Having a business plan is crucial to your business’ success. While it can be used to secure funding for your venture, it can also provide you with direction and focus in guiding your business to success. Business plans vary in complexity depending on whether or not it will be used to ask for funding or solely as a course of action. Below is the information most experts agree should be in a business plan.
- Overview Summary: Outline your business idea including the specifics about your product or service and how you’re business will be different from similar businesses.
- Mission Statement: What is your ultimate goal or purpose to your business?
- Company Information: Provide information about when your company was founded, what it does, its legal structure, where its located, etc.
- Product or Service: Describe what you offer, how is it created, how is it unique? Refer to brochures and literature if asking for money.
- Market: Who are your customers? Where are they located? How will you reach them? What is your marketing plan (advertising, promotion, etc.)?
- Competition: Who else out there offers what you do? How does your business differ from theirs?
- Liability/Opportunity: What risks are you facing and how will you overcome them (i.e. financing)? What opportunities are there that you can take advantage of?
- Management: Who is involved in your business and what is their experience? Be sure to include yourself.
- Capital Requirements: Even if you aren’t asking for money to fund your venture, you should have information regarding start-up expenses. Often starting a business cost more than anticipated because there are more fees and small expenses than expected.
- Financial Plan: This includes income statements, cash flow and break-even analysis, balance sheet summary and sales summary. Indicate your projected expenses and income for the next year.
- Appendices: This is where your supplemental information goes such as literature, brochures, charts, contracts and anything else to illustrate points in your plan.
Even if you aren’t planning to ask for funding, it is important to put in writing information about your business, how you plan to market it, fund it, and your vision for it! The Small Business Administration has a lot of great information on writing a business plan and other business start up tips.
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