Starting a new business is exciting, but with so many ideas and goals, how do you get all of them onto paper? Creating a business plan acts as a roadmap to success by solidifying your ideas and helping develop actionable methods to achieve your goals.

The importance of a business plan runs deeper than just getting your ideas onto paper, it is also an essential document if your business is seeking finance. Banks and investors will need to know exactly how you intend to make your business succeed.

When creating a business plan, it is essential to make the plan as easy to read and concise as possible. Those who may need to review the plan, such as bankers, accountants and lawyers should be able to get the information they need from the plan easily.

As such, you should use straight-forward language and break down the plan into sections.

 

It is wise for your business plan to include relevant images and graphs. However, it is important to note that your business plan should not be too long, ideally remaining under 25 sheets of A4 paper. Here are the sections to include:

 

Executive Summary

An executive summary is a brief statement on what your business is and why it will be successful. Acting as a summary of how you want customers to view your business, it should include a mission statement, a vision statement, your business goals, and your business’ values.

 

Business Overview

Often best written last, a business overview should act as a brief summary of your entire business plan. This should include your business name and location, legal structure, unique selling proposition, products and services, summary of target market and competition.

 

Market Analysis

Performing a market analysis will help determine who your ideal customer would be, what will make them walk through your doors, and how you will get that final sale. An overview of how your products and services meet the needs of your customers and the strengths and weaknesses of your business can provide a snapshot of what your business has to offer the market.

 

Competitor Analysis

Knowing who your competitors are and what they have to offer can help set a benchmark for how your business should run. By researching their pricing and strengths and weaknesses, you can determine your competitive advantage over them.

 

Products & Services

A detailed description of the products and services your business intends to offer can create a better snapshot of your business and guide your marketing campaign. This information should also include any product life cycles and if there is any seasonality in your products. If your business creates its own products and services, this section should also include intellectual property requirements and manufacturing information.

 

Marketing Plan

Your marketing strategy should outline how your business intends to attract and keep customers. This will include;

  • Marketing goals
  • Target market research
  • Marketing activity offline and online
  • Sales plan
  • Pricing

 

Operations Plan

This section of your business plan outlines the legal structure of your business and who will be running it. You could also include an organisational chart detailing your employees, managers, and support staff.

 

Financial Considerations

Including the financial information of your business will become helpful when creating a budget or seeking finance for your business. This is a summary of how much money your business needs in order to start-up and maintain itself. It should include financial measures such as:

  • Start-up costs & running costs
  • Details of any existing capital
  • break-even analysis
  • Sales forecasts
  • Balance sheets
  • Cash flow statement
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