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Learn2 Write a Business Plan
(12 steps)
Plan your way to profit

You've figured out how to build a widget that's better than every other widget on the market. You know who needs it and why. You even know how to reach customers and convince them to purchase your product. Now all you need is the capital to put your dream to the test. It's time to hit up investors.

But before they part with their money, you'll have to win their trust. In other words, you must commit your ideas to writing and convince them your venture will be a success. Not only is a business plan essential for raising capital, it also will provide you with a guide for leading your business into the future. We'll reveal the secrets to a clear, concise, and convincing business plan, whether you're expanding an established company or striking out on your own for the first time

Before you begin

Writing a business plan can take weeks, even months, of intense research and writing. Is it worth all the work? You bet. Even if you don't get all you want from investors, you're certain to benefit from the process. First, you'll have a better understanding of your own business as well as the industry as a whole. More important, you'll have a set of clearly articulated goals. This will help you organize and manage your business and give you a benchmark against which you can measure future performance.

If you're having trouble getting started, do the easy stuff first. Start with the things you know, such as listing the management team, the products or services you will offer, your target market, and a description of the current state of your business (even if it's only in the developmental stages). If you get hung up on a particular part of the plan, skip it. You can come back and fill it in later, perhaps with the help of an outside professional
   Go to Step 1 of 12

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Step 1: Understand your audience
Step 2: Prepare to research and write
Step 3: Outline the essentials
Step 4: Detail the investment opportunity
Step 5: Analyze the company and industry
Step 6: Address the market
Step 7: Explain how your business will run
Step 8: Introduce the management team
Step 9: Prepare a financial plan
Step 10: Provide source materials
Step 11: Avoid common pitfalls
Step 12: Proofread your work

Access to a good business library with industry magazines and newsletters
A personal computer
Accounting and word processing software that lets you make charts and graphs
The names of potential investors, including banks as well as individuals and venture capital firms
Past financial documents, plus other evidence of good credit
A professional consultant
An accountant
A business lawyer