The structure of the plan

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1. The structure of the plan

Organise what ought to be in the plan before you start writing it.
This will save you a lot of editing later on as you realise that you
have put something in thewrong logical place or the wrong place
for the flow of your narrative.
It also helps to write down the key headings – leaving plenty
of space between the headings – and then to jot down a list of thekey issues that should be in the section. These may become
sub-headings in your plan but they don’t have to.
For example, we wanted to establish a new chain of
bookshops in the UK so we might havehad the following first list
of headings for key issues:
• the market background;
• why we are different;
• the management team;
• operational details;
• the proposals;
• forecasts;
• exitstrategy.
This was an existing and a mature market: one that the potential
readers of our business plan would think they knew well because
they would be users of bookshops. Clearly we needed toexplain
how the market operated, in order to correct any misconceptions.
Then we needed to convince them that we could make a
successful new entry into this well-established marketplace with
somethingdifferent. In order to complete this it was essential
to explain why we were a particularly strong management team
and also to explain how the ‘mechanics’ of the trade worked,
since this was wherewe proposed to introduce innovations.
From there the issues to be covered followed a fairly standard
pattern, covering the proposal itself, what we hoped to achieve
(the forecasts) and howinvestors would get their return (exit
Within the operational details section, for example, our
sub-headings were:
• customers;
• products;
• the supply chain;
• systems.
We had to explainwho our customers were – and were not – in
order to persuade the reader why we would get more customers
than our competitors.
Under the product sub-heading we covered our product
range: the most...
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