Recognizing That the Parts of the Plan Make a Whole

A traditional business plan is sectioned into seven or eight major parts. At first, that number of parts might seem a bit overwhelming. Consider, however, that most experts recommend keeping a finished business plan to fewer than 20 pages. (You can usually get by with many fewer pages.) When you break down that recommendation, each section becomes only 2 or 3 pages long, which translates to 5 or 6 paragraphs per page. It's not so much after all!

images Each part plays a critical role in your overall plan. Although each section can almost stand alone, the sections work together to present a complete picture, or vision, of your business. Don't even think about omitting one of them!

images Depending on your main purpose for having a business plan, you can develop sections with more diligence. For example, if you're seeking outside funding, make sure that the financials section is as thorough and accurate as possible.

Before you start writing, get a sense of the scope of your plan by reading these brief descriptions of the basic parts you need to cover:

  • Executive summary: Although this part comes first in your plan, you typically write it last. This brief page does just what it says: It highlights the major points from each of the other parts ...

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