A good business plan is essential to every new business. It is the foundation of its future.
New ventures understand the value of a business plan, and know they need to write one.
Yet often it can be difficult to know what exactly should feature in a business plan, and how to ensure the content is informative and actionable.
Let’s demystify the process, and detail 5 essential areas every business plan should address.
This is the opening act. Where you state the mission, define the audience, and explain the reason your business will enjoy success in the market. This overview is the cornerstone of your business plan, as everything that follows it is built upon the introduction.
Ask yourself as you write this section ‘why is my business a valuable addition to the market?’
The answer to that question will set the tone that flows throughout every step of the plan.
Once you’ve outlined your intentions you then need to back it up with capital. This section is where you outline the finances you have on hand, any loans you may intend to take, and also some projected earnings for the first year or two of your business.
You should also outline if you will operate as a company, trust, or partnership, and whether you have registered the structure. Furthermore, any ongoing costs and expenses should be listed.
Strengths and Weaknesses
This section should detail the strengths of your business and its weaknesses. The strengths will vary depending on your industry, but listing the unique selling point of your goods and services is ideal for all enterprises. Also listing any weaknesses the business may have, such as seasonal factors, higher risk of litigation, high difficulty obtaining ongoing financing, and so on.
It’s vital a new business gets the word out. Marketing is always going to be a core focus on any new business in the earliest stages. Even businesses that ‘split off’ and are ‘sister operations’ of existing businesses will still be confronted by a marketplace that says ‘who cares?’.
A business plans’ marketing section will help to answer that question, and explain how the business will go about staking its claim. Listing every single campaign you intend to run is not necessary, but you should have some clear ideas about how you will engage the media, use social media, and any other publicity vehicles you have at your disposal to build a brand.
It’s in this section anything that doesn’t fit the preceding four sections should be listed. It is also an area to expand upon previous points that may change in future. For example, right now your business may work best in a company structure. If there is ultimately a plan to see a trust formed in future within which a company would operate, here is a good section to detail this.
Most business plans have common elements, but each will be unique in certain parts. Even if some information is unconventional, if it’s important to the business, its usually OK to include.
Remember There’s Always A Chance to Change
A good business plan should be a strong blueprint. But it doesn’t necessarily need to be the last word. Especially because at the end of the day, it’s a plan – and sometimes plans must change.
As well as looking to correct any issues that arise, be ready to revise a business plan whenever the chance arises as you identify new opportunities and areas to optimise operations.