Have a wonderful idea for a new business or brand? One of the hardest things to do is to transfer ideas from your head to the paper, and organize it in a coherent manner. Business plans can be tricky- you want to make them formal enough so that it passes the smell test for potential investors, but you do not want to water down your plan or make your idea less fun and unique while in the process of putting the details together. You want your startup to stand out, but you will need a blueprint to put it together. This is doable- but it will require following a few tips. Here are five tips for putting together a business plan.

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1. State Your Purpose- the WHY for what you are doing

This is one of the most important parts of any business plan, pitch, or presentation. If you cannot explain why you are going through the effort of trying to start a new business, it is probably not worth doing. Make an elevator pitch- explain why one should be interested in your business in just a few sentences.

2. Understand Your Audience

Who is the intended audience of your business plan? If it is just for yourself, you don’t have to worry about this, but the best business plans will be understandable for a wide range of audiences. This is especially important if you are planning on pitching your business to investors- they are often the target audience for such a business plan, but they are not the only ones. You might want to show it to friends, colleagues, and potential customers- you never know who might be interested. It is therefore best to make your plan readable for a wide range of audiences, and understand what your audiences are looking for.

3. Come Prepared With Market Research and Competitive Analysis

If you want to impress not only potential investors but any readers, it is best to come prepared with some data right off the bat. Do some research into your market or potential markets, and who your competitors may be. You want to make readers of your business plan understand the field you are going into, and what advantages your company will have over the competition. You may have to adapt later and conduct new research, but that is OK. Start with a good idea of what you are going into, and make your audience understand that you have a good idea.

4. Have a Potential Timeline On Hand

Chances are, starting a successful new company won’t happen an instant, it will take hard work over a certain period of time. You aren’t going to know exactly how long things will take, and that is OK, but you should set some goals to start. Try separating your plans into phases; for example, in phase I you will gather a team of workers and create a website, in phase 2 you will open a shop and begin selling your product to customers, and in phase III, you will acquire additional funding and scale up your business.

5. Create Roles for Your New Team