Okay, you understand the need for a business plan no matter what industry you are operating your startup in. You also know that a business plan can help you get financing (yet doesn’t guarantee it) while providing you with a type of guideline you want to follow to run operations, gain financing and market your company to reach success.
You will also be able to see any type of issues before you get business operations underway so you can address the problems early own to eliminate future obstacles.
Writing a Business Plan
Your business plan should touch upon the following topics to give a well-rounded look into the details of your startup.
- What your company hopes to achieve
- How your business satisfies a customer’s need
- Who your main competition is in the market
- What you believe will be your financial outlook in the next 3 to 5 years
- Provide details about how you will run operations
- Talk about the services and products you offer
- Gives information on all key management personnel
- Highlights market strategies
- Offers a breakdown of projected costs and your financial statements
Talk about your business operations and ways you will get your startup off the ground to where you can survive for the first year. You can also tailor your business plan based on who will read it, such as focusing on the financials and business objective more when you are pitching to investors or making your business plan for those people who will help manage the company. The business plan does not need to be overly complicated. It should simply be the route you plan to take to bring your business dream into reality.
Elements in a Business Plan
Most business plans will have up to 10 main sections with an appendix at the end that covers financial statements such as balance sheets, profit and loss statements, cash flow statements, equipment leases, tax documents and any other legal documents you need for operations.
The following are some of the sections that must be in your business plan:
Executive Summary: Talks about why you are creating the business plan and what the objectives are for your startup.
Introduction: Gives the main points that will be discussed in the business plan.
Market Analysis: This section should discuss all the research you performed about the market segment you are in including competition, market trends, customer demographics, trends, the potential of your product or service entering the market, and your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (S.W.O.T) analysis.
Marketing Strategy: You should discuss your marketing strategy objectives, price, product placement, services you are going up against and the types of promotions you will run.
Management: While you may be the only person running the business at the beginning, you still want to have an idea of the staff you may take on in the future and the roles they will play in the business.
Operations and Processes: You will need to give details about your operations, where you plan to have your business, if you are hiring outside manufacturers for products, what types of equipment you need, and how you will run processes.
Cost and Finances: Discuss your financial projections as well as variables and assumptions (sensitivity analysis) that could affect operational costs and revenue.
Always try to be realistic with the information you place into a business plan, especially if you are going to present this plan to investors. Have statistics and facts to back up financial projections and market research. While it may be hard to gather actual data if you are in a new niche market or you don’t have a history of running a business, don’t try to inflate the numbers or figures to make your startup goals unachievable.
We’ve written on this subject many times and it underlies how important it is. First things first, read our Business Plan guide. The process of writing a business plan will help you get a clear vision of your business’ future.
Furthermore, if you feel that the accounting component of the business plan is proving challenging then take this opportunity to check out Account-Ability. It’s our short video tutorial series that will help you to get to grips with and master the basics of bookkeeping.