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Business Owner's Handbook: How to Write a Business Plan

Updated: Feb 27

A business plan is a living, written document that describes in detail how a business is going to achieve its goals. It is a road map that provides marketing, financial, and operational direction, so that your small business can avoid many of the bumps in the road along the way. It is also extremely helpful when seeking investors or financial help, because it allows people to visualize the opportunity your business provides.

small business owner's map and travel docs laid out representing a business plan

In this edition of the Business Owner's Handbook, we are going to provide a quick and easy guide to small business planning. While much of this guide is focused on the overall creation of a business plan, you can easily pick and choose which sections you feel would benefit you business most.

It isn't much of a secret for those who follow our business guides and blogs that we have a very solid love / hate relationships with business plans. We often refer to the idea that this is the end all, be all document as The Business Plan Fallacy.


So, what exactly are the components of a business plan? According to the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Small Business Development Center (SBDC), there are several key components of a business plan that you should be aware of.

As a small business coach, we've reviewed quite a number of business plans and the ones that we found to be the most thorough and helpful had these things included:

1. Executive Summary

The Executive Summary is just that, a summary. It's a short dive into what your business idea is, the market opportunity, and how you intend to make it succeed.

Basic template for the cover of an executive summary
Executive Summary Example

You'll want to include brief information regarding the financials and the management team's experience, but don't worry, you'll be able to go more in depth later on. Focus on providing the information that you think provide the critical information you would want an investor to know.

Don't provide too much information or description, you only have a maximum of three pages for the summary. You'll need to fight the urge to "sell" your idea here in the executive summary. The entire business plan is the sales pitch, you'll have plenty of opportunity to fit in all the information that makes your idea amazing.