Outlining a Business Plan

What is most important in a business plan? First, here is what a standard business plan should cover:

1. The company (its legal formation, history, and ownership) 2. What it sells (the product or service) 3. The market (including size of market, growth, and trends) 4. The plan (sales forecast, sales and marketing strategy, milestones, assumptions, and tasks) 5. The management team (organizational structure and managers’ backgrounds) 6. Financial analysis (cash flow, profitability, balance, and returns) 7. The most important part of the plan: specifically what is going to happen

The core of a business plan is the collection of detailed dates, deadlines, responsibilities, and commitments. I call them milestones, and I’ve also seen it called MAT, for milestones, assumptions, and tasks. Ironically, this kind of detail is frequently left out of business plans that are full of big ideas and strategy. What you want from a plan is results, and the way to get results is to build specifics you can track.

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