A lot of entrepreneurs skip a business plan entirely until they do need outside help, and that’s just doing yourself a disservice.
Oh, I’m just too busy right now to make one. What I bring to the table is enough to make my business succeed. Stop with the excuses, sit down, and make the time to build a business plan.
If you’re reading this and you haven’t even launched your business yet, great, I highly suggest you focus on this before you launch. If you already have launched and you are without a business plan, let’s get to work.
You should be writing one even if you’re not looking for investors just yet, because a business plan keeps you accountable. A business plan helps you to not lose sight of what it is your business is trying to achieve. A business plan benefits you in more ways than you can imagine, but here is a high level overview:
- Provides a crystal clear industry analysis so you know exactly what opportunities you have
- Outlines how your competition might jeopardize your success and how you plan on dealing
- Provides a concise mission
- Sets goals to achieve in a timely manner, which in turn helps you stay on top of the performance of your business
- Identifies your target market
- Serves as the perfect introduction for when you do want investors
So, what do you actually need to have in your business plan?
The executive summary is your chance to tell everyone what your business is about. It’s the first thing someone will read in your business plan, and let’s get real here first impressions are everything.
What should you talk about here? Talk about what your goal for your business is and what you are exactly trying to achieve. Talk about who your competitors are and what differentiates you. You need to make sure everything you say in your executive summary is clear, cohesive, and concise.
If you come across as all over the place, disorganized, or out of touch, nobody is going to make it past this page in your business plan and you just aren’t setting your business or yourself up for any kind of success.
Pro Tip: Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. You don’t want to bore someone or lose them on the very first freaking page.
This is where you describe exactly what your business does. This is your overview. This is where you discuss what your products are services are. You should also discuss your mission statement, who is part of your team, and who your target audience is. This is your opportunity to get whomever is reading your business plan to relate and connect to what you are all about.
Pro Tip: This is your chance to shine and get descriptive. That being said, make your content accessible and easy to understand in lieu of technically over the top.
What’s the state of your industry? Who is your target market? Do research on your industry, your target market, your competitors, and then make sure you can answer the aforementioned questions along with this: What actually goes into making your competitors successful and how can you do it differently and, well, better?
Pro Tip: Use data to back your ass up. You can’t support what you are doing on feelings. P.P.S. Try to source the most current data you can find and I’ll bet you anything you can Google your way to acquiring this information if you spend enough time on it.
Organization & Management
Who is running your company? You might want to even include CVs of your knockout leaders.
How is your company structured? You’re going to have to get legal here and explain if you are an LLC, S Corp, C Corp, Limited Partnership, General Partnership. If you aren’t structured in one of these ways, you definitely need to look into it and I’m going to leave it at that.
Pro Tip: Org charts are your friend!
Services & Product Line
Time to explain what your products and/or services are in detail! Do you have copyrights? Patents? Include that here too or if you are planning on acquiring them. If you have conducted research & development on your products, go into detail on that here too.
Pro Tip: Don’t miss your chance to incorporate how your customers benefit and if you have new products in the works.
Marketing & Sales
Ok, so, you’re going to have to outline your marketing and sales strategies, but this is definitely going to change a lot as your business grows or just even exists. This shouldn’t really be surprising though because evolution is part of success.
Anyway, your end goal is to convey how you will acquire customers, and then turn them into repeat customers.
Pro Tip: You really can’t go overboard with the details here, and don’t be afraid to include any data and analytics you currently have or build visuals to include.
If you ARE looking for funding, keep going. If you’re not, you’re good, you’re done!
This one is self explanatory, but nobody is just going to throw dollar bills at you. How much funding do you need and how will you use it? Are you looking for debt? Are you looking for equity? What terms are you looking for?
Pro Tip: Your projections should be for the next five years.
You need to convince investors that your business is going to be a success and that it’s not a volatile bet.
Cash flow statements, balance sheets, income statements are all things you need to include here if of course you are established. Don’t forget any collateral you can use for a loan.
Also make sure you include financial projections for the next five years here.
Pro Tip: If you can’t tell by now, I love visuals, and this is another great place to include them!
Bre is a female millennial go getter residing in New York. One part entrepreneur, one part geek, she obtained her degree in Textile/Surface Design from The Fashion Institute of Technology.
She has held some exciting roles in both fashion as a designer working for brands like Victoria’s Secret and Henri Bendel, as well as in ad tech working for publishers like Ziff Davis.
Today she operates her own luxury label and is also the Chief Chick at Chipchick.com which reaches millions of women each month.
Bre is passionate about keeping women informed of the latest technology trends and products to improve their lifestyle and believes in providing real, useful information and advice to her readers.