It is tough to build something successful when you don’t even know what you are trying to build. The past year has been tough for businesses of all sizes, and many of them have taken a hit. Some of them are trying to make a comeback, while many start-ups are being launched by entrepreneurs. The foundation of any venture is a business plan.
Your initial plan might be messy and take a long time to write, and you may feel that it is not very useful. But, the very act of writing the plan will allow you to have a lot of clarity about starting up a business. You will be able to see what the objectives of your business are, and how you will be able to reach them.
How to write a business plan?
In this article, we will guide you on how to write a business plan. It is the first step in your entrepreneurial journey because it will help you organise your thoughts, seek funding from investors, and lots more. We have streamlined the entire process of writing a plan, making it faster and simpler for you.
This start-up business plan has main sections. We recommend that you start by scribbling your ideas for each on a separate blank piece of paper. Once you get your ideas worked out, you can create one cohesive document.
1. Title page and contents
How you present your business plan is important. You can neatly put it in a binder with all relevant information like the name of the business, Director’s names, address, phone number, and email address, printed on the cover. Use a font that is easy to read, and put in the Company logo. Add a table of contents of the things that follow the Executive Summary.
2. Executive Summary
The executive summary is the gist of your business and sums up the main points. It is the first section of your business plan that anybody opens, but it is often the last written since it is quite difficult. The executive summary should be interesting to potential investors. It should have your business name and the location where you do business.
Briefly tell your reader about what your company does, the product or services you offer, and the legal business structure of your company. If you are looking for investments, give details about your finances. It should include details like business opportunities, marketing, and sales strategies, and the target market. Also include the ownership structure.
The Executive Summary should include a Mission Statement which would tell about the focus of your business and why it would be successful. The Mission Statement is important because it is the driving force behind your business plan. If you don’t have a mission, it is like your plan to reach a goal without having the goal.
The Executive Summary should ideally be one to two pages long and give the readers an idea of what lies ahead in the document.
The final component of this page is a charge of accountability. This chart describes who all are responsible for the major tasks involved in running the business. The three main areas of accountability in most businesses are marketing and sales, operations, and finances. It will also mention the leadership team.
3. Company Overview
Give a brief description of your company, including its history and nature of its business. Write down about your products in detail and include pictures if possible. Be specific, and write down about the businesses or consumers whom you want to serve.
Explain the competitive advantage that you have, and if there are any experts in your team, mention them. Write about the developments that will affect your business. Don’t make this section lengthy, otherwise, your readers would lose attention.
If you want your business to be successful, you should communicate a clear message to your customers. Write down who are those customers, how do you fit into their lives, and how can you help them solve any problem that they are facing. Explain, why do you do what you do, and why should your customers choose you over the competition. Outline, how you will create a result that they are looking for. If you have any proprietary technology, give hints of that.
Finally, write down what is your company’s step-by-step plan for creating these results for the customer. These details will give your potential customers much greater confidence in your ability to create the results.
This gives section give details about your industry and the consumer trends therein. Industry statistics should be included in this section. Create a template for your expectations for the next five years, and compare that with the industry projections.
In the Opportunity section, give details about the product or service you are selling. Explain why your business is exciting, and how it will make life easier for customers. Also, include how your venture is going to fulfil an unmet need in the marketplace.
7. Marketing Plan
This section focuses on marketing and generating sales. First of all, define your target market by its demographics and psychographics. Demographics are attributes such as their age, income, and where they live. Psychographics deal with their interests, desires, and their fears. Include an estimated size of your target market, and the area where you have identified them.
Write down your visibility strategy that will explain how people will first learn about your brand and products. Give your lead generation strategy that will tell how you will establish contact with the people who have discovered your brand. Finally, include your essential conversion strategy, your sales strategy. Explain how you are going to turn the leads that have been generated into paying customers.
A product could be a physical product, a digital product, or a service. This is the exciting part of the plan where you focus on your businesses’ primary product. Center your businesses’ marketing message around it.
9. Production and delivery
In this chapter of your business plan, you will explain how you will turn an opportunity into business. Include your operational plan in which you will describe how you will operate your business. Distribution and delivery are an important part of your business plan. Explain how you will get your products or services into the customer’s hands.
10. Business Goals
Goals tell you where you intend to go and improve the overall effectiveness of your company. Give details about what you want to achieve - it can be market share or a certain level of customer service. The more carefully you define your goals, the more likely you are going to achieve them.
If you want to get your start-up organised, move towards your goals, and strategically increase your profits, then start to write a business plan right now. However, the plan is not fixed and can be periodically reassessed and reworked in changing circumstances. We hope that our template on how to write a business plan will help you to write one quickly and efficiently.
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Q. What are the major areas in which you can set targets in your business plan?
Ans. These can be sales, recruitment, cost reduction, and financing goals. Once clearly defined, these targets become performance goals.
Q. Why do you need to ‘plan’ your business plan?
Ans. Before writing your business plan, you need to think about it carefully. If anything goes wrong you will be held accountable for it. For example, your investors might get annoyed if you had planned to open five retail stores in two years, but managed to open only two.
Q. Why are financial goals important?
Ans. If you are planning rapid growth, you may require financial help. The financial goal will tell how much financing your start-up may need. It can be in the form of equity.
Q. What is the length of a typical business plan?
Ans. A business plan usually has around 15-20 pages. But it depends on a case-to-case basis, depending on the complexity of the business.
Q. How can I use the business plan for fundraising?
Ans. In the Company Overview section, you can explain to investors how new investments will make the business more profitable.