How to Write a Business Plan: Follow These 7 Steps to Get Started
Whether you’re starting a new business, looking for funding, or bringing on investment partners, you’ll need to have a clear and concise vision for your company. Structuring a good business plan, detailing the key components of your business, and outlining how your company will succeed, could be the difference between treading water and sailing into the sunset! While it is important to note that there is no right way to write a business plan, most traditional business plans include the following sections:
Executive Summary: This section will provide a birds-eye view into your company, highlighting a mission statement, team members, company history and product or service. If you’re looking for financing or investing, you should also include a summary of your growth projections and why your company will be successful.
Company Description: Here you will provide a detailed description of your business, specifically location, what you offer, who you are serving and how you will serve them (online, brick-and-mortar, etc.). What are your company’s strengths? What solutions can your company offer that others in that industry cannot? Flex your company muscles and describe what makes your team stand out.
Market Analysis: When detailing your own business, it is important to also provide a broad understanding of your industry and market. Using charts, graphs and other data that you have compiled, illustrate what trends or patterns consistently pop up and how you plan to not only compete, but also stand out amongst others in the industry.
Organization and Management: In this section, explain how your business will legally function. How is your business incorporated? Is it a limited partnership or LLC? Does it fall under Regulation CF or Regulation D? Furthermore, explain the role of each employee in this structure and how their unique talents and experiences contribute to the overall success of the business.
Service or Product: Though you may have already given a brief overview of the product or service you offer earlier in the business plan; this is an opportunity to take a deeper dive into exactly what you’ll be offering. Describe any problems that this product solves, how it is beneficial to your customers or clients, and the process for receiving this service, if pertinent.
Marketing Strategy: As we discussed in our previous blog post, a clear and consistent marketing strategy is crucial in helping your company reach its intended target audience. However, this may involve some flexibility as you grow, analyze and learn what formula works best for your specific business. In this section, illustrate not only how you aim to attract customers, but also retain them; go into detail about the sales process; and include pricing and sales information.
Finances: The goal of this section is to prove that your business is financially stable and project how it will go on to be a continued success. Include income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and ongoing business expenses (charts, graphs and tables can be extremely helpful in this section). Although it could be its own section within your business plan, if you’re seeking funding, you may choose to include a request for specific requirements here. Explain how you anticipate you’ll use additional funds in the coming years. This section should also include a forecasted projection of business finances, looking at where your company will be after one year, three years, five years, etc. Matching your projected balance sheets to your funding request, market analysis, and marketing and sales strategies will paint a detailed picture of the future of your business.
At the end of your business plan, attach any other supporting materials, legal documents, key resumes, licenses, or contracts that may be beneficial to your company. Remember that this business plan, whether you’re a start-up or an established company, should be a clear and detailed reflection of your business.