A business plan is an essential roadmap for business success. This living document generally projects 3-5 years ahead and outlines the route a company intends to take to grow revenues. Before you put pen to paper in writing your business plan, you need to think through and research ever area of your business that is necessary for its success. Doing this you will spot your potential weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and will help you make informed decisions.
A standard business plan has 7 key sections. The sections are also named according to the writer and he can use whatever terms sound appropriate. The seven sections are described below:
1. Executive summary:
The executive summary is a snapshot of your business plan as a whole. It provides a summary of the company profile and goals. It gives brief information about all the sections of the business plans giving an overview of your business concept, ownership and management structure, your product or service offering, target market, competition, marketing strategy, and your financial projections. The executive summary should be written last since it is a summary of everything in your business plan. It can be 1-2 pages long.
2. Business Overview/Company description
This section details your business’s history, vision and/or mission, objectives, and your ownership structure. It provides information on what you do in your business, what differentiates your business from others, and the markets your business serves.
3. Industry overview/Market analysis
Before you start your business you need to do a research on your business and market. In this section you will illustrate your industry and market knowledge as well as any of your research findings and conclusions. You will discuss the viability of your business by discussing the size and growth of your industry, the key markets within your industry, how your customers will buy your products or services, and which markets you’ll be targeting.
4. Operations Plan/Organization and management
This section is about the organizational and management structure of your business. It provides the profiles and qualifications of the owner, your management team, and the board of directors. It discusses who performs what function or roles in your business and what their backgrounds are. Here you also give an overview of the day-to-day operations of your business
5. Products and Services
This section deals with your products and services, including features and benefits, competitive advantages, and your suppliers. You will discuss your strategy to getting your stock at an advantage and how this will benefit your clients.
6. Marketing Strategy/Marketing and Sales
Marketing is the process of creating customers, and customers are the lifeblood of your business. This section will focus on your marketing and sales management strategy for your business. How do you plan to market your business? What is your sales strategy? Here you will describe your target market segments, your competition, how you’ll differentiate your products or services, and your business’s unique selling proposition (USP). You will include the tactics you would use to drive sales and sustain customer loyalty.
7. Financial plan/Financial Projections
This section is very important. It has to do with the finances of your business. You should develop this section after you have analyzed the market and set clear objectives. Once you have the information about your market and have set your objectives you will be in a better position to allocate resources efficiently. This section will include projected income statements and balance sheets, monthly operating budget and expected cash flow, break-even analysis and so on. It is standard to prepare a three years projected financial statement.
8. Appendix (Optional)
This can be referred to as the eighth section of a business plan. The Appendix is optional and should be provided if there is a need for it. In other words, it should not be included with the main body of your business plan. The Appendix include information such as the assumptions you made in the course of preparing the business plan, letters of reference, market studies, legal documents, contracts etc.
Make sure that you control who sees your business plan. It is an important document and should not be thrown around without control. Ensure that your document has legal backing and protection so that no one can tamper with it.
You can write your business plan on your own or on the alternative you can get a professional to help you with it. If you write it yourself, it is a good idea to get a professional to study it and advice you appropriately
Click here to get professional assistance with your business plan