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Why every start-up needs a good business plan, and what it should include

By David Schwartz
Published: February 4th, 2015

 In his recent article for Entrepreneur, start-up advisor Martin Zwilling tells founders that if you want to get any kind of funding whatsoever, you need a real business plan. “Don’t believe the Silicon Valley myth that all you have to do is sketch your million-dollar idea on the back of a napkin and investors will line up to give you money,” Zwilling writes. “Based on my experience as an investor and mentor to aspiring entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, one of the quickest ways to kill your credibility and your start-up is to offer a poorly written business plan, or none at all.”

That being said, it is relatively easy to do, especially given the current availability of business plan samples on the internet, how-to books in every bookstore and dozens of apps designed to ease the process.

A good business plan also doesn’t have to be a book in length, nor does it need to be filled with extensive financial statements. Zwilling says the ideal plan is about 25 pages long, more than enough room to concisely describe your business, your team, your partners and investors. “In fact,” says Zwilling, “the process of organizing and documenting these elements is the best way to make sure you understand the answers yourself.”

There is no one business plan formula for every start-up to follow. However, Zwilling recommends the following ten sections in sequence:

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Problem and solution
  3. Company description
  4. Market opportunity
  5. Business model
  6. Competition analysis
  7. Marketing and sales strategy
  8. Management team
  9. Financial projections
  10. Exit strategy

“There are no guarantees,” Zwilling concludes, “but various studies have found that entrepreneurs who create a good plan generally double their chances of securing funding and building a successful business. In any context, and especially in the high-risk world of start-ups where more than 50 percent fail, you need every advantage that you can get.”

Source: Entrepreneur

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