How to Set Up Your Business Plan

Setting up and writing a business plan requires structure, focus and attention to detail. According to "Harvard Business Review," strategic planning begins with an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). SWOT requires detailed research into your market, your competition and how you plan to position your product against your competition. Your SWOT analysis and the rest of your business plan will guide you in structuring and positioning your business in the marketplace.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer with Internet access
  • Word processor
  • Spreadsheet


    • 1

      Establish and write your vision statement. Address your reason for starting the business, what you hope to accomplish and what market need your business will address. Describe your product or service.

    • 2

      Perform a market analysis to determine who will buy your product or service and where. This includes the gender and age of your anticipated clients and where they are likely to buy (for example, city, local mall, your retail outlet, over the Internet).

    • 3

      Identify and analyze your business proposition against your competition. A SWOT analysis will help you determine competitive advantage and create a plan to position your product against your competition's.

    • 4

      Use the research and information you gathered in Steps 2 and 3 as a guide for developing your business strategy. Your strategy should include actionable step-by-step activities and plans.

    • 5

      Evaluate and determine how you will position your products and services to meet the strategic objectives you established in Step 4. For example, assume you established a clear vision of your product or service in Step 1. Your SWOT analysis and strategy may require you to focus initially on only one aspect of your product or service or one specific market segment or demographic.

    • 6

      Write your marketing plan. Include both local marketing and Internet marketing. Include marketing ad copy, separating ad copy into groups by target demographic. You should find writing your marketing plan relatively simple after you properly complete Steps 4 and 5.

    • 7

      Determine and write the operational plans necessary to carrying out your business plan. Include operational structure, office facilities, number of employees, office equipment required and start-up inventory needs.

    • 8

      Research and determine the capital you need to fund your business. The more detailed you are in Step 7, the more accurately you can estimate your capital requirements.

    • 9

      Write your executive summary. Bankers and potential investors or venture capitalists will read the summary to decide whether or not to take a closer look at your business plan for funding. Use the summary to condense the research and information you gathered in Steps 1 through 8 into a convincing proposition. Include your core business concept, products and services, the market need you are addressing, critical success factors and your funding needs.

Tips & Warnings

  • The level of detail required for each step in your business plan depends on the size and scope of the business you are looking to start. If you plan to start a home-based business, you will not need the level of detail as someone who plans to open an office and hire employees.
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