Preparing Your Business Plan
The process of creating your business plan will have much to do with the future success of your business. Your business plan is your business's road map. Without it, who knows where you will end up? If your business plan is intended as an operational guide for you, then you'll need to include only the information that is pertinent to running your business at each stage of its growth. If, however, your business plan is going to be used to get funds from a bank, private investor, or venture capitalist, you'll need to create a polished document that answers all of your funder's potential questions.
There are five key sections to a comprehensive business plan. They include the introduction, a section on the company, a section on marketing, a section on financials, and a section comprising appendices. Let's go through each section, one by one.
The introduction covers the basics. A cover, title page, summary, and table of contents are basic things that should be included in the introduction.
The cover should be simple. It should contain the name of the business, obviously, but can also include a contact name and information. The title page should include the business name, contact person, and full mailing address, as well as telephone numbers, fax numbers, email addresses, and web site addresses. Make sure you include a copyright mark somewhere on the page to ensure ownership!
Also included in the introduction is a one-page summary. The summary should include key points from every section of the plan. Some areas your summary should cover include your business structure, your mission statement, the purpose of the business plan, if the business is currently operating or if you are purchasing an operating business, the principle owners of the business, the geographic area of the business, a description of target customers, a description of products or services, business and marketing objectives, short- and long-term revenues, and a section on why the venture will be successful.
The final section in your introduction should include the table of contents, which will list the major sections and topics in your business plan, as well as their page numbers.
Your company section should include a mission statement. This is the statement of purpose for your company. A good mission statement states who you are, what you do, why you do it, and what you stand for. It should reflect your values, and should be real, simple, and honest. How long should a mission statement be? Try to get it in one sentence.
Your company section should also include a business overview. If you are starting your own business, this section should include your business name, legal structure, and starting date. If you are purchasing an existing business, you'll need to document the business's history including how long it has been around, previous owners, why it is being sold, current customers, suppliers, and vendors, and what challenges the business faces.
Other things that should be covered in this area include a description of your product and services, including the benefits customers will receive and why they will choose your product and service over those of competitors; a description of key legal issuesâ€”licenses, zoning, insurance, etc.;related to setting up and operating your business; business operations details, such as where your business will be located and how it will be managed; risks and contingencies associated with your products and services; and your company's goals and objectives.
The marketing section is one of the most important parts of your business plan. It should include a company analysis, introducing key players and any partners involved in the business. If your business is already operating, the company analysis should include where the company is now, as well as where it will be if company objectives and goals are met.
In this section, a market analysis should give an overall overview of the marketplace your business operates in. The market analysis section should be divided into three areasâ€”the market size, the market segmentation, and the marketing environment.
A customer analysis should also be included in the marketing section. You'll want to answer questions about your customers such as how they decide to buy, what they look for when deciding what products and services to buy, and how they make choices between competitors. Similarly, a competitor analysis should also be part of this section. Who are the businesses that sell similar goods and services. What is your position in the marketplace in relationship to your competitors?
Also included in this section should be marketing objectives, your marketing strategy, marketing budget, and your action plan. Support documents such as research surveys, market studies, spreadsheets, and testimonials should also be included.
Creating financial statements and projections can be the most challenging part of your business plan, but having this section buttoned down is integral to your success. In this section, you need to cover the basics when it comes to financial planning and forecasting. Things like current and future funding requirements, use of funds, and funding sources should be detailed.
Your financial section should also contain a balance sheet that lists your assets and liabilities, which will help you figure out your net equity position. A break-even analysis, cash flow projections, income projections, and a list of equipment and inventory will round out this section nicely!
All the documents that support your business plan should be included in the appendices section. This includes resumes, market studies, financial forecasts, and any other document that can be helpful in supporting your plan.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------If you are a business owner get listed at Best Repair Site, part of Localwin Network.