A business plan is a document that describes the purpose and objectives of a company, its products and services, target market, financial forecast, and its strategies. Many beginning entrepreneurs wonder why they should write a business plan. Well, it’s not a good idea to rush into new venture without having a blueprint – a guide to follow. It also serves to attract investors when you seek financial backing.
When writing a business plan you need to follow a certain format. A business plan should consist of the following elements:
Write an executive summary. An executive summary provides an overview of the entire business plan. Give a clear picture of your business. Include information such as when the business was formed, its mission statement, who founded the business and what roles they play in the business, a description of the business and its products, the business address and location, key personnel, and the business’ financial highlights. Make this succinct, packed full of energy and enthusiasm for the business, to entice the reader to read the rest of the plan which will provide greater detail.
Describe your company in detail in the second section of the business plan. Discuss the nature of your business, its mission and operational philosophies. Briefly state the purpose of your business and include your company name, its location and contact information, as well as the legal structure of your business.
Describe your products or services. Provide descriptions of the kind of products you sell, services you offer and how your offers stand out from the competitors’. These should be explained in simple, easy to understand language. Avoid using acronyms or jargons that may confuse those interested in the business, particularly investors.
Explain your marketing strategy. Outline how you will implement such key strategies as communication, marketing penetration, channels of distribution and growth. Describe the sales strategy you will use and how it fits with your marketing strategy. Provide an in-depth, analysis of the market. Identify your target market, and describe your competitors and how you stand out from the competition.
Provide your business’ financial data. Explain your sources of funding and provide historical financial details of your company. Include an operations budget and also such financial information as the balance sheet, sales forecast, cash flow, business ratios, profit and loss statements and break-even analysis.
Profile your management team. Explain who your managers are and what roles they play. Include information on their education and certifications, their experience, skills and past business successes. If you or any of your management team members has impressive credentials, such as an MBA from a prestigious university, include that information here. That will certainly get the attention of lenders and investors and get them interested in your business.
Now that you’re done writing the business plan, read it many times to be sure everything looks good. If there are any mistakes, this is the time to correct them. Reread the copy as many times as necessary to make sure it is free of errors.