Developing a business plan is often the most integral part of creating a small business that has a great chance of prospering. A business plan can give you a detailed roadmap on the overall appearance and infrastructure of your company, how it generates revenue, and a few of the little things that aren’t top-of-mind during the incredibly hectic start-up phase. A business plan should include these basic concepts:
A general profile of the company
A business plan should start off with a very broad profile of the company at-hand. This could simply be in the form of a summary that outlines the rest of your plan, similar to a table of contents in a book. Include in this introduction how the company will function, the products/services you’ll sell, what the marketplace out there is like, and any other basic concepts.
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A detailed description of the business
In this section, delve a little deeper. Craft an in-depth description on the overall structure of the company. What makes it different from the rest of the pack? Which markets or demographics will it serve? Determine your specific duties. If you want to hire employees or contractors, define their responsibilities, potential hours, salaries, and how their work would benefit your small business. Lay a solid and clear foundation in this section to ensure you’re fully prepared moving forward.
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An overview of your industry, market, and competition
Get out your microscope to take a close look at your specific industry and potential market of customers. Find out the history of this field, where it currently states, and what the future looks like for it. Check out other companies that have already been successful in your industry. In addition, don’t forget to nail down a specific group that would benefit from your products or services to determine where you should conduct business. Should you have a brick-and-mortar shop, or is a website good enough?
This is the part where you should lay out your full line of products or services. What will make them benefit your customer base? Are there other businesses with similar offerings? What is it about yours that makes them unique? Think about putting a price tag on them and what the most effective ways are to put them into the hands of your customers.
Jot down all potential marketing strategies you think are most appropriate. These may include purchasing ad space in local papers or magazines, running commercials on the radio or TV, or buying Google AdWords and having a website for online marketing. Always account for your company name and your offerings when determining the best marketing methods. There are lots of differences between marketing a bike shop compared to marketing an orthopedic practice. Plus, you should determine the selling points that make you stand out and how much your marketing strategies will cost you.
Business finances, expenses, and profit projections
A lack of funding is the main reason small businesses fail, so start off on the right foot by weighing all of your business finances. Estimate the amount of startup funding you’ll need to get rolling. Check into small business loans, government grants, and even crowdfunding online. Define all of the startup costs you’ll incur for basic funding reasons, equipment, an office space, and marketing. Remember you can save lots of money working from home, especially through the home office deduction. Consider all costs of what you sell and how much you’ll sell them for, in addition to the payment options and methods you’ll offer. Put a timeframe on these financial figures so that you will be financially stable now and moving forward.
References or an appendix
Formal business plans normally end with an appendix or reference section. It may consist of leases, permits, resumes and other key documents related to your company. Keep them all in order in case you need to access them in the future. Consider maintaining a hard copy and a digital copy of your business plan.
Recommended Books and Products on Business Plans:
- The Right-Brain Business Plan: A Creative, Visual Map for Success
- Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies
- Writing Winning Business Plans: How to Prepare a Business Plan that Investors Will Want to Read and Invest In (Rich Dad Advisors)
- How to Write a Business Plan
- The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan: A Pro Shares a Step-By-Step Guide to Creating a Plan That Gets Results
- Common Elements of Business Plans
- Why You, Why Now – A Critical Component of a Winning Business Plan
- Customer Analysis in Your Business Plan
- How to Write a Winning Business Plan
- What is an Investor Ready Business Plan?