Business plan

Use this business plan quiz to develop a strategy for growing your business

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Without a plan, running a business is like going on a hike in nature without a map, without knowing your destination and without understanding how you will get there.

Writing a business plan may seem like a chore, but it can ultimately generate value in terms of attracting investment and planning for future growth. Business planning can seem all the more daunting for new business owners because it’s hard to figure out where you’d like to be 12 months from now, let alone five years from now.

While some business plans are meant to be internal documents only, most are written to help attract an investor or secure a business loan. We’ve created the following business plan quiz to help guide business owners through the process.

1. Summary

The summary is like a 30-second elevator pitch. It should be written assuming that a busy lender or investor will only glance at it before making the decision to 1) ignore it or 2) learn more. Don’t be boring – find a way to grab the reader’s attention right off the bat. However, avoid going into too much detail.

  • What problem does your business solve and how?
  • What makes your business uniquely qualified to succeed?
  • What are its main strengths?
  • How much money do you need from the lender/investor?
  • What will be their ROI?
  • Why should the lender/investor know more?

2. The company

Now that you’ve caught the reader’s attention with the summary, they’ll want to know more about the company itself.

  • What is your corporate mission/vision?
  • What sector does the company belong to?
  • Where is the company located?
  • What is the ownership structure of the business?
  • What products or services do you offer?
  • What is the future growth potential?
  • What differentiates this company from its competitors?

3. Manufacturing

The workings of the plan, this section tells the lender/investor How? ‘Or’ What your product or service is produced. This is another area where business planners risk going into too much detail. Keep it simple, concise, and free of technical jargon.

  • How is your product or service made?
  • How much does it cost to produce your product or service?
  • What facilities, equipment and materials are needed?
  • Who are your main suppliers?
  • What licenses or permits are required for operation?

4. Staff

This section should reassure the reader that your business is in good hands and that there is a management plan in place to support future growth.

  • Who runs the business?
  • Who is on the management team?
  • What are their main skills and qualifications?
  • How many employees does your business have?
  • Is there a sufficient talent pool for future recruits?
  • Do you have an organizational chart?
  • Do you have a management strategy?

5. Customers

Demonstrate that you have researched the size of the market, that you know who your customers are, and that you are aware of any competitors that could erode your market share.

  • What is the size of the market?
  • What is the demographics of your customers?
  • What do you charge for your products or services?
  • What market share do you currently hold and what share do you expect to reach?
  • Who are your main competitors?
  • What is your marketing strategy?

6. Finances

This part of your business plan should be 100% accurate. Keep in mind that some readers will skip to this part after reading the executive summary.

  • If a new business: What are the costs associated with setting up your business?
  • What will be your estimated business income for the coming year?
  • What is your projected business income for the next three years?
  • What is the break-even point and how much sales volume is needed to make a profit?
  • What are your overheads?
  • What are your current assets and liabilities?
  • How much are you asking the lender/investor?

7. Risk

A common flaw in business plans is that they are often built on best-case scenarios and do not take into account the impacts of risky events – like an economic downturn – that occur. Acknowledge risks and show how they will be prepared and mitigated.

  • What are the main risks that could impact the business?
  • How likely are they and how significant would the impacts be?
  • How are these risks managed?
  • Do you have a business backup plan?

8. Growth

After detailing the current state of the business, it’s time to look to future growth. Use this section to establish that the business has an opportunity for growth, as well as a plan to do so.

  • Do you have a growth strategy?
  • By what percentage do you intend to grow and by when?
  • What are your growth stages?
  • What additional resources will be needed to support growth?

9. Call to action

Conclude your business plan by reiterating the main investment or loan request. Provide a call to action to host a meeting.

10. Supporting Documents

Include any documentation needed to support the above information, such as financial details, copies of business licenses, or your marketing, people, and growth strategies.

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Business plan template


Image Credit: Image courtesy of SmartPhotoLab / Shutterstock.com

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