The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan
Thursday, January 2, 2014
planning to start a business, grow an existing business, or start a
nonprofit? Wherever you are in your journey, developing a plan to guide
you to a successful business operation is critical. Nearly 50 percent of
new businesses fail within five years. A well thought-out business plan
can dramatically turn the odds in your favor. "The Secrets to Writing a
Success Business Plan” author and SCORE mentor Hal Shelton suggests following
his 12 commandments for writing a business plan.
A business plan is a marketing action.
Know your audience, and write the plan in a style and with
information they need for the action(s) you want them to take.
Business planning should focus on the customer, not on the
A small business is usually a bet on the entrepreneur, so provide
a biography that demonstrates you have the technical and leadership experience
to drive your idea to success. Either demonstrate you have the experience or
you have surrounded yourself with others who have it.
The executive summary is the most important plan section. It
delivers the message and sets the tone. It should be enthusiastic, concise,
professional, and no more than two pages long.
Have sales goals that are supported by research and an actionable
Request funding in the amount you truly need, and support your
request with financial statements.
Use of funding proceeds should be primarily for investments,
purchases, and marketing activities that will generate the products, services
Surround yourself with advisors and mentors, and talk through your
business ideas with them.
A business plan is never perfect and never finished, so do not
procrastinate writing it or obsess about creating the ideal plan. At some
point, you need to stop writing and start satisfying a customer need and making
It is all about the money.
Focus, Focus, Focus.
stage in your business, writing or refining your business plan can help take
you to the next level. If you are looking for assurance that you are
headed in the right direction, seeking help with a section of your business
plan that you do not understand, feeling that a section of your business plan
is not robust enough and want pointers, or want to learn where and how to apply
for funding, take a look at Hal’s new book "The
Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan.” Entrepreneurs should
use resources available to them, and work with mentors and advisors to help
support them throughout their endeavor.
Vice President, Marketing and Communications