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Originally published by Inman. 

One of the most difficult parts of writing a business plan is simply getting started. In short, a business plan is a written description of the future of your business — a document that includes what your plans and goals are, and how you’ll go about accomplishing them.

No matter how big or small your business is, creating a business plan is a vital step for any entrepreneur to take. Think of it as a roadmap that you can use to chart the course of your business.

At the outset, it’s almost impossible to predict all of the changes and curveballs that the year will throw at you, as 2020 showed us. That’s why it’s important to periodically review and update your business plan. Here are a few tips for getting started.

1. Executive summary

It’s crucial to start with what you know. Starting with an executive summary will give you a head start on your business plan for 2021. 

This section is one of the most important parts of your plan. Therefore, your summary should be convincing and brief (no more than a page), while attracting the reader’s attention. Include a clear description of exactly what services your team offers and what, if any, areas you specialize in. 

The executive summary should hit the high points of the business plan, and that’s why you should write it last, after you have completed even the financial portion. It should point out section numbers or page numbers that indicate where to find more information. It should include, but is not limited to, the following items:

  • Type of business
  • Business structure
  • Management and key employee background
  • Type of service you offer and how (or if) it’s unique
  • Target market and its size
  • Marketing strategy (are you differentiating yourself from the competition?)
  • Financing and financial structure

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