Whether they’re looking for financing or exploring new growth opportunities, small businesses need a solid business plan. A business plan template can be useful here and help entrepreneurs with their business planning.
What to include in your business plan
Not all companies invest too much time in creating a comprehensive plan in the initial phase. But most business owners find it helpful to take a step back, define their business idea and target market, identify their point of differentiation, and define the strategy for success.
A business plan template consists of many different elements. Whether it is a trade show business plan or a farm business plan, it is important to address these different elements. And while it’s not crucial to include all of the pieces, it helps to be concrete in creating a successful business plan. Let’s take a closer look at these sections.
A summary forms the basis of your business plan. It provides insight into your business, products, differentiators, and financial projections. Most investors spend the maximum amount of time exploring this section. The challenge is to provide the answers without going into much detail.
Business overview and goals
In this section, your business plan will describe who you are and what you plan to do with your business. A comprehensive business overview will help you explain what makes you different. This section is also useful for giving an overview of your business. Who are the main members of your team? What value do they add? These are all questions that this section will answer.
This section describes the values that drive your business. It includes a mission statement that defines why your business exists. This statement should be a short sentence that adequately expresses the basic principle of your business. To give an example, LinkedIn’s mission statement is to connect professionals around the world to make them more productive and successful.
The success of your business depends on your ability to understand the market. Where is your target market? What are their main concerns? What will make them buy from you? These are some of the basic questions that this section will answer.
Organization and management
This section will provide information about the organizational structure of your business. From an operational point of view, it is important to have a legal structure that can help you in the future. Include information about your team and the management team.
Products and services offered
Even though you would have included information about your products and services in the summary, this section will help you add more detail. If you offer many products and services, you can provide more general information about your product lines. If you only offer a few products and services, it may be helpful to provide detailed descriptions.
Your marketing and business plan is crucial for many stakeholders: investors, employees and partners, to name a few. It should reflect your marketing strategy to promote your business and ensure that your products and services reach your target audience. Focus on showcasing your marketing efforts by emphasizing the four key elements of marketing: product, price, promotion, and location.
No matter how carefully you conduct your market analysis, you can only be successful if you keep a close eye on other companies. This is important because it will help you identify your differentiator and gain long term competitive advantage. Considering the importance of competitive analysis, it is a good idea to delve deeper into and identify the leadership, history, and products and services of your competitors.
When you approach an investor for a business loan, they will look at your financial business plan to understand how much money they can expect to earn in the future. The business financial plan section will provide a clear overview of all the finances involved in running your business. There are three main items that should be included in this section: the income statement, the balance sheet and the cash flow statement.
Future business plans for development
While it is necessary to keep current business goals in mind when working on parts of a business plan, it is equally important to consider the future. What are your future business plans? Where would you like to take your business? How are you going to get there? These are important questions that you should try to answer so that you can create a plan for the future of your business.
Summary of logistics and operations
Getting your products and services to the finish line is the key to your success. To achieve this, you have to depend on many stakeholders such as suppliers and distributors. A small restaurant business plan is a good example of this, as there are many logistical and operational requirements. This section will help you identify the key partners who will play a major role in starting your business. It will also create a strong supply chain that can work seamlessly when you’re ready to sell.
In the management summary, describe how your business is structured, who is involved, and external resources. The idea here is to showcase the expertise of your team and your external business partners.
Since your business plan is meant to be concise, it can be difficult to include additional information. This is where the inclusion of annexes can help. Here you can add CVs of your team members, market research, legal documents and product information. If, for example, you have a business plan for the daycare, be sure to include certifications and medical experience.
What is a business plan?
A business plan is a document that describes a company’s business goals and highlights its strategy for achieving its goals. It describes a company’s sales plan, its financial and operating model, and other key elements essential to its success.
Tips for writing an amazing business plan
To create a good business plan, it is important to structure the information. Here are some tips that you will find helpful.
- Be concise: While there is a lot of information that you may find important, the outline should be short and readable, preferably no longer than 20 pages.
- Provide supporting documents: If you have documents that can make your business plan more compelling, consider adding them as an appendix.
- Stay consistent: The document should have a consistent tone, message and style. So it is good to prove it correctly before finalizing.
- Avoid jargon: Do not include industry specific jargon that makes the document unreadable. Be direct and try to explain yourself in the simplest way possible.
- Be clear about your goal: Where do you see this plan being used? Is this something that you want to create for your team or do you plan to offer it to potential investors? Depending on your needs, you need to create a structure that adds the most value to your audience.
- Do your research: Your business plan should reflect the time and effort you put into it. This is especially important when working on specific sections such as competitive analysis and target markets.
- Be transparent: When it comes to the financial health of your business, don’t hide the challenges you may be facing. Providing a clear picture will help you gain the trust of your investor.
- Update it: A business plan evolves over a period of time. Your market realities may have changed or new competition may have entered the scene. It is therefore good to keep the document up to date so that it reflects your current activity.
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