What to Include in Your Business Plan
By Dr. Teresa R. Martin, Esq.
Whether you are trying to raise startup capital or you are in the process of expanding your business, writing a business plan should be your first move.
The idea behind a business plan is pretty straight forward. It essentially is a written outline that evaluates and defines the major aspects of your business, including the proposed product or service, the targeted market, and the economic potential. Creating a business plan will be useful to you in a number of ways. It will help you to stay focused on your business goals, better understand the market, and develop a road map of growth over the next few years. It is also a handy document to give to lenders, potential business partners, and outside investors.
Though many small business owners may recognize the importance of having a business plan, at the same time they dread the thought of sitting down and creating it. Perhaps the biggest problem is that they do not know which information to include or how to present it in a compelling way.
But, writing a business plan does not have to be a complicated process. There is a general consensus regarding what a plan should include as well as how that information should be presented. Here is a brief rundown of the major elements:
Mission or Vision Statement. In this section, you will briefly introduce your business concept, including the purpose of your business, the market landscape, your goals for future success, and how you plan on reaching those goals. Think of it as an executive summary.
Products or Services. Here you will go into more detail about the products or services you want to provide, as well as how you plan on producing or reselling them in a competitive way.
The Market. Define who your customers will be as well as the marketing strategies you want to implement. What is your demographic audience? How will you attract and retain enough customers to make a profit? What methods will you use to capture your audience? What sets your business apart from the competition?
Finances. Here you need to define your monetary needs as well as your projected revenues. You should also provide information about how you hope to manage your cash flow.
The Team. Offer a little background on the key players in your company, including the management team and any notable employees. Highlight the experiences, skills, and other strengths that may help your business succeed.
Bottom Line: Even if writing a business plan may take some work, you will get more out of providing this information.