There is no right or wrong method to write a business plan, really. What is important is your plan satisfies your objectives. Ideally, the business plan format should be as simple as possible so as not to confuse your readers. Most business plans fall under one of two general categories: traditional or Lean startup. Traditional business plans tend to be less formal, use a more standard format, and encourage you to go into more detailed detail in every section.
While the structure may be the same, lean business plans tend to be much looser and more flexible regarding format. The most popular traditional business plan format involves organizing the different sections or aspects of the business in a single column and then listing each section’s purpose in parenthesis. For instance, you would break down the marketing section into a few paragraphs and then include an overview of your business goals and plan for achieving those goals in the last paragraph.
One of the benefits of writing a business plan format is it allows you to provide greater detail for your goals and business development plans. However, this simplicity can also make it harder for you to develop ideas for the direction of your business. It takes longer to write a simple business plan format because you have to figure out what the relevant segments will be and how to transition from one segment to the next. Many small business owners dislike this feeling of being in too much of a hurry because they feel it takes away from their creative flow. However, by breaking your big plan into many small-sized segments, you allow your mind to wander and you will more easily come up with ideas for expanding your business.
Another benefit of the standard business plan format is its brevity. The streamlined format allows you to list the major business activities and create a comprehensive graph that compares these activities against one or more future time points. As you can see, brevity provides greater clarity. You have fewer words to describe complicated or ambiguous elements in the plan, which cuts down on the number of sentences that you need to explain your business activities to the reader. This can reduce the length of time that it takes you to tell your story and complete your business plans.
Many business plans use the lean startup concept to illustrate the benefits of creating a business plan format using smaller, easier-to-read sections. The goal here is to allow your readers to focus on the most important aspects of your business and to draw the most objective conclusions based on their analysis. Using sections like product and service development, management, and financial management, along with an introduction and an executive summary, can help the reader focus quickly on the most appropriate parts.
Another great way to present your business plan is as a written work report. While this might not seem like the most important use for a business plan, it is a great way to give a summarized overview of the plan’s main points and recommend solutions to specific problems or short-term goals. As always, be sure to highlight key points that will be helpful to potential investors. It’s also a good idea to have a section dedicated to justifying the strategy or tactics that are being suggested. Finally, it is a good idea to have a section dedicated to identifying any risk factors associated with your business idea. You can identify risks by looking at your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses as well as other factors.
Many business plan formats outline several financing options, but only a few include dropshipping businesses in their discussion. Because online business funding is relatively new, it is best to present these funding sources in full disclosure. Some popular sources of online funding include angel investors, resellers, and reselling rights provided by third-party websites like ClickBank or Commission Junction. Be sure to keep your readers well-informed about these sources of funds, which will help them make informed decisions about which business plan format to use in your project.
The main purpose of each section of a business plan is to convince potential investors of the value of the business idea. It should include five distinct sections: Background, Market Research, Executive Summary, Solutions and Benefits, and Business Plan Conclusion. Use the executive summary as an opportunity to display your unique abilities and explain how the product or service will solve real-world problems for your potential investors. Use the market research section to gain insight into how to reach potential customers and identify your target demographic. The solution section should provide clear strategies to address common issues that could prevent success.