I often get asked if you really need a business plan. And I get it. There’s a ton of information that you need for them and they just seem so archaic.
But there is a rhyme and reason to them.
Creating a business plan not only helps you grow your idea for a business into an actual business plan, but it forces you to do some real research, set some legitimate goals and build the basis for something real. I can tell you as someone who started a business without a business plan, for the first few months I really wished I had one…
And business plans are incredibly important if you’re looking for financial backing. Because without that plan, there’s not much of anything to invest in, save for simply investing in you.
So, what’s in a business plan?
Your executive summary is essentially the elevator pitch for your business. This is the quick but robust overview of what people need to know about your business and it should be compelling enough that they want to read more.
Your executive summary typically takes up the first page of your business plan and is somewhere between half a page to a page and a half — but honestly, the shorter the better.
Once people are through the executive summary and they’re ready to learn more, the business description is where they’ll find the nitty-gritty of your organization.
This needs to cover the who, what, where, why, when and how of your business. It’s essentially a detailed grand overview of your business that explains what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and where you plan to go.
Your market analysis is where you take some time to do research surrounding the market you’re planning on operating in. The goal of your market analysis is to assess the market, your competitors and your place in the market.
Organization & Management
The organization and management section of your business plan gets into detail about how your business is organized, who’s running what things and how you’re managing people.
This is really the people section of your plan. And this section is pretty important if you’re looking to get funding or investors, though even if you’re not it’s a good section to pen out for any organization that includes more than just yourself on staff.
Your sales strategy section outlines how you’re planning on selling your product or services. This includes your marketing plan, promotional strategies — it includes how you’re currently doing this and how you plan to do this in the future.
How much money do you need to get started on your business? This is the basis of your funding requirements section. This section of your business plan also should include a timeline so any potential investors know how their money is being spent and when.
Your financial projections should include two things — first, you’re going to summarize and celebrate your success this far. Then you’ll build financial projections, look at revenue growth and market trends for your business. This gives you and your investors a snapshot into the future of your business.
Building Your Business Plan
Your business plan does not have to be a hundred-page document with color-coded tabs and special key to make sense of it — it should be a document that makes sense for you and provides you with an outline to grow your business.
Do you have a business plan? Let me know how useful you find it in the comments below!
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Tae started out as a journalist before following the money into the corporate world. But it turns out that the grass isn’t always greener and now you can find her spending most of her time writing about all the things she loves. Namely, money, travel and business with a hefty dose of self-deprecating humor. She is a podcast fanatic, blogging aficionado and loves to find new ways to turn passions into cold hard cash!