, you should probably bring someone in to help you create the financial. Remember that you need to have an explanation for every number you put here, so go back to your marketing and operational plans to make sure you don’t miss any expenses and you’ve justified any revenues. Once you have these completed, if you’re looking for investment, you’ll need to discuss the financing you propose.

Now, these are just the basics of a business plan and some more formal plans may have additional information. However, if you thoroughly complete all of these sections, you’ll be in good shape to move forward with launching your business solo or recruiting investors to work with you.


If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, the best thing you can do for yourself is to just get started. Pick up my business planning ebook here to be guided through the whole business planning process for less than $5.
More of a video person than a text person? Click here to try my ecourses instead.
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3 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Deal with the “Nice” Haters

By on July 21, 2015

I’m usually no-fluff, but today we’re going to talk a bit about dealing with haters and naysayers because you need to be able to ignore them to succeed and get the most out of entrepreneurship. If you’re an entrepreneur, especially

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Entrepreneurs: When You Pitch, Leave Them Wanting More

By on July 13, 2015

Today’s topic, once again, is investor pitches. Now, of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve given you some tips for how to win the hearts and wallets of investors, but today I want to focus in on a very specific aspect of

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Infographic: How Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Can Improve Your Marketing

By on July 9, 2015

Over a year ago I wrote a post explaining how Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can be used to help entrepreneurs more effectively market their startups and small businesses. In keeping with my goal of updating old content to create

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How Entrepreneurs Can Make the Most of Meetings with Mentors and Consultants

By on July 7, 2015

Today’s post is about how to make the most of meetings, specifically with mentors and consultants. Take a stroll around the internet and you’ll see TONS of articles that talk about how entrepreneurs shouldn’t try to do everything alone and that

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Do You and Your Business Partner Need Co-Founder Couples Therapy?

By on June 29, 2015

This week, we’re talking about something that sounds a bit silly but could be the most valuable thing any of you will ever do for your business – co-founders couples therapy. I’ve talked a lot in the past about the

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Infographic: 3 Steps to Proper Product Pricing

By on June 25, 2015

Awhile back I wrote a post giving some tips for how to properly price your products or services. Today I thought I’d just do a quick add on to that post by creating a short infographic to cover the issue. If

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Quickly Test if Your Website is Mobile-Friendly (For Free!)

By on June 23, 2015

Today’s post is super short but super useful and immediately actionable. A couple of months ago I found a really cool trick that can help you instantly make sure your website looks great to everyone, so I’m going to share

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Infographic: Don’t Let Entrepreneurship Ruin Your Passion

By on June 18, 2015

A few weeks ago I wrote a post talking about how entrepreneurship can easily ruin your passion, if you’re not careful. Today I thought I’d just do a quick add on to that post by creating a short infographic to

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Before Entering a Partnership, Be Clear on What Each Side Gets and Is Expected to Give or Your Startup or Small Business is In For Some Trouble

By on June 16, 2015

This week, I want to talk a little about the importance of being crystal clear on what everyone’s expectations are when you enter into any business agreement like a partnership or other contract. We all know this, but we also