A business plan, pure and simple, is a description of the business as it stands and a statement of intent as to its future progression and growth.

A well written business plan will serve as a tool for attracting investment, will clarify and delineate the objectives and tactics of the business and will declare the philosophical underpinnings of the business. In addition, if the plan is communicated to staff, it will serve to add a sense of meaning and purpose to the working lives of employees.

Key Points

Although the format, style and content of business plans varies from business to business, there are a number of key points which every business plan should address.

Business Profile

This should contain an outline of the history of your business, significant milestones in its development, and a current description of the business, its location, workforce, plant etc.

Mission Statement

A mission statement is, in effect, the public face of your business. It should state the reason you brought your business into existence, its goals, and how it hopes to go about achieving those goals. It should be catchy, positive, inspirational and easy to remember. Try to keep it to one paragraph in length.

Management Team

Any investor will want to be reassured that the business is being guided and run by a competent and experienced management team. Provide professional details of those members of management who have the greatest impact on the day-to-day functioning of the company.

Your Product or Service

Your opportunity to trumpet your core offering. Describe the products or services you bring to market. Outline their features, benefits, what needs they fill and why they are better than similar products/services that may already be on the market.

Operations

In this section detail your manufacturing process, the resources and raw materials required to produce a finished product, your distribution network and any relevant internal processes that set your business apart from others in the same field. The operations section will add value to and reinforce the section on your product or service.

Target Market and Customers

This is where you display the fact that you’ve done diligent market research. Identify who, exactly, your target customers are and why they will buy from you. Outline, also, the size of your market, how it is affected by prevailing economic conditions and any trends that can be forecast for it. Importantly, mention any potential that exists for growing the size of the market.

Competition

It is a rare business that doesn’t have competition, so don’t try to pretend that yours is any different. Outline who your main competitors are – you’ll lose credibility with investors if you don’t.

Competitive Advantage

To balance your list of competitors, describe your competitive advantage – the reasons why your product or service and, perhaps, your internal processes will allow you to dominate other businesses in your market. Your competitive advantage is what sets you apart from your competitors and makes you better than them.

Objectives

Obviously, an extremely important part of your business plan. A business without realistic and achievable objectives is a business that is already dead, even if it doesn’t know it yet. Without objectives a business cannot grow.

When outlining your objectives follow the SMART principle – make sure they are: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-limited.

Tactics

This is where you tell the reader how you intend to achieve your objectives.

Marketing

An adjunct to your tactics section – describe what marketing and advertising initiatives you are undertaking or have planned for the future.

Finances

List all relevant financial information that enhances the image of your business as robust and attractive to investors. Include cashflow and profit forecasts. Remember, this is the section that bankers and investors will pay most attention to.

Make the Effort

A well written business plan that portrays your business as a growing, stable concern with significant future potential is an essential tool for attracting finance and investment. Spend as much time on it as necessary. Make sure it is easy to read and grammatically correct. The effort you put in now could make the difference between the failure or success of your business for years to come.

Learn more about writing a business plan in this video.

How to Write a Business Plan, 3.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

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Comments

  1. Neil Mendes says:

    A business plan is a live document. Update your business plans with every change in direction your business has.

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