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4 Helpful Hints for Business Plan Preparation


Once you've made a decision to be your own boss, you should schedule time to write a business plan. Preparation is key so that you don't waste time and energy in the writing process. You will spend more prep time than actual writing time, which is normal. Here's what you need to do before writing your plan:

1. Make a List of Lists

Business plan preparation entails pulling together a lot of information, from many different sources. Even if you find a sample business plan that's close to the business you want to start, you'll still have to do add unique information. Make a list of the broad categories you'll need to get more information for, including:

  • Market research
  • Financial statements
  • Legal documents

Write your list categories on the top of each page, and then make a list of the information you'll need to gather for each. For example, under "Legal Documents" you might write: contracts, copyright forms and attorney retainer agreement.

2. Visit Key Websites

You can find industry information at several key websites, that you'll need to include in your business plan. Check each of the following to find out information on pricing, profits, legal considerations, cost analysis and more:

  • United States Department of Statistics, Bureau of Labor and Statistics (
  • Findlaw (
  • United States Census Bureau, Statistics of U.S. Businesses (

3. Compare Business Planning Software

The easiest way to write a business plan is to use business planning software. Compare the features of software programs to see which one you can afford and which one you're most comfortable using. Read reviews to see what customers are saying about each software you're considering. Here's a short list of free and paid software to consider:

  • Business Plan Pro
  • PlanWrite

You'll spend less time on business plan preparation with good software.

4. Outline Your Business Plan

One important step to take in regards to business plan preparation is to outline the plan. A business planning software will do this automatically. You can do it manually if you use the outlining features in Microsoft Word, or you can create an outline on paper. The following is a standard business plan outline that you can use for your business plan:

Market Analysis

  • Industry Description and Outlook
  • Identifying Your Target Market
  • Market Tests
  • Lead Times
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Regulatory Restrictions

Company Description

  • Nature of your business
  • Marketplace needs
  • List of individuals or businesses that need your services

Organization & Management

  • Organizational structure 
  • Ownership information
  • Management profiles

Marketing and Sales Management

  • Market penetration strategy
  • Strategy for growing your business
  • Channels of distribution strategy
  • Communication strategy
  • Sales activities

Service or Product Line

  • Detailed description
  • Life cycle of product or service
  • Research and development activities
  • Intellectual property issues

Financial Statements

  • Income statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Cash flow statements
  • Capital expenditure budgets

Take your time with proper business plan preparation, and do a thorough job. After you're done, writing it won't be as hard.

Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.

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