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“They know what you can expect sales to be for that type of business in that market,” Allen says.“If you walk in with a sales forecast 50% higher than other businesses, they are going to know that you are not being realistic, and that’s going to work against you.” Keep it concise: All you need is 15 to 25 pages for a good business plan, as long as the plan is clear, concise and contains all of the relevant information, Allen says.“It’s OK to be optimistic if you can justify it,” Allen says.
If writing and editing aren’t your strong suit, you may want to hire a professional business plan writer, copy editor or proofreader.But you should also address the various risk factors of the business, Allen says.“The loan officer is definitely going to want to know that you’ve thought through all of the potential risks and that you’ve mitigated those risks in some way,” he says.To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. A strong, detailed plan provides a clear road map for the future, forces you to think through the validity of a business idea, and can give you much greater understanding of your business’s financials and the competition. It spells out exactly what you’d like to accomplish, both in the near term and over the long term.A business plan typically looks out over three to five years, detailing all of your goals and how you plan to achieve them. If you’re looking for outside funding, you can use this section to explain why you have a clear need for the funds, how the financing will help your business grow, and how you plan to achieve your growth targets. [Back to top] This section provides a snapshot of your small business. It should include a mission statement, which explains the main focus of your business, as well as a brief description of the products or services offered, basic information such as ownership structure, and a summary of your plans.If you’re applying for a loan or looking for investors, a business plan shows you’re prepared and have fully vetted your business idea, says Craig Allen, a financial advisor who teaches business plan writing classes at Southern New Hampshire University. The key is to provide a clear explanation of the opportunity presented and how the loan or investment will grow your company.“If you have no financial forecast, which is part of the business plan, it’s very difficult to show the bank how you are going to repay the loan,” Allen says. For example, if your business is launching a second product line, you might explain how the loan will help your company launch the new product and increase its sales by 50% over the next three years.It outlines how your business will generate enough profit to repay the loan or how you will earn a decent return for investors.Here, you’ll provide your business’s monthly or quarterly sales, expenses and profit estimates over at least a three-year period — with the future numbers assuming you’ve obtained a new loan.