Creating a Useful Business Plan
If you hear the words “business plan” and immediately think, “Ho-Hum, boring” then your business plan is being done wrong. A business plan is a vital part of your company and it should live in the daily operations of your business as well as guide you when there are setbacks or hurdles to overcome.
This living document can be an integral part of your company and keep you on track for years to come. That means regular reviews of the document and how your company needs to adjust, or it needs to be changed.
The Small Business Association (SBA) recommends that a business plan include the following areas:
- Executive summary – a snapshot of your business
- Company description – describes what you do
- Market analysis – research on your industry, market, and competitors
- Organization and management – your business and management structure
- Service or product – the products or services you’re offering
- Marketing and sales – how you’ll market your business and your sales strategy
- Funding request – how much money you’ll need for the next 3 to 5 years
- Financial projections – supply information like balance sheets
- Appendix – an optional section that includes resumes and permits
Now that you know the categories, how do you go about drafting a business plan? Our first suggestion is to NOT do it in a vacuum. Talk to other people who are in your field, including accountants, financial advisors, potential clients, trusted advisors, and anyone who will listen. The more you learn and research, the better off you will be with understanding how your business will come together. Here are three simple things to keep you focused as you write your business plan.
Keep it Simple and Straightforward
First of all, no one has the time or energy to read hundreds of pages of your business plan. A lengthy plan also makes it pretty unlikely that you will review it annually. Keep it short and simple, and get to the point. Bullets and charts can get your content across easily and make it reader-friendly.
Know Your Audience
As with presentations and sales, it is a good idea to know who your investors and business partners will be. Keep the language simple if your investors do not follow the lingo of your industry. This is especially true if you have a scientific or complex business plan.
Pick the Right Format
Not all businesses have the same needs or information. Choose a format that can bring out the unique aspect of your business. Check out the SBA’s types of plans such as a traditional or lean format that can convert what you need to in an easy to understand manner.
Working on a Business Plan? Check out our 2019 Business Plan Program and Competition Pitch Panel on June 12, 2019, from 8:30 am – Click here for additional information including eligibility requirements and application.