A business plan is a written document that explains the goals of a particular business or non-profit organisation and how the proprietor(s) intends to achieve them. The business plan is an important element in the success of a new business or community project because, as the name implies, it turns an idea into a strategic plan. Banks and lenders often require a business plan before they will approve a loan or financial support.
Write the executive summary. The executive summary is a brief description of the entire business plan. It is intended to give the reader a basic understanding of the plan without reading the entire proposal. In the summary, clearly describe the business/non-profit's mission and objectives.
Describe the intended services/products/project to be offered. Be specific and thoroughly describe each service while you detail its objectives and what problem each will address or solve. Ask yourself what, where and why when you write this section.
Develop the Market/Needs Analysis, which answers the question, "Who". Thoroughly document the need for your service/project through specific research. Include the demographics of your intended target audience and describe any business or organisations that would be competition.
Write the Organization and Management Section to describe how your business/project will be organised and managed. Write an organisational chart of staff/volunteers, including their job descriptions. The CEO or boss should be listed at the top of the chart and subsequent staff/volunteers under them, according to position. Staff/volunteers with more authority should be placed closer to the top of the chart.
Explain your Strategy and Implementation Summary. The Strategy and Implementation summary is a vital section of the business plan in which you write the marketing/advertising and public relations plan. Write the specific marketing tools you plan to use (flyers, brochures, advertisements, radio, etc.), who will develop them, how they will be distributed and in what order.
Draft the Financial Plan. Describe how and where you will get the money to fund your business/project (grants, loans, donations). Give details about which grants you will apply for or where you intend to apply for loans. If you plan to raise donations, give a detailed description of how you will do so. Include an annual budget that details specific amounts for needs, revenues and expenses. For specific details of what to include, check out the free online book "The Hurdle: The Book on Business Planning" by Timothy J. Berry (see Resources).
Compile the Appendix. Place additional graphs, charts or supporting documents in a well organised appendix.
Include a cover page that contains the name of the proposed business/project; author of the business plan; the author's address, phone number, e-mail and the date. Include a table of contents, and make sure the page numbers are correct. Use charts and bullets to break up long text and make the plan easier to read.