Although creating a business plan may seem like a chore, you can’t expect to have much success without one. You could have the greatest idea in the world, develop it with the best intentions, and hire the hardest-working people on earth. However, without an organized idea of what to do and how to do it, you’re likely to fail.
A business plan can be a blueprint for your success, something to share with employees and partners to keep everyone on the same mission, or something to present to potential investors. Whatever your purpose, you need a business plan that’s ready to show someone if they want to see it.
You didn’t start your business so that you could write about it, though. So, you’re probably wondering where to start. Well, keep reading to find out everything you should include in your business plan.
1. Put the Main Points in an “Executive Summary”:
The Executive Summary is where you’ll summarize everything else that’s in your business plan. Not everyone that takes a look at your plan is going to read the whole thing, but they should be able to pick up the main points in the executive summary.
To begin, you’ll need to explain who you are, and give a brief overview of what your business is and where it’s going in the future. Writing this will also give you a good outline for what to include in the rest of your plan. Make sure to include what category your business is in when it was founded, and by whom.
2. Explain your Products or Services:
For people to begin to understand your business, they’ll need to know what it is that you sell. Is it physical products? Is it a service? What type? It may be easy for you to envision everything, but without describing your line of products or services, no one else will know what you’re doing.
In this section, you should also mention any proprietary products or services that you have. Include any inventions or patents you may have gotten over the years.
3. Describe your Business:
Give a description of your company that is longer and more detailed than the executive summary. What has happened since your company was founded? How has it grown? What challenges has it overcome? Be sure to mention any charitable work you have done or awards your business has received.
It is where you go in-depth and gives an idea of what your company has been through and where it is now. It can be tempting to overestimate here, but be honest. Don’t exaggerate, only include facts, and back up what you say with real data. If people think you’re exaggerating, they won’t take you seriously.
4. Explain your Organization and Management:
You should include who is in charge and why? Starting at the top, write informatively about your CEO, departments, and areas, all the way down to the lowest-ranking employees. You don’t have to be as detailed at the bottom of the company as you do at the top, but make sure people can understand how your business is structured.
5. Describe your Marketing:
How do you get the word out? You must be doing some advertising and marketing. Explain your logo, your slogans, and why they were chosen. Include your Facebook page, your Twitter handle, and any other social media accounts that you have. Describe some marketing promotions that you’ve done. Have you bought ad space on the internet? Did that bring in more customers? How do use your social media profiles? Have you run any contests? This information is not only interesting to read, but it’s also crucial to understanding your business.
6. Explain What Separates your Business from Others:
The world is full of businesses of all shapes and sizes. Given a few years, most of them fall apart. However, you plan to keep yours going indefinitely, and there must be a reason why it can. So, let people know why yours succeeds while others fail.
Your company exists to fill some need in some particular way, so make it clear what it is that makes it different from others. Maybe you have outstanding customer service. Maybe you and your employees have decades of experience in your field, so you know what works and what doesn’t. Or maybe you have great partnerships with other businesses that let you buy your products at low costs and offer lower prices to your customers. Whatever it is, make sure that people know what sets your company apart.
7. Project to the Future:
You’ve already given a detailed overview of where your company came from and how it stands now. It’s time to share some plans and expectations for the future. What sort of expansion do you expect? What problems do you anticipate in the next few years? What will you do to adapt to your market as it changes in the future?
Be optimistic, but don’t be unrealistic. No one reading your business plan is going to believe that within one year you’ll be the next Google or Facebook. Just look at where you are, where you want to be, and give a positive outlook for the future.
8. Ask for Investment:
Since you’ve gone over where you are and where you’re going, tell investors why this is a good time to invest. Share what you’ve done with past investments and how they turned out. Explain what kind of a return an investor can expect to get, and support your numbers with facts about your business.
Tell investors exactly what you would do with the money they might give you. Investors like to see that you have a plan; they don’t want to feel that their money is going to waste.
9. Include an Appendix:
Here you should put in any miscellaneous information that would inform people about your business. It may include sales figures, product photos, CVs for you and your employees, testimonials from customers, lists of your partners, and information on charitable contributions you have made.
There you have it. If you get to work on your business plan with these points, you’ll soon have a very professional and useful outline of what your business is and what it can be. And then, of course, you can get back to work!