Keys to Starting a Small Business - Business Plan
Now that you have completed your market research and you know you have a viable product or service, you are ready to begin creating your business plan.
A business plan is a road map for your small business. With your business plan you are laying out your objectives, goals as well as the plans to achieve those goals for your team and potential investors.
Here's what to include in your business plan:
Your executive summary should summarize the main points in your business plan. These are typically one to two pages and will introduce the reader to the main points. Keep in mind that your executive summary is the first part of your business plan, but the last part you will write. Complete the rest of your business plan first and use that information to fill in the executive summary.
These are the main parts of an executive summary.
Problem to be solved
How your business will solve that problem
Introduction to your products/services
This is your company's purpose. Your mission statement tells the world why you exist and how you can help serve a need. This is the foundation for your business. It is the guidance for those that are not familiar with your company.
Your mission statement should include:
What your company does
How your company does it
Why your company does it
In this section you will be outlining your business goals and objectives. Your goals are an important part of your business as they will keep your team on track and give you a clear sense of direction. They are a great way to measure your progress and identify needs that are not being met. When setting your business goals be sure that your goals are SMART - specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.
Description of your Products and/or Services
You've created a product or service, now you get to show it off. This section will be your outline of products/services. You will want to add as much detail to this section as possible. Letting your reader know everything there is to know about your product is important to their understanding of why and how you will benefit the market.
You should include anything that is relevant to your product, including:
Details on the manufacturing
Research and Development
Before starting your business plan you should have completed your market research. Having a good understanding of your target market, competitors and your business' strengths and weaknesses within the market is extremely important.
Your market research section of your business plan should include:
Information about your target market
Where your business fits in your target market
Your business' strengths and weaknesses
Marketing and Sales Plan
This section is where you will lay out your plan for attracting customers and closing sales. What sales channels will you use? What types of marketing will your small business use to bring in new customers? Laying out the details on your marketing and sales plan will explain to the reader how you plan to make your business viable.
Financial Analysis and Projections
Within this section, you will include how you plan to fund your business. This should be completed for the present and the future growth of your business. Your financial analysis will include research to ensure that your estimates and assumptions are as accurate as possible.
Your financial analysis and projection section should include:
Profit and loss analysis
Cash Flow Forecast
Description of your Organization
Begin with a description of your company as a whole. This is your elevator pitch in writing. Keep this section brief but engaging.
The next part of this section should be your company history. This should be your backstory, your when and why.
Also include your business team as it stands today as well as where you will be looking to expand your team to fit the needs of your business as it grows.
This is the last section. The appendix holds any relevant documents that will support your business plan.
Some items to include in your appendix are:
Contracts and/or agreements
Permits, licenses, patents, trademarks, etc.
Charts, graphs, tables, etc. that supplement your data
Your business plan is an important part of starting your small business. It is the outline of how your business intends to succeed in the market. As your small business grows, meets goals or changes direction, you should reassess and make any necessary changes to your business plan. This is a living document, changing as your business develops.