Whether you’re starting or expanding your small business, a solid business plan is an important tool to steer your decisions. By keeping key components in mind, you can create a well-developed and comprehensive plan that serves as a guide for your business venture.
The executive summary should provide a thorough description of your company and why it will be successful. You’ll want to include such things as your mission statement, product or service, leadership team and employees, location and high-level growth plans.
It’s important to fully describe the nature of your company, specify your target consumers and organizations, and relay how you’ll fulfill the needs of your specific demographic. You can set your business apart by detailing your competitive edge and the value of your offerings.
Differentiate your business and address market characteristics in a wide range of areas, including describing your marketplace, creating a competitive analysis, identifying the leading products and services in your market, and defining how your business will improve upon those existing products and services.
Organization and Management
Take some time to explain how your company will be structured and its leadership, including roles and responsibilities, education, professional background and achievements. Also, list your firm’s legal structure (e.g. LLC), along with information on owner shares and forms of ownership, such as partnerships. An organizational chart could be helpful in providing a clear-cut picture of your team’s experience and roles.
Service or Product Line
By outlining your service or product line, you can illustrate what makes your business unique, along with its competitive advantage and current/future development status. You should also address intellectual property issues, such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, and confidentiality and nondisclosure/non-compete agreements.
Marketing and Sales
By sharing your strategy, you can inform others of how you plan to market your product or service. Marketing plans are critical, and your strategy should evolve to fit your distinctive needs.
If you are preparing your business plan as part of a lending request, you’ll need to clearly explain how much funding you’ll need over a specified length of time and how it will be used.
Discussing your financial history, along with the status and future of the company, is essential to your business plan. Make sure to provide a sales forecast, expense budget, cash flow statement, profit and loss statements, income projections and a break-even analysis.
You’ll want to include any supporting documents and materials, such as resumes, legal agreements, additional product and service descriptions, organizational charts, marketing and advertising collateral, and licenses, permits or patents.