How do I write a business plan? Stefan Zangerle 11. January 2022

How do I write a business plan?

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How do you write a business plan that convinces banks, investors and other stakeholders of a business idea, a start-up project or a company? This article gives you a free template as well as numerous tips and assistance for creating a business plan.

What is a business plan?

The business plan is a detailed description and planning of a business idea or a company. It is around 20 to 50 pages long and describes all the essential core topics of a business idea. The business plan also serves to put the business idea into writing and is intended to encourage founders to deal intensively with their planned company. It can be used for submission to investors, banks, funding agencies and other stakeholders and gives these people an initial assessment of the skills of the founding team.

How do you write a business plan?

Writing a business plan is always a challenge for founders. Frequent questions are, for example: What does everything belong in the business plan? How detailed should you describe the business idea? How long does it take to write a full business plan etc.? Often founders also have no commercial background and so there are numerous questions about the financial plan, which is the heart of the business plan. All these questions should be resolved after this article and with the template for download.

Building a business plan

Almost every business plan follows a similar structure and contains the same topics. The following points are particularly important and should not be missing from any business plan:

  • Executive summary
  • Product / service
  • Company & Management
  • Market & competition
  • marketing & Distribution
  • financing

The focus is primarily on the product or service and the financing part. Depending on the founder, business idea and industry, the individual parts of the business plan can vary in length.

Business plan template

Before we look at the individual parts in detail, I have a special gift for you! You can now download a commented business plan template for free! This template was created on the basis of the business plan of Flaterio , with whom I worked as part of the Flaterio team at the Austrian Business Plan Competition (i2B) 2020 made it into the finals of the top 5 with over 1,000 submissions. With over 15 pages full of help, information and tips, this template is the most comprehensive in the German-speaking region.

Download the business plan template now for free

An extensive, award-winning template with lots of tips and aids to fill out.
Download now!

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But now back to the core question: How do I write a business plan? The individual parts of the business plan are explained below. You can find more tips and assistance in the template.

Executive summary

The Executive Summary is a short summary of the entire business plan, which shows the most important contents in a compact way. It should not be longer than 2 pages and should give anyone who does not have time to read the entire business plan a good overview of the business idea. It is very advisable to write this part only after all other parts have been completed.

Product / service

The detailed description of the product or service, i.e. the business idea in the true sense, is the most important section of the business plan alongside the financing part. In this chapter the problem, the product or the solution, the USP and the current state of development of the idea are presented.

problem

So first and foremost, you have to explain to the reader the problem your idea is supposed to solve. Who suffers from it, what is the current state of the market and how is the problem currently being solved?

solution

The heart of this chapter is the solution. Here you explain your solution or your product idea / service etc. in detail. After this part, the reader should already have understood the “big picture” and it must be clear what you are doing. So don’t skimp on explanations and describe your product from A to Z.

Stage of development

Explain briefly here where you stand in the planning / development / implementation of your idea, how long you have been working on it and how long the development is likely to take.

Company & Management

In this section, the intended company profile, the company structure, the company values and the founding team are described. Here you can present the company that is developed from the business idea in detail.

Founding team

Who is behind the business idea and the business plan? Every founder should write his own text about himself. Explain here what makes you special as a founder, what experience you have gained and why you are the right person for this business idea. Here you should make your competence & experience credible to the reader or, if you are a young entrepreneur, you should emphasize your motivation and willingness to learn.

Company profile

Here you can explain what legal form your company should have , what the company name should be, where the company headquarters should be and who will be involved in what amount in the company.

organization

At this point you can describe how your company should be run and built. You can include an organizational chart and explain who should be responsible for what and why.

Values, culture, mission statement

It is also very timely to think about these topics. Describe what your company should stand for, what values it should pursue, what the corporate culture should be and what model you want to live.

vision

Of course, the vision cannot be missing either. What is the long-term goal, the vision of your company? Describe it here briefly. You are welcome to dream here and set yourself high goals.

Market & competition

Market analysis

Describes here in detail the market in which you are or will be. The more detailed the analysis, the better. It is particularly useful here to cite studies, to use benchmarks or to incorporate data from statistics. Graphics are particularly popular in this context. In order to be able to convey a credible picture here, only work with facts and back them up with sources. In any case, the market analysis should include individual sub-items such as market size, market potential, trends and market shares (and the development of your market shares) . A detailed description of these individual contents can be found in the template .

Competitive analysis

This section is all about your competition. In any case, you should do a competition analysis and clearly present your position in the market. Collect all the competitors that you can find here and lose a few words about each competitor. What is their current business model, where is the focus, where is the difference to your USP, etc. The more detailed, the more credible you become.

marketing & Distribution

In this section you explain to readers how you want to promote and sell your product. The target group, the various marketing measures and sales channels and the business model should be discussed.

target group

Who is your target group? Who is your product aimed at? Whose problems are you solving? If you already have buyer personas, then it makes sense to include them here.

Marketing measures & sales channels

Which marketing measures will you carry out on which channels or what do you think is sensible and why. The same goes for sales channels. You can go into more detail here on the individual points.

Price & business model

The decisive factor for your product is the price or the underlying business model. You should address this in a few paragraphs here. Why price X, why business model Y? If you are planning several variants and you do not yet know which will work better, you can communicate that honestly. This shows that you really thought about it.

financing

This section is the most important in the business plan. The financing of the business idea is particularly relevant for banks and investors. Comprehensibility, coherence, consistency and credibility of the figures are the be-all and end-all here. I would recommend everyone to calculate the financial part in a separate Excel (I will provide a template for this in the coming days!) And the most important key figures using screenshots or to be inserted into the business plan as graphics. The following points should be created in any case:

Assumptions / hypotheses

There are a number of assumptions and hypotheses behind every financial plan. You must have put a lot of thought into calculating the numbers – share them with the reader, this is the only way to understand the financial plan.

Profit and Loss Account

The heart of the financing is the income statement. In any case, you should plan for 5 years and calculate all income and expenses. At the end of the day, the profit and loss account without actual numbers is pure coffee brewing. The readers of the business plan know that too. Here, therefore, the logic and realism in particular are questioned and a main focus is placed on costs.

Investment planning

What investments are made, in what amounts and why? Here also on min. 5 year planning and calculations. Investments are, for example, machines, devices, fixed assets, buildings, etc.

Personnel planning

Here you explain your personnel planning for the next 5 years. Where should resources be built up? How high will the salaries of the individual employees be? Are these in line with the market? Are there employee participation schemes that justify low salaries?

Liquidity plan & capital requirements

The best way to do this is to calculate a cash flow calculation over 5 years. This results in the capital requirement for your company and you have to explain how you want to cover this capital requirement (investment, credit, crowdfunding, etc.)

How long does it take to create a business plan?

Anyone who has read this far will notice that writing a business plan is a very extensive project and cannot be done quickly on the side. Based on my own experience, the creation of the business plan takes around 3-4 weeks if you write the business plan in your free time. If you can devote yourself to the business plan full-time, you should be ready in about a week.

Does a business plan have to be written?

Of course, there is no need to write a business plan. More and more often you even hear the suggestion not to waste your time creating the business plan and an extensive pitch deck is absolutely sufficient.

From my own experience, however, I can only advise all founders to draw up a business plan. This makes you much more aware of your business idea and gives you a much better, more objective view of the idea. In addition, individual gaps in the planning or in the idea itself are revealed during the creation process. That helped me a lot in developing the Flaterio business idea.

Conclusion

Writing a business plan is a real mammoth project and takes a lot of time. Every business plan follows a similar structure and almost always includes an executive summary, a description of the product / service and explanations about the company and management. In addition, the market & competition, marketing & sales and financing must be described in detail in the business plan. Nevertheless, the creation of a business plan for founders is highly recommended, as you can deal with your idea so intensively and develop it further.

The free business plan template also provides further tips, information and assistance in the document.

Download the business plan template now for free

An extensive, award-winning template with lots of tips and aids to fill out.
Download now!

By entering your email address, you agree to receive email notifications. You can revoke your consent at any time by clicking on “Unsubscribe” at the end of the message. You can find more information on data protection here .