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This is how you write a business plan: structure, structure, content

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The business plan is primarily a tool for founders - perhaps the most important one in the start-up phase of the company - regardless of whether it is a tech startup or a business start-up from unemployment. The business idea is clearly formulated in the business plan, it is written in black and white which (financial) resources are required, and potential customers and target groups are clearly defined. And finally, the business plan is the measure against which founders can measure themselves - by regularly reviewing and adjusting the goals formulated in it.

Because this document is so important, we will show you how to best prepare a business plan, which structure you have to consider and which formats you should adhere to. Answers to the following questions await you:

  • Structure and content: How is a business plan structured and what does it say?
  • How do you write an executive summary?
  • What content belongs in the text part of a business plan?
  • How does the financial plan have to be structured within a business plan?
  • Selling arguments: What additional motivations can you give investors?
  • Language, form and style - how do you formulate a business plan correctly?
  • Business plan tools - how can this help you with the creation?

Structure and content: How is a business plan structured and what does it say?

Even if there are no binding rules for the structure, it is important that the business plan has a clear structure. In addition to the classic content and structure, there are various specialized variants, for example take a look at the business plan for the bank - it has to be used for a company loan or the smallest business plan in the world - on a beer mat.

This is the structure that you should be aware of in any case:

Chapter 1: Your idea, offer and target group

Which problem does your idea solve - and how? Describing your product in splendid words, formulating your offer as specifically as possible and tailored it to your target group - this is where you score as innovators.

Chapter 2: Market Analysis and Competition

How big is your market, what is the market volume? Which competitors do you have (name / offer), what could be difficult when entering the market? And why are you better than the others (price? Offer? Quality? Service? Speed? Etc)? Here you have to score points with an extensive market analysis.

Chapter 3: Your Vision and Goals

Your company is still more of an idea than anything else ... that's why you should invest a lot of effort and time in the presentation of your visions and goals. Where should the journey go, how should your startup develop, in the short / medium / long term)? That is your most important point.

Chapter 4: Your Strategy

Which strategy do you want to use to position yourself in the market - how do you convince your customers? How do you want to get the market? Which measures will ensure growth?

Chapter 5: Your Marketing

It doesn't work without marketing: What measures are you planning, what experiences have you already gained? Are there media partnerships, how do you use the many channels? Also, don't forget to come up with a budget and a plan.

Chapter 6: Legal Form & Taxes

What legal form should your company have, what permits do you need, what is the company name - everything at a glance.

Chapter 7: Founding Team and Organization

How are you organized, what structures do you still want to build, who is already there, who should join, you put the entire team and your (planned) organization here.

Chapter 8: Budget or "The Numbers Part"

Where do you stand, what money do you need, how should the income flow, when is break even ... the reader wants to see a clear view of your money flows in the financial plan.

Chapter 9: Analyzing Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Honesty is a must: Investors don't want a pink maybe but a tough SWOT analysis: Show your strengths and weaknesses, formulate the opportunities and risks and show how you want to get the weaknesses under control.

Chapter 10: Executive Summary

The executive summary summarizes all essential contents of your business plan, is written at the end of the business planbut then placed at the beginning of the business plan. Approx. 1-2 pages long it gives the reader an overview of the start-up project.

Writing the business plan is easier and well-structured with templates or software that guides you through the individual points. Here you will find the most important business plan tools 2021 »

The entry into the business plan: Executive Summary

The business plan begins with an executive summary, in which the essential points of the start-up project are described. The start decides whether the business plan is read on: It must arouse curiosity, but may be formulated soberly and should contain all relevant facts.
You can find detailed instructions for the Executive Summary here: The Executive Summary for the business plan - in 5 steps to a convincing summary of your business idea.

Founding council

Only write the executive summary at the end, when the business plan is in place!

Business plan: That belongs in the text section

The text part of the business plan begins with a chapter in which the business project is explained in more detail. There is room for visions here when the start-up idea and the planned company are described. The chapter should contain answers to the following questions: Which product / service is offered at which price? How do customers benefit from this? What is the legal form of the company? Where do you start? What are the legal frameworks like?

The team in the business plan

The business plan must of course state who is founding a company. The personality of the founder is essential for success. In this chapter, in addition to the motivation for self-employment, the professional and entrepreneurial skills the founders bring with them.

Potential and existing customers

Without customers, the best business idea is a bogus. A large part of the business plan therefore deals with market and competition analysis. Knowing the industry and the market is extremely important. A proper market analysis proves with solid facts and figures whether the planned business can be successful.

Sales, sales, sales

The marketing and sales concept shows in detail which measures are to be used to develop the target group and which costs are calculated for this.

Honest analysis

Anyone who founds a company well is not only aware of the opportunities, but also of the risks. This chapter of the business plan is about realistically assessing the chances of success. Any obstacles belong here as well as the opportunities that arise in the future.

Financial planning - the numbers part: the backbone of the business plan

Serious financial planning is the backbone of the business plan. This lists exactly what financial resources are available and how much capital is required. It also lists all of the costs, and there will be one Liquidity forecast created. Founders should pay particular attention to the Profitability planning and on the Investment planning lay: They are not only interesting for potential donors, but also important for founders themselves in order to check the economic development of the company.

It is always important how you do yours own income calculated and that presented. Financial planning without any money to live on is seen as unrealistic. You can read how this works in the specialist article Writing a business plan: This is how you calculate your entrepreneur's wages.

Prospects, milestones, PR on your own behalf

Finally, the business plan deals with prospects and milestones. Here should the Perspectives be honestly pointed out and in be on a schedulewith which steps are necessary and when so that the foundation is successful.

Graphics, diagrams, references, certificates and résumés are collected in the attachments of the business plan so that the text section is not overloaded.

The language: How is a business plan formulated?

A business plan must be formulated in a clear and understandable way so that laypeople understand the founding idea. Foreign words and industry jargon should be avoided if possible. Arguments can be substantiated more credibly with a serious and factual style of language than with exuberant and emotional statements. Even if different people have worked on it, the business plan should be linguistically uniform: Therefore, final editing is recommended.

Business plan form & scope: What does a business plan look like?

The eye reads along - this also applies to the business plan. The layout should be elegant and clear. This includes short paragraphs, margins that are not too tight, and legible fonts. In the formatting less is more:

  • One font for the normal text and another for headings and legends is usually sufficient.
  • Headers and footers with company names (if they already exist) and
  • Page numbers are mandatory.

The scope of a business plan depends on the start-up project. The more complex the project and the industry, the more extensive the plan should be. Have proven to be ideal Business plans with a length of 20 to 25 pages proven, whereby “outliers” are possible upwards and downwards. However, you should have a serious business plan not less than 15 and not more than 30 pages to have.

Help with creating the business plan: templates, templates and free business plan tools

There are now really great (and mostly free!) Templates and business plan tools that help you to write a good business plan - they provide the structure, remind you of important content and provide ready-made designs.