Set In Stone

The best-laid business plans...
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the June 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

You wouldn't set out on a journey without a map, right? So why would you start a business without a plan? "A business plan provides a road map for a company and its executives to follow," says Bill Crookston, an associate professor for the Entrepreneur Program at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

A business plan isn't just for your own peace of mind, however; investors will demand it when you search for funding. Your start-up plan should focus on marketing and financial information and must portray a route your company intends to follow--financiers could withdraw credit if you don't meet your goals, Crookston says. And forget about hiring an expert to do it for you; each entrepreneur should create his or her own plan, he stresses.

With that in mind, the following three points should be addressed when drawing up your plan:

1. The management: Who makes up the team? What are their titles? What is their experience? According to Crookston, this is often the most important piece of information for financiers.

2. The market: Who are your customers? What is the benefit of your product or service?

3. Financials: What is your projected profit and loss, projected cash flow and, in some cases, projected balance sheet?

Then, keeping it at less than 30 pages, flesh out the plan: Use information that includes descriptions of your product, supplier relationships and inside operations. You should also include plans for action, growth and contingency.

The final step is to create your on-ramp: a brief overview of the plan placed at the front. Then buckle up--you're on your way.

Contact Sources

Bill Crookston, Entrepreneur Program, University of Southern California School of Business Administration,

More from Entrepreneur

Get heaping discounts to books you love delivered straight to your inbox. We’ll feature a different book each week and share exclusive deals you won’t find anywhere else.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Starting, buying, or growing your small business shouldn’t be hard. Guidant Financial works to make financing easy for current and aspiring small business owners by providing custom funding solutions, financing education, and more.

Latest on Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Media, Inc. values your privacy. In order to understand how people use our site generally, and to create more valuable experiences for you, we may collect data about your use of this site (both directly and through our partners). By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the use of that data. For more information on our data policies, please visit our Privacy Policy.