Starting a new business can seem overwhelming – especially when you’re doing it alone. Creating a business plan will allow you to refine incomplete ideas, address areas you may have not yet considered, create a map so you know what to do next, and increase credibility for bank loans or investor funding.
While you may think you’ve got your business concept down pat, turning the idea you wrote down on a napkin into reality isn’t as easy as it might appear and many people get so caught up on how to start the process that the business itself never materializes.
Following this solid eight point plan, based on guidelines from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), will help you get down to business, literally:
- Executive Summary. The executive summary is a snapshot of your business plan as a whole and touches on your company profile and goals.
- Company Description. The company description provides information on what you do, what differentiates your business from others, and the markets your business serves.
- Market Analysis. Before launching your business, it is essential for you to research the industry, market, and competitors. What’s working and what’s not working for your competitors? How will you distinguish yourself? Is there anyone else in your market? If not, there may not be money to be made.
- Organization & Management. Every business is structured differently, so it’s important to understand how your company will be organized and managed. What entity will you use? Who’s in charge of what, when? What kind of business succession plan needs to be put in place?
- Service or Product Line. Tell the story about your product or service. Describe what you sell and how it will benefit your potential customers.
- Marketing & Sales. Describe how you plan to market your business and explain your general sales strategy.
- Funding Request. If you are seeking funding for your business, make sure to include everything asked for in the plan. Any omissions may put your request at the bottom of the pile, or worse yet, in the garbage can.
- Financial Projections. Providing financial projections to back up your funding request is critical. Find out what information you need to include in your financial projections for the bank or angel investor.