The Do’s and Don’ts of Creating a Business Plan

For anyone planning to start a small business, writing a business plan is a crucial part of the process. The thought of creating a business plan can be overwhelming as it needs to be a detailed, comprehensive overview of your business idea. When writing a business plan, there are certain dos and don’ts that can help people avoid commonly made mistakes, which can be especially helpful for those without an MBA degree who have not necessarily taken classes on writing a business plan. When creating a business plan, consider the following list of dos and don’ts.

 The Do’s

Do write your own business plan. Generally, its not a great idea to have someone else write a business plan for you as you are the expert, and only you can verify your business vision or idea. Writing a business plan is a critical part of the planning process and can mean the difference between running a successful business and one that is bound for failure.

Do reference a business plan outline when creating your own plan. Using a business plan outline will help in determining what should be included in your plan. It can also serve as a very useful guide in how to format a business plan and how to identify expectations and goals of your new business.

Do provide detail and answer important questions in your business plan. A strong business plan includes detailed information on who will be involved in the business, where it will operate, how it will operate, when, and how much money will be needed. This information should be very clear in addition to being detailed.

Do proper research of all the necessary components needed to write a comprehensive plan. This is especially important in situations where the business plan will be used to obtain financing. The final business plan should essentially tell the story of your business in a clear, comprehensive manner for potential lenders or investors. All business issues should be addressed in a business plan with enough detail that no verbal explanation is needed.

Do research costs and include projections and a financial plan. One of the most crucial parts of a business plan is the financial information. It is important to research financial expenses and revenues and come up with reasonable projections as opposed to assumptions.

 The Dont’s

Don’t just guess on business costs. Guessing cost averages can set your business up for failure. It is important to obtain price quotes and other necessary information from reliable sources so that you can provide accurate information in your business plan.

Don’t rush through your business plan. A comprehensive, detailed business plan is time consuming and should not be rushed. It is imperative that time is taken to do adequate research and provide accurate information.

Don’t put a limit on the size of your business plan. A business plan does not need to contain a set number of pages and should be as long as necessary to convey all pertinent information.

Don’t write your business plan by hand. In order to convey a professional image, business plans should be typed as opposed to handwritten.

Don’t be biased when writing your business plan. All businesses have strengths and weaknesses and both should be clearly conveyed in any business plan. Including potential strategies for improving any weaknesses is also recommended.

Don’t be afraid to change your business plan. Because a business plan takes time to create, it is important to not be afraid to make revisions as necessary if circumstances change.

Do proofread your completed business plan for spelling and grammatical errors. Spelling and grammatical errors can convey that the plan was written hastily and can also look unprofessional. If necessary, ask someone to read over the final plan and help look for any spelling or grammatical errors so that they can be fixed immediately.

Do customize your business plan. While it is recommended that you reference a business plan sample when creating your own, it is important to customize the plan to your specific idea. You should never copy and paste or plagiarize any part of your business plan.

Creating a business plan is one of the first steps and also one of the most important steps in creating a business. While it can seem overwhelming and can require a significant amount of time and work, a strong business plan can aid in acquiring funding for your business in addition to contributing to it’s overall success.

 Resources on Writing a Business Plan