How do you write a business plan?

Determining strategies and setting goals. Assigning responsibilities and managing budgets. As a company you often cannot escape it. And that's a good thing! You won't get anywhere without a plan. As an entrepreneur you are not obliged to write a business plan, the main reason for writing a business plan is to obtain a loan from the bank. If you have enough resources yourself, writing a business plan is not necessarily necessary. But if you take yourself as an entrepreneur seriously, write one anyway. And this is why:

A business plan helps to prioritize. It gives direction to your company, you define objectives, map out strategies and it helps you foresee any pitfalls.

Incidentally, at Holland Startup we choose to replace the business plan with the Lean Canvas method. 

Tip 1: Keep it short and concise

Writing a business plan feels like an obligation for some, something you don't feel like doing at all. It's like writing a thesis. Let's be clear once and for all: a business plan doesn't have to be long. A business plan should be short and concise. You want the business plan to be read. No one is going to read a 100 page business plan.

Most entrepreneurs need a short and clear business plan for internal use. A business plan contains the tools to run and grow your business. You keep refining a business plan.

What does a business plan look like?

What do you include in your business plan? What are you skipping? What does the financial chapter look like? Below you can read what the basic components of your business plan are. And remember: writing a business plan is not mandatory homework. A business plan is a tool to help you build a better business.

1. Summary

The business plan summary introduces your business, explains exactly what you do and what readers can expect. With a summary you arouse interest and enthuse the readers.

Since the summary is a crucial part, make sure to keep it as clear and concise as possible. List the main points, but don't go into too much detail. A length of 1 or 2 pages is perfect.

The summary is the first component of a business plan, but you write it last.

2. Analysis

Start this chapter with a problem description. What's the problem? What is the current situation and what is the solution of your product/service? For which target group are you solving the problem?

Defining the problem you are solving is without a doubt the most critical element of your business plan. If you don't solve the problem of your potential customers with your products or services, there is no viable business concept.

Also not unimportant: who are the competitors, do they offer a solution to the problem of the target group in a comparable way? What are the advantages of your product/service compared to the competition?

3. Execution

In this chapter you describe how you will actually run your business. Describe your marketing and sales plans, which factors will you control? This crucial section of your business plan describes how you will reach your target market.

Which marketing tools will you use? Do you mainly focus on content marketing? social media? Google ads or do you rely on offline media? You can work out a strategy based on the information from the Analysis chapter.

Once you've decided how you're going to position yourself against the competition, and in what way, you can move on to pricing.

4. Summary of the company and management

In this chapter you describe the structure of the company and show who the most important team members are. This data is not so important for you and your employees, but especially for investors. Investors generally do not invest in ideas, but in people.

Are you planning to use the plan purely internally? Then you can of course skip this section.

5. Financial plan

This is a section you should not skip. Your business plan is not complete without a financial forecast. Fortunately, something that entrepreneurs often find intimidating is not necessary. Finances for starting entrepreneurs are generally very clear. Keep in mind the many administrative obligations in the Netherlands.

6. Appendix

An attachment is not mandatory, but can be useful for additional information. Think of definitions, sources, graphs, tables or legal notes. An attachment is ideal for including details.

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