Building a business plan is incredibly important, and though it might seem like a daunting task at first, it’s not as difficult as you might think. There’s no one way to generate a plan, but there are steps you can follow to organize it in the best possible way.
What exactly is a business plan?
Simply put, a business plan is a guide that outlines the goals for your business. It lays out the path you’re hoping to follow to see your business grow to all that you believe it can be. It sets up details to meet those goals, and organizes the steps you want to take with your business for years to come.
It also happens to be a very important document if you are looking to attract investors to a new business you are forming.
Business plans can be very simple, laying out a fairly straightforward objective. Or, they can detail every strategy you’ll follow in order to help your business achieve success. Business plans act as your roadmap to success, but they can also describe the challenges you might face, and how you might deal with potential issues.
Business plans involve your financial necessities and goals as well. If you’re looking to finance your business from investors or other sources, details about that financing should be included. It might have estimates on when you hope the business will be profitable, with several scenarios.
Business plans should start with a summary of you and/or your company. Who are you? What are you/your company looking to do? This section should be professional, but intriguing, or you might not get someone to be interested past the first paragraph.
That first section should include what you’re hoping to do with your venture. What niche are you looking to fill? What do you want to achieve as a concept/company? Tell your reader/investor what you’re setting out to do right from the get-go.
Target audience and business marketing
You should include analysis of your target audience, the marketplace you’ll be operating in, and the industry in which your venture will exist. What demographic are you aiming to appeal to? How stable is the market? Is there a need for your product or expertise in the industry? An overview of your customers and field will show you know who you’re targeting and how.
That part may involve how you plan to market your business, or deal with competitors in the field. Use this as your time to shine. What can you offer in promotions or services that similar ventures can’t? Make your business and your marketing strategy stand out — investors don’t want to hear the same advertising strategies over and over again.
You may choose to go into a more in-depth summary of who is on your team before you get into financials. Who’s in management? What will each member of the team bring to the table? What have they already achieved that will help the business succeed?
Finally, finances. How will you generate revenue with your business? What do your expenses look like? What funding is needed, and where are you looking for it? Detail exactly what you’d do with funding, and how an investor/partner can be a part of that. Get very specific.
Business plans should also include supporting documents, like an appendix of finances. It might include a balance sheet, a list of your customer base, or other important details. And add images! People respond better if you don’t just throw a wall of text at them. They’re not there just for the pretty pictures, but pretty pictures to supplement your fantastic proposal can’t hurt.