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5 things you should know and do before writing a business plan

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There are many articles on what to include in your business plan. But what about before you even start writing it? Are there things you should know? Information you need to collect? Things to consider? Sure. Below you will learn five things you should know and do before you sit down to write your business plan:

1. Your business plan is a marketing document

The first thing to understand before writing your business plan is that your plan is a marketing document. It’s not a 50-page file explaining everything there is to know about your business. Rather, the purpose of the document is to convince others such as investors, lenders, partners, employees, etc. to invest their time, money and/or resources in your company.

So your plan is a marketing document. It should prompt readers to take the actions you want them to take. So, instead of presenting a data dump where you list every possible fact about your industry, you can focus on specifying the most relevant facts and, more importantly, discussing how those facts make your business even more likely to succeed has.

Related: 7 steps to a perfectly written business plan

2. Conduct market research

Before you start writing your business plan, you should also do market research. This includes gathering information about potential customers, competitors, and industry size and trends.

The purpose of this research is twofold: First, it helps you understand the competitive landscape you’re entering. Second, it helps you build a solid and compelling strategy and properly position your company to readers as a company poised for success.

Much of the market research you need is readily available. Look at industry associations or vertical websites that analyze your industry. For example, if you are looking to research for a business plan to start a vending machine business, make use of sites such as Vending Mavericks.

3. Calculate your precise use of financing

Most business plans are presented to funding sources such as banks, angel investors or venture capitalists in hopes of raising capital. One of the main questions these funding sources will ask is how much funding you need and what it will be used for.

Before you develop your plan, get a good grasp of this answer. This requires conducting market research. For example, if you plan to hire a new VP of sales with funding, research the annual salaries of such positions in your geographic area and/or market. Likewise, if your funding is to build a restaurant, you should talk to and get quotes from interior designers, contractors, and equipment suppliers, among others, so you have solid estimates of the costs you’ll encounter.

Related: The Essential Guide to Writing a Business Plan

4. Collect historical financial data and develop financial forecasts

If you’re writing a business plan for an existing business, you’ll need to collect all of your historical financial data. That includes past income statements and your current balance sheet.

For both existing and new businesses, your plan should also include financial projections. These projections include income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements covering five years. Importantly, these projections should give investors and lenders confidence that if they provide the financing you request, your company will be able to repay the money (if it is a loan) from corporate profits or over time acquire a huge value (if it is an investment in shares). the investor can later sell his share for a significant profit.

5. Determine how your business is uniquely qualified to succeed

Finally, you must determine how your business is uniquely qualified to succeed. This involves analyzing your competitive advantages and discussing how they will help you achieve success, despite the challenges that may stand in your way.

For example, if you’re entering a crowded market with dozens of competitors, discuss what makes your company’s product or service different from theirs and why it’s important. Or if you have a long-term relationship with an established partner or customer, discuss what that means for your business and how it will help you secure additional resources, customers or profits in the future. Likewise, you may be uniquely qualified to succeed based on intellectual property you have or quality employees you have hired.

Importantly, you must recognize that the most successful companies have unique success qualities. Think about every important aspect of your company, your team, products, services, marketing plan, operations, etc., and figure out what it takes to be uniquely qualified to succeed in each of these areas.

Related: How to Prepare and Write the Perfect Business Plan for Your Business

Anyone can write a business plan. But writing a business plan that achieves your goals is much more challenging. Those goals could include raising funding, convincing a company to partner with you, or developing a solid roadmap for success. Either way, knowing and doing the five things listed above will help you build a winning business plan and achieve lasting success.


Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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