Depending on your main purpose for having a business plan, you can develop sections with more diligence. For example, if you’re seeking outside funding, make sure that the financials section is as thorough and accurate as possible.
Before you start writing, get a sense of the scope of your pan by reading these brief descriptions of the basic parts you need to deal with:
- Executive summary: Although this part comes first in your plan, you typically write it last. You will need to highlight the major points from each of the other parts of the plan. This page is usually the first one that investors and other advisors read, and how well it’s written can determine whether they turn the page or show you the door.
- Business or product description: This section provides a detailed description of your overall business and your product or service. You should include a mission or vision statement that summarizes your goals for the business. When you describe your product or service, do not forget to pinpoint what makes it unique and viable contender in the marketplace.
- Market analysis: You will need to provide a thorough description of your target market. In this case, review on the competition in the industry and the marketing to your specific customers. Remember to include a description on any market research that you have conducted.
- Competitive analysis: As the same way you describe your target market in the market analysis, in this section you will provide an in-depth view of your competitors in that market. The more detail you can provide, the better to show exactly how well you understand and prepared in dealing with your competition. Address your competitors’ weaknesses and also state how you can counter their strengths.
- Management team: Whether you’re flying solo on this operation or working with a team, highlight the expertise that you and your executives bring to the table. Include summaries of your key professional experience, education background, additional certifications and completed training programs and all other relevant accomplishments. Do not forget to include a copy of your full resume.
- Operations: Use this section to describe your marketing and operation strategies. Include the details on how you plan to implement these strategies in your business. Think of the operations section as your chance to prove that you know how to convert innovative ideas into a successful business.
- Financials: Start talking about money. In this section, you include projections on the earnings in the business and your expenses or costs of doing the business. This combination is typically referred to as a profit-and-loss statement. For the first year, break down this information for each month. This listing demonstrates how far you must proceed into your first year before you start making money and indicates where seasonal slow points might occur, with smaller amounts of income coming in. After the first year, show your projections annually.
When you’re pursuing outside funding, try to be optimistic about your financial projections. Don’t be unrealistic, but don’t be too conservative, either. If you’re using the plan only internally, you can play it safe and estimate your future profits toward the lower end.
- Appendix: Consider this area a catchall for important documents that support portions of your business plan. Place copies of your loan terms, patent or copyright documentation, employee agreements, and any other contracts or legal documents pertaining to your business.