The process of creating a business plan can be thrilling and nerve-wracking at the same time. As you work on each section, you’ll have to deal with various problems and think long and hard for alternative solutions. On the brighter side, each completed section will take you closer and closer to starting the business of your dreams.
Although business plans may vary in format from time to time, almost all of them are composed of similar key sections. Here are some of the most basic elements that should be found in any business plan:
An executive summary is basically a one- to two-page outline of your entire business plan. In this section, you can state the purpose of your business and briefly enumerate how you intend to achieve this purpose. Although this section comes first, you’ll have an easier time if you write this section last.
This section is composed of your company’s history, start-up plans and basic information. You should also list down your business name, phone and fax number, address and hours of operation.
Product or Service
Use this section to describe what you’re selling in a detailed manner. You may want to focus specifically on customer benefits.
In order to start a business, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with your market. Discuss your customer’s needs, where your customers are located, and how you intend to reach them. You should also familiarize yourself with your competition. Identify your major and minor competitors, and how you plan to succeed.
Strategy and Implementation
Discuss your planned strategies, how you plan to implement these strategies, and how you intend to track your results. Be as specific as possible. How will you introduce customers to your service or product? Where will you sell your product?
Web Plan Summary
If your business is involved in e-commerce, discuss all matters related to your website. Identify development costs and present your strategies for operations, sales and marketing.
Utilize this section to describe the members of your organization. If you’re handling all management roles on your own, then this section will be brief. If, however, your organizational chart is more complex, then prepare a flowchart containing your managers, the employees reporting to each manager, and their job descriptions.
Since you’re just starting out, a projected guesstimate of your financial unknowns is the best you can do. Of course, explain your assumptions. How did you determine the figures you used? Have projections for at least three to five years.
Although this section is optional, you may want to keep useful information such as permits, resumes and leases in one place.
When creating your business plan, keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to create your plan in the same order it is presented as a finished document. Instead, build your plan in various sections and then organize it later.
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