Writing Your Business Plan

You've decided to start a private practice or other business—great! Now it's time to write the business plan. The Small Business Administration offers tips and resources for developing your business plan and suggests determining the type of format you want to use: a traditional business plan or a lean start-up plan.

Traditional business plan: This type of plan, preferred by lenders and investors, is highly detailed and comprehensive. It outlines all parts of your business, including the following:

  1. Executive summary: A summary of your mission statement, your product or service, and basic information about your company.
  2. Company description: Detailed information about the problems your business solves and an outline of the clients, organization, or businesses you plan to serve.
  3. Market analysis: A general overview of your industry and customer segment.
  4. Organization and management: An outline of how your company will be structured and the legal structure of your business.
  5. Service or product line: Describe what you sell or what service you offer.
  6. Marketing and sales plans: Describe how you'll attract and retain clients.
  7. Funding request: If you're asking for funding, clearly explain how much funding you’ll need and how it will be used.
  8. Financial projections: The anticipated revenue in the first 5 years matched to your funding requests.
  9. Appendix: Any supporting documents or other materials, including credit histories, resumes, product pictures, letters of reference, licenses, permits, patents, legal documents, and other contracts.

Lean start-up plan: This type of plan provides a general overview of your business, including the following:

  1. Key partnerships: The businesses or services you'll work with to run your business.
  2. Key activities: How your business will gain a competitive advantage.
  3. Key resources: Any resource you’ll leverage to create value for your customer.
  4. Value proposition: A clear and compelling statement about the value your company brings.
  5. Customer relationships: How customers will interact with your business.
  6. Customer segments: Who your business will serve.
  7. Channels: How you will reach your prospective and current customers.
  8. Cost structure: The most significant costs your business will face.
  9. Revenue streams: How your company will make money.

However, you don't need an MBA to create a business plan. Even if you've never written one before, you likely already have the training and skills— to develop, define, and measure your goals. In his ASHA Leader article, "You've Got Skills—to Write a Business Plan," Gregg J. Altobella, MS, CCC-SLP, suggests looking at it like a treatment plan.

1. Understand, plan, and define.

Think about and describe what type of business you want to develop, and what business outcome you seek. Further, think about and articulate how your business differs from others. Describe your business as if it were a person, entity, or mission.

After you’ve thought about and considered what you would like to achieve with your practice—similar to when you begin treating a client—you should outline a plan that includes goals.

2. Align your services and resources.

Your services require resources—ultimately, a cost to you or your business. When you plan, develop, and advocate for clinical programs and services, try to justify these programs by thinking in terms of associated revenues and expenses. Doing so will allow you to better implement and successfully grow these programs and services because you will have specific benchmarks to hold yourself accountable.

Writing a business goal consists of identifying an objective and stating the actions needed to achieve the objective in a specific time frame. Also, in writing business goals or plans, the key elements of setting business goals should align with the key elements of clinical delivery models.

3. Quantify.

Successful businesses set goals, then measure and review those goals routinely. Just like with patient care plans, when you aren’t achieving a goal as measured, you may adjust your strategies or interventions—or, perhaps, the goal itself.

If you are looking for more information on developing a business plan, ASHA has resources and business plan examples that can help you.