Your business plan paints a picture of your business as a whole. It illustrates how you want the business to grow, and how you are going to accomplish your ultimate goal of success. Your business plan is the foundation behind your business philosophy. It helps you organize your business concept, and gives you something to refer to when you are confronted with difficult decisions.
Writing a business plan should not be a restrictive process; it should be inspiring and encouraging. Most important, your business plan should be adapted to fit the needs of your business. To get you started, the following are a few categories you may want to consider including in your plan:
1. Description of the Business
This section of your business plan should describe your business objective. It should illustrate the products or services you offer, why you believe these products or services are marketable, and how you plan to distribute them to customers. This section should also include your reason for starting the business, your overall vision, and your mission statement.
2. Progress to Date
Often times new business owners have already made significant strides with their business without even realizing it, including developing a concept for the business, a vision for the business, brainstorming potential target markets and networking contacts that could turn into potential leads. Therefore, I think it is important, especially when you are just starting out with a new business, to highlight the accomplishments you have made thus far.
3. The Marketing Plan
This section is critical because it defines your target market, how you plan to market you business, and what you plan to market. Understanding your target market will help you with your marketing plan because if you understand the type of people who may be interested in your product or service, you can better determine the best way to market your business.
4. The Management Plan
How do you plan to manage your business? If you have employees, what style will you use to manage interpersonal dynamics? Do you need written procedures to help your business run smoother? How will you handle difficult decisions, and what key team members do you need to help you make these decisions? All of these questions and more should be answered in this section.
5. The Financial Plan
This section helps you understand and organize your business finances. It shows how much you need to start the business, your revenue model, profit and loss projections, cash flow and break-even analysis.