Plan for an Established Business
This business plan consists of a narrative and several financial spreadsheets. The narrative
template is the body of the business plan. It contains more than 150 questions divided into several
sections. Work through the sections in any order you like, except
for the Executive Summary, which
should be done last. Skip any questions that do not
apply to your business. When you are finished
writing your first draft, you will have a collection of small essays on the various topics of the
business plan. Then you will want to edit them into a flowing narrative.
The real value of doing a business plan is not having the finished product in hand; rather, the
value lies in the process of research and thinking about your business in a systematic way. The
act of planning helps you to think things through thoroughly, to study and research when you are
not sure of the facts, and to look at your ideas critically. It takes time, but avoids costly, perhaps
disastrous, mistakes later.
The business plan narrative is a generic model suitable for all types of businesses. However, you
should modify it to suit your particular circumstances. Before you begin, review the section titled
Refining the Plan, found at the end of the business plan. It suggests emphasizing certain areas,
depending upon your type of business (manufacturing, retail, service, etc.). It also has tips for
fine‐tuning your plan to make an effective presentation to investors or bankers. If this is why you are
writing your plan, pay particular attention to your writing style. You will be judged by the quality and
appearance of your work as well as your ideas.
It typically takes several weeks to complete a good plan. Most of that time is spent in research and
rethinking your ideas and assumptions. But then, that is the value of the process. So make time to
do the job properly. Those who do never regret the effort. And finally, be sure to keep detailed notes
on your sources of information and on the assumptions underlying your financial data.