Napa Sonoma SBDCSanta Rosa and Napa, California

Writing a Business Plan

A business plan is critical in that it communicates the important facts about your business. The size of the business plan depends on your business and how you will use the plan, but is typically 6-12 pages, plus appendices that include financial projections and other pertinent information. 

A business plan provides you with a pathway to profitability, and allows you to focus on critical questions essential to your businesses stability and growth. A business plan offers at least four primary benefits:

  • A path to follow; it can help you make your business what you want it to be.
  • A communication vehicle to your employees and future customers.
  • Development as a manager; helping you to focus on your competition and opportunities.
  • Providing your banker with insight into your goals and objectives.

The thought process you undergo as you complete your plan helps you identify critical issues and questions, and develop effective means of dealing with those questions and issues. Above all, the business plan is a strategy which prepares you to manage your business, rather than allowing your business to manage you. A successful business plan is realistic, factual and objective, presenting your goals in measurable and attainable terms. Business plans take many forms and will vary in length, but more important than any specific format is the presentation of ideas in a clear and concise manner. 

All successful plans communicate the following information clearly and concisely:

  • The nature of your business
  • The goals and objectives of your business
  • The steps you need to take to achieve your goals and objectives
  • An action plan for implementing these steps
  • Major potential problems and strategies for overcoming these problems

An effective business plan also answers a variety of specific questions, such as:

  • What service or product does your business provide and what needs does the product or service fill?
  • Who are the potential customers for your product or service? Why will they purchase the product or service from you?
  • How will you market to potential customers?
  • Who are your principal competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Who are the principal participants in your business? What are their skills and strengths? What management skills are weak, and where will you obtain these skills?
  • What are the current financial resources of your company? What is the projected financial condition of your company over time?

NEXT STEPS

  • If you need to get started, sign up for a Napa-Sonoma start-up classes (look for start-up orientation or business plan)
  • If you are finished or substantially underway with your business plan, contact the Napa-Sonoma SBDC Office at 707-595-0060 (Santa Rosa) or 707-256-7253 (Napa) or complete the online application.

WRITING RESOURCES

 

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Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA or HSU Sponsored Programs Foundation.