Part Three – How to Write the Best Business Plan (5 Major Points)

Note: This is the third and last article in a 3-part series about Writing the Best Business Plan. There are literally millions of articles, courses, outlines, and information available, both free and priced. In fact, the information available is so overwhelming, that it is very difficult to know where to begin and what to trust! These articles are designed to give practical, useful, and valuable advice about how to get it done.

The 5 Major Points About Writing The Best Business Plan

In Part One, we looked at purposes and types of formal business plans; the purpose dictates the type of document to construct. All executives, bankers, investors, and business leaders agree that every business should have a formal business plan that is tailored to the desired purpose and result.

Many new businesses – and many entrepreneurs – do not understand how to properly prepare to write an effective plan. The rule of thumb is this: “Proper planning prevents poor performance!”

There are 5 Major points to consider in preparing to write a formal business plan:

1. Know your outcome and content. Who is the Business Plan being written for, what is the proper scope, content, resources, and what is the desired result? These points were covered in Parts One and Two of this article series:
a. Is it to attract an investor? Plan should be a “brief sales piece” geared directly towards the questions an investor will ask.
b. Is it for a bank loan, SBA-backed loan, or other commercial loan? The plan should then cover the information a banker would want.
c. Is it just for the business owner and to serve as a road map?
d. Is it for multiple purposes, or to be used for various ends? Consider a “parent” plan or targeted plan(s).
e. With each type of business plan, seek preparation that fits exactly within the purpose, desired result, and industry
f. Various business plan templates are freely available at the SBA website.

2. The writer. Be sure that whoever writes – or is hired to write – your business plan is the right person for the job. The same way you would seek an experienced carpenter of construction contractor, you should seek a writer; ask questions, view samples, get references, etc.
a. If the writer does not ask you about the audience and intent of your plan right at the start, throw up a red flag! This is not a good sign.
b. If the writer is a large corporation, chances are very good you will not get enough personalized service; often you are just another account and you do not want a “cookie-cutter” business plan at all. Be very careful about hiring a big company.
c. If the writer does not have personal business experience, or specializes in a certain area, or does not have a comprehensive knowledge of your business variables, do not hire him or her.

3. The Financials. This is yet another piece that so many new businesses and entrepreneurs get wrong! Every plan should have supporting Financials as one dedicated section of the business plan. However, which financial documents to create and include depends upon the audience and purpose (or type) of the plan. What is great is that a lot of the very best resources for building financial reports are completely free!
a. If the business plan’s purpose is a capital investor, or to get a commercial loan of some kind, my advice would be to seek the advise of a SCORE representative, and/or someone with direct knowledge of the requirements!
b. At the very least, a Sales Forecast, Cash Flow Projections, Income Statement, Balance Sheet, Key Performance Ratios, and Break-Even Analysis should be provided.
c. Additionally, most often investors and bankers are going to desire private financial information on the owner(s) as well. They might also want to see a spreadsheet or chart showing the Funds Required and Timing, and perhaps Revenue Calculators based upon the products or services of the business.
d. Double check to ensure that all references made to performance numbers (in the body of the plan) match exactly to the supporting financial documents!

4. The Appendices, Exhibits, and Addendums. The rule here is don’t over do it! Perhaps you might include a library of direct competitors, or a website abstract, or Terms and Conditions, or a related legal document. Even so, only provide documentation directly supporting the plan. Too much is not necessarily a good thing.

5. The Executive Summary. The Executive Summary is the first section of a great business plan, and yet very often its vital importance and effectiveness is overlooked.
a. I recommend that this section is written last and then inserted at the beginning.
b. As the document is written, notes, information, and data can then be set aside (copied) that are perfect for inclusion in the Executive Summary.
c. The Executive Summary is like a mini business plan and should directly serve the purpose, plan type, and result desired. It should be as brief as possible, and yet as inclusive and persuasive as possible.

In conclusion, in this article we have taken a look writing a formal business plan and pulling all the data together. Once again I will state that it is my suggestion is to carefully research when hiring someone for this important job. As with anything positive, it is best to consider your desired result before taking action.

The task of preparing and writing a business plan can seem like a daunting project. However, if it is taken piece-by-piece, and assembled with care – using readily available resources and tools – then it is not such a huge undertaking and can definitely help to serve your purpose.

The #1 Reason We Get Overwhelmed When Writing Our Business Plan

Recently, a client-call her Jane- came in to discuss her lack of progress developing her business plan for her coaching business. She was struggling to put words down on her plan because she wasn’t able to focus on the task at hand-completing her business plan and launching her business with a strategy in place. She found herself overwhelmed by the business planning process.

Jane was making little progress because every time she sat down to write, her mind would wander to certain questions like:

• Do I have enough training to be an expert on the matter?
• How will I use social media to market my business?
• Do I want to risk my savings?
• What kind of coaching business should I have?
• When should I start blogging or writing articles to build a following?
• Do I develop a blog/website?
• Who’s my customer?
• Who’s my competition?
• How is my life going to be different if I open this business?
• How will I make money?

Business planning tends to overwhelm a large percentage of those writing. Truth be told, it’s not easy to move from business conception to business launch. Jane’s case is typical of those who spin their wheels and never get past a rough business plan outline.

An aspiring Solopreneur will be flooded with questions to answer and choices to make when they are designing their business. These questions are difficult to answer because by answering one question, it has implications that effect another question. These questions come in waves. There seems to be little one can do to slow the torrent of inter-connected questions that appear to be needed to be answered simultaneously. Like any decision you make with many variables, you must consider the “moving parts.”

I used to watch the Simpsons in the 90s and recall Homer Simpson sitting at his desk in the Springfield Nuclear Plant. Homer’s responsible for managing some sort of equilibrium so that the nuclear facility doesn’t blow up. How does he do it? In the cartoon’s wry sense of humor, it’s as easy as moving a few levers up and down.

If radiation goes up, Homer will need to pull lever A down. But, when Homer pulls lever A down, the heat will rise. To lower the temperature, Homer needs to push lever B up. But, in doing so, the radiation goes back up and the pressure will build. You get the picture: all the elements in the factory are inter-connected. By taking course on one factor, another factor of your business will be affected, making it hard to move forward. You will to be in a constant state of uncertainty and tweaking that never leads anywhere.

By the end of your business plan, you’ll understand how the parts of your plan are connected. But between Feasibility and the end, blinders should be put on as if you are working in a vacuum. So, if we go back to Jane’s questions that arose at once, I would tell Jane that she’s going to know these answers eventually, but don’t try to answer all of them in the beginning.

This is the big source of frustration when writing a business plan. Because all the parts (competition, company resources, marketing, business model, work-life balance) are tangled, many people writing become overwhelmed trying to push the metaphorical levers up and down, trying to brainstorm, research, interconnect concepts, and complete business plan sections all at once.

A course of action that exacerbated Jane’s frustration was her skipping Feasibility, which consists of basic questions about her business and personal goals. Instead of working through Feasibility, and then building upon it through a structured process, she filled in a business plan template with “answers to questions”. Without having a purpose of the business (and her life), she was starting the process without any sense of direction. It’s like designing a house with no idea who is going to live in it or where the house is located. The lack of context and direction will lead to disaster.

Jane-a registered nurse-described how she envisioned the business planning process would be when she started the course. “In nursing, we ask the patient a few questions then put the symptoms in a computer. The computer analyzes the symptoms and then spits out a diagnosis. I don’t have to think that much. I thought writing a business plan would be like this, where you show us where to fill in some information and then the business plan would come together.”

I wish it were that easy!

Business plan writing-as you probably have figured out-isn’t like a computer program that spits out the answer. You don’t go through a series of steps to arrive at a magic formula that will make you a happy millionaire. The interconnections between the moving parts require you to think and make decisions throughout the whole process.

The system I teach my students-a system that this student had not followed-is based upon answering questions at certain times in the business plan process and staying disciplined to the system. This will discourage you from trying to answer all of them at once (by moving levers up and down to solve everything simultaneously).

You’ll define in detail each moving part at distinct times of the business plan writing process. In another entry, I’ll briefly go over what business plan questions to answer when.

Help! I Need To Write a Business Plan

Writing a business plan can be really daunting. You’ve got a great idea. You know it can work. You want to get started! But the Bank Manager says, May I see your business plan!

This is when you need How to Write a Business Plan – Free Information for Entrepreneurs. You really can write a business plan in an afternoon.

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan for a new business is a document or report which answers key questions about your idea including:

  • What goods or services will it provide?
  • Who will buy them and why?
  • Who are your competitors and how are your products/services different?
  • How much do you expect to sell and when?
  • What resources (e.g. money, employees, premises) do you need?
  • Etc, etc

If you have thought about your business start up idea carefully and carried out some research, creating a business plan should be relatively easy. All you need to do is to write your ideas down.

Why Do I Need a Business Plan?

Mainly you need a business plan for yourself. Working through a list of questions needed to compile a plan will highlight any areas of your business which you have overlooked or on which you need to do more research.

Sometimes, of course, it may be your Bank Manager or an organisation offering you a grant who will require a plan.

Your basic business plan will be the same whoever reads it but the audience can make some differences.

If the plan is for your bank or to apply for a grant, you may need to use a specific format or even fill in their form.

If the plan is to be viewed by third parties who you want to impress, then presentation, spelling and grammar will be important. Not as important as the content but important. You may also want to include lots of evidence that what you say is true. As an example, it could be helpful to include your full CV and even copies of your qualification certificates as appendices.

If the plan is purely for your own use, perhaps to pull your ideas together and make sure that you have really considered all angles then you may choose to spend less time on presentation. You may also omit some pieces of evidence but be careful not to use this as an excuse for failing to carry out enough research.

How Long Should My Plan Be?

There are no strict rules. 15-20 pages plus appendices would usually be plenty long enough. It may be longer if the area of business is especially complex but many professionals consider that overly long business plans are the written by people who are not thinking clearly. And everyone hates waffle!

Possible Structure

There are lots of business plan structures to choose from. The outline below is just one suggestion. Provided the sequence is logical and you have covered all key issues the exact structure is not critical.

Executive Summary

A one or two page summary of the plan, write it at the end. Worth spending time on because many people will only read the summary.


The introduction should include a very brief outline of your business idea.


This section is about the people who will buy your product.

  • Who needs your product?
  • Where will purchasers be based?
  • How
  • Market characteristics – emerging, growing or stagnating, recent or impending changes and their likely effects
  • Competition – What competition is there? Why are you better or different?
  • Other

Your Business Idea

  • What is your idea?
  • How will your product or service be different than your competitors?
  • How much will your product or service be sold for?
  • Market research undertaken


Use this section to consider whether your team will be able to deliver your plan.

  • Who will your team be?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • How will you fill any skills gaps?


  • What resources will you need to get your business going?
  • Where will you get them from?
  • Do you own any intellectual property (e.g. copyright and trademarks) relevant to your idea? Have they been protected?


  • What marketing do you plan to carry out?

Financial Projections

  • Key projections are profit and loss and cashflow. The first shows how much money you are planning to make and the second is essential to ensure that your plans will not result in you running out of cash. A balance sheet is also helpful.
  • Include explanations of any calculations and assumptions.
  • Show graphs to summarise detailed figures contained in the appendices.
  • If you have limited financial expertise, contact an accountant for further advice and support.


Include any very detailed information or supporting evidence as an appendix. Refer to it clearly in the main text.

Good Luck with Your Business

Well done, that is it. Wasn’t that difficult was it! Now the hard part is implementing the plan. Many people come up with great ideas and plans – only a few implement successfully. Good luck!

But I Need More Help!

If you are still feeling that you would welcome some more help on How to Write a Business Plan, free information is available from Business Link or contact:

Bplans – click on the links on their home page to access a huge number of sample business plans.

Teneric – they offer a free business plan writing course.