When starting your own company, a solid business plan priority number one. A well written plan will outline everything from the business structure and organization to future projections .
Additionally, the business plan will be a valuable asset for pitching investors and securing funding, which is why it’s so important to create a thorough plan that stands out. Below, we’ve listed the elements of a great plan and how to develop them.
1: Executive Summary
An Executive Summary a snapshot of your business and includes elements such as your mission statement, background, experience, strengths and company goals. More often than not, this will be the last thing you draft for your business plan.
2: Company Description
The Company Description provides a review of your business that should help readers understand the primary goal of your business. In your description, you’ll want to set out:
- Market needs that you plan to meet
- The ways your business will meet these needs
- Target audience/customer base
- Competitive advantages
3: Market Analysis
The best business ideas are useless if you don’t know who you’re selling to. The Market Analysis section provides a well-researched breakdown of your target market and your competitors. It’s also where you’ll have the opportunity to identify your niche, which will go a long way to helping your plan stand out. Your market analysis should include the following:
- Size, trends, growth rate, and projections for your industry
- A narrowed description of your target market, including: size, age, gender, interests, buying habits, etc.
- Needs of your target market.
- Competitive research and analysis, including:
- Competitors’ market share
- SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
- Barriers to your business
- Regulations and restrictions (customer, government, and/or industry), and how you’ll comply with these.
You will also want to include potential cost or operational impact that compliance may have.
4: Organization & Management
In this section, you’ll lay out your company’s organizational structure. This will include company ownership, profiles of your management team, and the qualifications of your Board of Directors. It would be a good idea to include a detailed organizational chart so you can show that every aspect of your businesses ownership and production is covered.
What do you sell? What services do you offer? Whether it’s a product, service, or both, you’ll need to provide a detailed description, along with the product/service’s lifecycle (as well as influencing factors) and any R&D activities you’re currently involved with.
This is an opportunity to show how your product or service will meet the consumer needs detailed in your company description and marketing analysis, so be sure to include anything and everything that makes your product or service better than your competitors’.
6: Marketing & Sales
How will you advertise and market your products? In this section, you’ll want to provide an overview of your marketing strategy and how you plan to penetrate the market.
When planning a strategy, you’ll need to pay special attention to your target audience. Research to find out what strategy will best connect with your audience to ensure the best investment of your time and money.
7: Funding Request
This is simply where you describe your funding needs, such as the specific amount of startup capital, future funding requirements, and how you will use the funds.
8: Financial Projections
Once you’ve done your analysis and set your objectives, you’ll need to develop your financial projections. Doing so will not only help you properly budget and allocate your resources, but will likely be required by creditors.
This section will include prospective financial data such as forecasted income statements, balance sheets, and expenditure budgets. It’s important that your projections match your funding requests.
As you can see, a thorough business plan that stands out is going to require a lot of time, research, and careful planning. At Stanko, Senter & Mitchell, we are pleased to assist you as you navigate the business plan development process. If you’re looking to start a business and need help with any aspect of your plan, contact us today.