Preparing a business plan is like outlining an itinerary for a trip. You want a clear map that you can follow step by step while developing your business.
Business plans have long been a critical document for new businesses. A good business plan should guide you throughout the start-up process. A business plan is still a must for some scenarios and some reasons. Every entrepreneur and start-up company needs a plan. Before deciding exactly what that looks like and how to create it, there are some critical questions to answer and factors to understand.
Who do you need the business plan for? Do you need these for internal teams and stakeholders to ensure that they understand the vision of the business or externally for potential business partners or investors as you build and scale your business.
You should have a plan to get yourself organized and to ensure you have some type of viable commercial potential. You have focus and hopefully aren’t going to run out of money or starve before you get going. If that’s all you need, and you don’t plan to raise money, apply for loans and don’t intend on bringing in partners, then you certainly don’t need an elaborate document. Keep it simple.
If you are preparing a business plan, it needs to have six key elements: an executive summary, a description of the company, products/services, market analysis, management team, and a financial plan. While the executive summary is an overview of the company, the company should include a high-level overview of the history of the company, business legal structure, your products/services, key partners, and summaries of your financial and business goals.
The product and services segment should outline in more detail what you offer and how you differentiate yourself from others which could be covered in the market analysis segment that should outline the market need and how your products and services satisfy that need. This includes targeted customer segments, industry statistics, pertinent marketing data, and a thorough examination of your competitors' strengths and weaknesses.
Most people say that investors (especially angel investors) look at the team. It is important for them to know who is running the business. So include details of your core team with an organizational chart with departmental descriptions and information regarding the owners, key employees, the management team, board members, advisors, etc.
The last section of your business plan should be created with the help of a professional accountant. Include important financial statements, such as historical financial data from the past three to five years, realistic budget forecasts over the next five years and an analysis of your all financial data.
For any company to succeed, all stakeholders (from business partners to employees) should understand the dynamics of the business plan. The more people who are involved in the formation of the business plan, the more ideas you can circulate. It is important to consider everyone's input to ensure that the outcome is pleasant for all stakeholders.
A business plan still plays a critical role in launching a profitable and sustainable venture today. New trends and the data show that the best time to complete a robust plan may now come later in the business’ journey than it used to. When it comes to business plan creation there are now more templates and streamlined formats that are being adjusted to meet today’s needs to accommodate faster moving, leaner start-ups.
No matter how you do it, and who you’ll show your plan to, make sure to have someone with experience review it for you.