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10 Tips for Writing a Business Plan

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10 Tips for Writing a Business Plan

Many entrepreneurs and business owners make mistakes when they rush to start a business before considering important details.

A great business plan can help you anticipate important issues and possible challenges before you start your business.

In fact, studies show that entrepreneurs who take the time to write a business plan are 2.5 times more likely to follow through and get their business off the ground.

Here are 10 tips to help you write a great business plan.

1. Learn from other entrepreneurs and business owners

Start by reading as many business plans as you can get your hands on.

-Search the tables of contents and consider which parts are relevant to your business.

-Flip to the index and see how well organized and granular it is.

-Check out any exhibits or charts and consider how your business plan could benefit from similar exhibits or charts.

Remember, you’re not reinventing the wheel here. For example, you can get a free business plan template for a traditional business plan and a one-page business plan.

There have been many who did this before you and you can benefit from their experience and expertise.

2. Be prepared and do your homework

Don’t mess around – research everything.


If you expect to be the market leader in 2 years, you need to demonstrate why this is possible and how you’ll meet this goal.

If you say your product will be viral, you have to support this statement with facts.

If you say your management team is experienced and qualified to help the business succeed, you have to support that claim with resumes that demonstrate the experience.

It’s easy to lose credibility – and investors – if you’re making claims you can’t fully support.

Need specific insights on how to write a great business plan?

Read this definitive guide on how to write a business plan. You’ll learn about each section of the business plan, from the executive summary to the appendix, and you’ll be able to download free business plan templates for a simple one-page business plan and a traditional plan, and other important templates, including a SWOT analysis template, sales forecast template, profit and loss template, cash flow template, and a balance sheet template.

3. Know your market and your competition

Some business owners avoid talking about potential competitors.

This is a mistake.

Unless you’re creating a new industry, you will have competitors. And you’ll need to figure out how to beat them or at least to compete with them.

To understand your competitors and the industry, you’ll need to do market research.

Invest some time and effort and do it correctly. A business can’t succeed if the owners don’t understand their industry, target customers, or the competition.

4. The table of contents is your friend

The TOC is your outline for the plan.

Take your time with it; make sure you are including all of the relevant topics.

At a minimum, your plan should include sections on the company you are forming, your marketing plan, financial information, and your go-to-market and growth strategy.

Look to other business plans for inspiration.

5. Don’t give away your secrets when sharing your business plan

If you plan to share your business plan with potential investors, bankers, or others, require confidentiality.

And make sure you cover yourself with a strong disclaimer. The last thing you want is for a potential investor or partner to claim that your business plan misrepresented your business.

6. Write a strong executive summary

People are busy. Few read 50-page business plans. Even fewer read 100-page business plans.

Most will read only the executive summary and flip through other sections of your business plan.

This creates both a challenge and an opportunity.

If your executive summary is strong, you increase the prospects to have a further conversation with a potential investor or partner to make your pitch in person.

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7. Know your audience

Who will be reading your plan?

Is it written for investors? For potential partners or board members? For a bank to get a small business loan?

Anticipate the kinds of questions those people will want to be answered and answer those questions. For example, if your audience includes bankers, think like a banker and write what they would need to see to fund your business.

A great business plan will show that you have thought through your business idea clearly and have developed a plan to develop the idea into a sustainable and profitable business.

8. Make the business plan readable

A great business plan should be compelling, interesting, informative, and exciting.

Make sure that you include detail, but not so much that people are overwhelmed.

Use appendices for the details and anything else (like resumes) that would bog down the body of the plan.

Do a careful edit for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and voice.

Get a second (and third) set of eyes to give you constructive feedback.

Do not be stingy with charts, graphics, illustrations, and tables. They are great ways to present detailed information in a digestible form.

9. Use Pro-formas wisely

People interested in your business plan will want to see projections of your performance, your costs, and your anticipated growth.

But, they are sophisticated enough to recognize when those numbers have been arrived at based on real data compared to when you simply make up the numbers.

So, be conservative in all financial estimates and projections. If you think you’ll get a 25% share of your market in 2 years, hint at those numbers but assume you’ll get only a 5% share for purposes of your financial projections.

One good approach is to show the best, worst, and most likely scenarios for sales and growth.

10. Keep it simple

Keep your language simple and use readable fonts and a clean layout.

And, let your personality show. If you believe in what you’re writing, your passion will show in the final product.

And at the end of the day, remember that most people don’t invest in a business plan.

Most people invest in a person.



Ross Kimbarovsky is founder and CEO at crowdspring, where more than 220,000 experienced freelancers help agencies, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and non-profits with high-quality custom logo design, web design, graphic design, product design, and company naming services. Ross mentors entrepreneurs through TechStars and Founder Institute, was honored as one of Techweek100′s top technology leaders and business visionaries, and enjoys wearing shorts to work after a successful 13-year career as a trial lawyer. Ross has founded numerous other startups, including Startup Foundry, Quickly Legal, and Respect.


What Do Consumers Want Now? The Data Knows.

Businesses seem to know more about you than you know about yourself.

Sign up for or log into any social media platform and you will encounter suggested buying options based on your personal interests or previous buying history.

There’s a reason for that. The market is a consumers’ market. Any company that wants the chance of long-term sustainability must know as much detailed information as possible about their ideal client or consumer, says Janét Aizenstros, Chairwoman & CEO of Ahava Digital Group (, a women-led digital consultancy that serves Fortune and multinational media companies in 15 locations globally using data and technology.

And it’s not just the business sector. Government agencies, political parties and private equity investors make decisions every day based on what data reveals to them about a person’s income, financial and buying habits, credit history, political identification, demographics, personal values, lifestyle, emotional sentiments, voting history, opinions and modeled behavior.

“Without good, verified data, decision-makers would have to rely on guesswork as they introduce products and services, plan an election campaign, or determine whether a community needs their next real estate project,” says Aizenstros, whose company gathers and provides ethically verified data to Fortune corporations seeking to nurture relationships with women consumers.

“Guesswork obviously is not the best approach, especially when millions of dollars are involved.” 

How do businesses use verified data to make short-term and long-term decisions for their consumers’ needs?

“Ideally, personal milestones change a person’s buying habits,” Aizenstros says. “Examples are highlights of becoming a new parent, moving to a new home, or getting married. If a business knows you’ve just had a baby, then they know you need car seats, toys, diapers and a host of other products they can market to you.”

Consumer data carries great value to businesses, but only if it’s verified, refreshed frequently and keeps up with data and privacy legislation changes by data being ethically-sourced, Aizenstros says.

Here are a few ways data is used to keep the economy, and the world in general, humming along:

Auto industryCar dealers need a good understanding of their potential customers’ income and what vehicles they might prefer based on lifestyle. GM, Ford, and others draw insights from consumer financial data and lifestyle data as they plan and implement marketing campaigns for new models.

Fashion industry. The fashion industry’s new focus is sustainability to capture the growing trend of fashionistas. The retail industry pre-COVID relied more on the human experience than the ecommerce experience for their consumers to make decisions. But now Estée Lauder, for example, has accelerated its focus on e-commerce because of the pandemic’s disruption to brick-and-mortar stores. With verified and predictive consumer data, fashion brands can quickly measure how customers react to ideas and make prompt adjustments accordingly.

Real estate. Real estate developers are always trying to figure out which areas of a community to focus on for their next investment. If they are slow to identify trends, they could miss out on making money. Data helps them monitor, for example, which areas of a city are showing a growing trend in mortgages and credit history.

Financial institutions. Financial institutions use data in such areas as credit-risk assessments or to send targeted offers of investment products to consumers.

“The reason obtaining ethically-sourced, verified data is so important to corporations is that they want to maximize their ad spend by diminishing their burn-and-churn rates,” Aizenstros says. “They need to know who their ideal client is and what they exactly want so the business can maximize their marketing investment by more than 90%.”


Janét Aizenstros is Chairwoman & CEO of Ahava Group Global (, a modern media parent company that serves Fortune and multinational media companies in 15 locations globally. Her background includes roles in finance at TD Canada Trust, Canon, and Brookfield LePage Johnson Controls, along with management consulting in a broad range of functions, such as supply chain operations and data analysis. Aizenstros is a signatory with the United Nations Business Action Hub for the United Nations Global Compact program. She is an award-winning businesswoman with several leadership awards such as the Top 40 under 40, the Top 10 Inspiring Women in Canada, and 2019 Conscious Company Media’s Top 22 Business Leaders.


Made Dizzy By COVID-19 Data? Artificial Intelligence Helps Clear Things Up.

As governors begin to make decisions about reopening the economy, Americans are left to wonder whether they should follow their state government’s lead – or make their own decisions about when to return to normal.

One problem for the average person: How to decipher the multitudes of data about COVID-19 and evaluate whether the country or any particular state is – or is not – flattening the curve.

“It’s easy to find tons of data online with charts and graphs, but all those numbers can be overwhelming,” says Sharon Daniels, chief executive officer of Arria (, which specializes in a form of artificial intelligence known as Natural Language Generation (NLG). “You see a line on a graph, but what is it telling you?”

Daniels’ company is among those trying to simplify that complex chore for Americans, using artificial intelligence to transform that raw data into an easy-to-understand narrative. To this end, Arria is involved with two online initiatives – the COVID-19 Live Report and the COVID-19 U.S. Tracking Report – that give Americans access to NLG as they try to grasp all the information coming their way from scientists, government officials, and the media.

Each of these free dashboards allows anyone – from government leaders to journalists to citizens – to review up-to-date COVID-19 data, along with critical insights transformed into writing by Arria’s Natural Language Generation software. The software uses language analytics and computational linguistics to “think” like a writer, pulling the most important information to the top of the narrative, providing critical insights, and giving meaning to the tabulated reports and visualizations.

Just as an example, a resident of Pulaski County, KY, who checked in on April 23 would have learned that in their community the previous day “there were 2 new cases and no deaths reported. During the past 7 days, cases have increased by 7, which means the seven-day rolling average for cases is 1.”

No human wrote those sentences. They were penned automatically by the NLG software.

As Arria and others do their part to help Americans work their way through the sea of information, there is evidence that such assistance is both needed and wanted:

Gallup poll shows lots of confusion about the state of the virus in the U.S., with Americans reaching no consensus on how they think things now stand; 41 percent say the situation is getting better, 39 percent say it is getting worse, and 20 percent say it is staying the same.

A 2017 study of the U.S. public’s understanding of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa found that most people are good at assessing risk when information is communicated accurately and effectively. That study also found that Americans want accurate and honest information, even if that information might worry people.

Knowing the facts is one way people can reduce their stress level during the pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control. “When you share accurate information about COVID-19,” the CDC reports, “you can help make people feel less stressed.”

“The sheer flood of data and information we are seeing daily about the pandemic is nearly impossible to process without the help of technology,” Daniels says. “People want information that will help them understand what’s happening, particularly in the areas where they live. But if that information is too confusing and complicated, they are going to remain confused and scared – wondering what to do, how to help, or how to keep their families safe.”


Sharon Daniels is the chief executive officer of Arria (, which specializes in a form of artificial intelligence known as Natural Language Generation. Daniels’ entrepreneurial career in building and expanding technology startups began in 1984 and has now spanned more than three decades of technology evolution. Her previous experience includes serving as founding executive director of Diligent Corp., a technology company that grew to become a member of the S&P/NZX 50 composite index before being acquired by Insight Venture Partners for $624 million.

Report: Ice Cream Market in the USA – Key Insights

IndexBox has just published a new report, the U.S. Ice Cream And Frozen Dessert Market. Analysis And Forecast to 2025. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The revenue of the ice cream market in the U.S. amounted to $8.1B in 2018, leveling off at the previous year. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price). In general, ice cream consumption continues to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern.

The growth pace was the most rapid in 2014, with an increase of 2.6% y-o-y. Over the period under review, the ice cream market reached its maximum level in 2018, and is expected to retain its growth in the immediate term.

In 2018, per capita ice cream consumption in the U.S. was estimated at 10 kg per person. Over the analyzed period, per capita consumption ranged in the interval from 10 kg per person in 2013 to 11 kg per person in 2008. In value terms, per capita ice cream consumption in the U.S. showed mixed trend pattern, finally falling from $26 in 2008 to $25 in 2018.

Ice Cream Production in the USA

In value terms, ice cream production totaled $8.2B in 2018. Overall, ice cream production continues to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2014, when the the output figure increased by 2.8% y-o-y.

Ice Cream Exports
Exports from the USA

In 2018, ice cream exports from the U.S. amounted to 75K tonnes, surging by 10% against the previous year. In general, ice cream exports continue to indicate a strong increase.

In value terms, ice cream exports stood at $249M (IndexBox estimates) in 2018.

Exports by Country

Mexico (18K tonnes) was the main destination for ice cream exports from the U.S., accounting for a 24% share of total exports. Moreover, ice cream exports to Mexico exceeded the volume sent to the second major destination, Australia (7.1K tonnes), threefold. The third position in this ranking was occupied by Canada (6.7K tonnes), with a 8.9% share.

From 2008 to 2018, the average annual rate of growth in terms of volume to Mexico stood at +2.5%. Exports to the other major destinations recorded the following average annual rates of exports growth: Australia (+40.5% per year) and Canada (+6.2% per year).

In value terms, Mexico ($52M), Australia ($26M) and Saudi Arabia ($23M) were the largest markets for ice cream exported from the U.S. worldwide, together comprising 41% of total exports. Canada, the UK, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, South Korea, Bahamas and China lagged somewhat behind, together accounting for a further 34%.

Export Prices by Country

In 2018, the average ice cream export price amounted to $3.3 per kg, growing by 7.2% against the previous year. Over the last decade, it increased at an average annual rate of +3.8%.

Export prices varied noticeably by the country of origin; the country with the highest export price was the UK ($4.3 per kg), while the average price for exports to Mexico ($2.8 per kg) was amongst the lowest.

From 2008 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of export prices was recorded for supplies to the United Arab Emirates (+6.4% per year), while the export prices for the other major destinations experienced more modest paces of growth.

Ice Cream Imports
Imports into the USA

Ice cream imports into the U.S. amounted to 29K tonnes in 2018, increasing by 13% against the previous year. The total import volume increased at an average annual rate of +4.4% from 2008 to 2018; however, the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded over the period under review. In value terms, ice cream imports stood at $86M (IndexBox estimates) in 2018.

Over the period under review, imports of ice cream in the U.S. were negligibly small compared to the production volumes. Therefore, the share of imports in the total market was practically nonexistent, both in volume and in value terms. This situation has remained constant over the period under review, which means that domestic producers entirely meet the domestic demand for ice cream.

Imports by Country

In 2018, Mexico (9.8K tonnes) constituted the largest ice cream supplier to the U.S., accounting for a 34% share of total imports. Moreover, ice cream imports from Mexico exceeded the figures recorded by the second largest supplier, Canada (2.8K tonnes), threefold. South Korea (2.6K tonnes) ranked third in terms of total imports with a 9% share.

From 2008 to 2018, the average annual growth rate of volume from Mexico totaled +14.3%. The remaining supplying countries recorded the following average annual rates of imports growth: Canada (-10.4% per year) and South Korea (+6.6% per year).

In value terms, Thailand ($13M), Italy ($9M) and South Korea ($7.7M) were the largest ice cream suppliers to the U.S., with a combined 35% share of total imports. These countries were followed by Canada, Hungary, South Africa, Germany, Australia, Mexico, France, Israel and India, which together accounted for a further 52%.

Import Prices by Country

The average ice cream import price stood at $3 per kg in 2018, rising by 15% against the previous year. Over the last decade, it increased at an average annual rate of +3.5%.

Import prices varied noticeably by the country of origin; the country with the highest import price was Thailand ($7.6 per kg), while the price for Mexico ($344 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2008 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of import prices was attained by Mexico (+11.1% per year), while the import prices for the other major suppliers experienced more modest paces of growth.

Companies Mentioned in the Report

Wells Enterprises, Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Blue Bell Creameries, The Jel Sert Co, Friendly’s Ice Cream, Hershey Creamery Company, Fieldbrook Foods Corporation, Dianne’s Fine Dessert, Chobani Idaho, Baldwin Richardson Foods Company, Edy’s Grand Ice Cream, Graeter’s Manufacturing, Perry’s Ice Cream Company, House of Flavors, Talenti I, Hain Refrigerated Foods, Rocky Mountain Pies, Ice Cream Specialties, Shenandoah’s Pride, TLC-Lc, Blue Bell Creameries Usa, Ffc Holding Corporation and Subsidiaries, Vasari, WEI Sales

Source: IndexBox AI Platform