That does not mean you have to bust out Word and start the plan from scratch. A template is great--you probably are not doing anything that has not been done before, so it provides a proven structure for your plan. Pretty much everything on it can be customized.
Operating Plan. The operating plan outlines the physical requirements of your business, such as office, warehouse, or retail space, equipment, inventory and supply needs, labor, etc. For a one-person, home-based consulting business the operating plan will be short and simple, but for a business such as a restaurant or manufacturer that requires custom facilities, supply chains, specialized equipment, and multiple employees, the operating plan needs to be much more detailed.
Financial Plan. The financial plan section is the most important section of the business plan, especially if you need debt financing or wish to attract investors. The financial plan has to demonstrate that your business will grow and be profitable. To do this you will need to create projected income statements, cash flow statements, and balance sheets. For a new business, these are forecasts, and a good rule of thumb is to underestimate revenues and overestimate expenses.
It is definitely not the most exciting part of starting a business. In fact, if you are like a lot of entrepreneurs, you are probably going to find yourself pulling a few all-nighters to get one done before heading into your first pitch for funding. Because that is the thing--your business plan is a pretty important.
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