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Regardless of the industry or size of the company, a business plan is essential. This step-by-step guide will teach you how to create one for any organization, with expert advice and free templates. Creating a solid business plan requires a lot of attention to detail, and this guide will teach you how to define each document section.

Executive Summary and Business Description

The executive summary is the first section of a business plan, and it should answer the main questions about the company. These include the long- and short-term goals of the company. Your business description should also answer questions about the company, such as what it is, how it is operated, and its goals.

Market and Competitive Analysis

This section should also include proof that you have a good understanding of the current state of the market, as well as proof that your service or product meets customers’ needs. In most cases, a business plan should also include a competitive version of the company’s product or service, which is a more evolved version of the current offering. This section should answer the questions about the competition, such as what sets your product or service apart from the others.

Organizational Management and Product or Service Description

In this section, list the key personnel who are responsible for the company’s success. You should also note the roles and responsibilities of the team members. Your product or service should also clearly identify all the necessary resources and effort that go into developing it. Having a solid product is very important, as it will help you determine how to market and sell it. 

Marketing and Sales Plan

The marketing strategy should also be defined in this section, though it should not be as extensive as a marketing plan. This should include the target market, how you’ll market it, and the resources you’ll need to reach it. Your sales strategy should also be defined in this section and include the various steps to help you reach these goals. For business plans, this section should not be too comprehensive. Instead, it should summarize the high-level strategies and objectives to help you achieve your goals.

Funding and Projections

One of the most critical sections of a business plan is the financial section, as it should include details about the company’s current financial situation and how it will be able to grow. Although you don’t need to provide a comprehensive financial plan, you should also answer other important questions, such as how much capital you need and how you will be able to develop the team. Besides the financial section, investors also like to see projections about the company’s future performance. These projections can be as short as one to five years, depending on the stage of your business.