Ideally, a traditional business plan can take just a few hours or maybe days to put together. And although there’s nothing wrong with taking as much time as possible, it is better if you already know what you are doing and have the data you need. Notably, it is possible to write your initial business plan in under an hour; however, it depends on how quickly you can answer the most pressing questions, and access some data to back up your assumptions.

If you have a perfect understanding of the business you want to venture into, then it should not take you more than 2–3 hours to get your initial and basic business plan done. From there, it can take you extra 2 hours every month to review and readjust it. You keep a basic plan at the core and as you have to present to outsiders – such as investors or bankers – you inculcate fresh summaries and text descriptions that are extra to your core basic plan.

Have it in mind that a Business Plan is a constantly evolving document so in reality it is never finished. It is your guide to doing business and since every Business Plan is different, it is better not to be tempted to use those many online programs that promise to make writing your business plan as simple as nursery rhythms.

Putting together your business plan should involve a deep reflection of every part and detail of your idea. Sometimes, it even takes seasoned professionals between 3 and 6 months to write a plan after collecting all the information necessary. In short, with most answers and data sorted, working full time, 10 days sounds right. However, business owners wear many hats, so setting aside 10 whole days is a big request, so, safely a month.

Dedicating a little time to research and planning before starting your business reduces the risk that you will lose money and make business mistakes. Your plan will help you find out if your business can indeed generate revenue and various other things that you really need to make it successful. Indeed, you could jump right in and start your business without a plan, but it is much more likely that you’ll waste time, money, and resources—unless you have a plan.

Components of a Good and Workable Business Plan

First and foremost, note that a plan is mainly measured by its readability and summarization. A good business plan is meant to leave a reader with a good general idea of its primary contents even after only a quick glance. Format, headings, white space, and illustrations all tend to make a huge difference. Summaries are very critical and the main points should show up in a business plan as quickly as they do in a business presentation. Nonetheless, here are the basic components of a good business plan.

  1. Executive Summary

When putting together a workable business, note that your executive summary is expected to appear first. This is the section that summarizes everything you expect your business to accomplish. Since it is meant to express what you intend to discuss in the rest of the plan, experts suggest that you write this section last.

Also, note that a good executive summary is enticing. It extensively tells the company’s mission statement, along with a short description of its products and services.

  1. Market Analysis

Note that this is where you are expected to show that you have a concrete understanding of your business industry and the specific market you intend to enter. This is the section where you have to substantiate the strengths that you highlighted in your company description with data and statistics that extensively explain your industry trends and themes.

You will also have to show what other businesses are doing and whether they are succeeding or failing. Note that your market analysis should also help visualize your target customers — how much money they make, what their buying habits look like, which services you think they want and need, etc. In addition, the numbers should help answer why your business can do it better.

  1. Company Description

This section includes all vital information about your business, goals, and the target customers that you intend to serve. Also note that this is where you describe why your company stands out from other competitors in the industry and break down its strengths, including the services or solutions you offer customers, and the competitive advantages that will offer your business an edge to succeed.

  1. Description of Management and Organization

Your business plan is expected to outline how your organization is set up. You will have to introduce your company managers here and summarize their skills and main job responsibilities. Note that a simple way could be to use a diagram that maps out your chain of command.

Also remember to indicate whether your business will operate as a partnership, a sole proprietorship or a business with a different ownership structure. If you have a board of directors, this is where you have to identify the members.

  1. Competitive Analysis

Every good business plan needs to showcase a clear comparison of your business vs. your direct and indirect competitors. Note that this section is where you show your knowledge of the industry by breaking down their strengths and weaknesses.

Always remember that the end goal is to show how your business will meet up in the market. And if there are any issues that could limit you from venturing into the market, like high upfront costs, this is where you will have to be plain. Your competitive analysis will go in your market analysis section.

  1. Breakdown of Your Products and Services

Although your company description is an overview, a detailed breakdown of your products and services is meant to provide a direct but extensive description of the products that you are creating and selling, how long they could last and how you intend them to meet existing demand.

Note that this section is where you are expected to mention your suppliers, as well as other key information about how much it will cost to make your products and how much money you intend to generate also. Ensure to also list all relevant information pertaining to patents and copyright concerns here as well.

  1. Sales Strategy

This is where you are expected to answer how you intend to sell the products that you are producing or offer the services that you intend to bring to the market. Note that your sales strategy is expected to be specific. Ensure to carefully break down how many sales reps you will need to employ and how you intend to recruit them and bring them on board. Also, make sure to include your sales targets as well.

  1. Marketing Plan

Have it in mind that this is where you explain how you intend to get your products and services into the market and also reach your target customers. In this section, break down the steps that you will take to promote your products and the budget that you will need to implement your strategies.

  1. Request for Funding

If you also need external funding, this section is where you have to focus on the amount of money you need to build your business and how you intend to leverage the capital that you are looking for. You should consider including a timeline here for additional funding that you require to complete other crucial projects.

  1. Financial Projections

Note that this is the final section and where you explain the financial goals and expectations that you have set based on market research. This is the section where you report your anticipated revenue for the first 12 months and your annual projected earnings for the second, third, fourth and fifth years of business. However, if you intend on applying for a personal loan or a small business loan, you can always add an appendix or another section that offers extra financial or background information.

Joy Nwokoro