Your business plan is the backbone of your company. This is the first step in determining if your business idea is feasible or not. The planshould discuss the different elements of the business and moreimportantly, how you can make it into a reality.
Execution is key.Planning is great because it gathers all your ideas onto paper, butwithout a clear method of executing these ideas it will always stay inthe concept phase.
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Another reason for creating a business plan is to get financing. No institution will give you a loan unless you have drafted a formal plan for the business. So better get on your computer and dosome serious contemplating.
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So what do you need to include in your business plan?
It should start with an executive summary. Typically, I wouldrecommend you writing this section last because it’s the most importantpiece, and you should be clear about what your company is before youstart writing it. It’s the first thing investors and lenders will see.It’s also what I would call your “elevator pitch” on paper. You need tocaptivate your reader or else there’s no incentive for them to continuereading through the rest of your plan. It defines the concept of yourbusiness, what products or services you plan to offer, how you plan tofund and grow the business, and also you. What is your role? It provides an overview of what the reader can expect from the remainder of thebusiness plan. Try and keep this to 1-2 pages.
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The second part of the business plan is the basic description of thecompany. This includes the company name, the purpose of the business,company goals and objectives, and what particular skills you (and yourpartners) have that brought about the creation of the business. It is an elaboration of initial business concept you introduced in the executive summary. Is it a beauty salon? If so, what skills or training courseshave made you an expert in the industry? This information is relevant so the reader can gauge if you have the right skills to provide what thebusiness needs.
The third step is to explain the product and/or service that yourbusiness will supply. This will include an explanation of how you planto provide or manufacture it, what are the costs to make it happen, andthe list of suppliers that you plan to get it from.
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The fourth part of the business plan is the market. What are theongoing trends in the industry? Is it growing? If yes, what will you doto make sure you can ride that growing trend to make your businessprosper? Be as detailed as possible by describing the segment anddemographics of your market. What are their buying habits and howqualified are they to make the purchase of your service?
The fifth part is all about your competition. This can actually be apart of your market segment, but it can sustain its own portion in thebusiness plan. It is important that you tread carefully here and behonest about your standing against the competition.
Just starting out,you will definitely be at a disadvantage compared to those who have been in the industry for quite some time. But remember, you can always dwell on what you have that they do not have. It can be a great management, a new product, an alternative solution to a long standing problem in theindustry – anything that will prove you have a fighting chance againstthe competition.
The sixth portion is a brief description of your marketing plan. List down the various ways you plan to market your product, service, orcompany. Will you go into advertising? If so, what form of advertisingwill you tap into? Will you employ a public relations officer or get aservice provider to create your PR needs?
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Will you utilize social mediaoutlets?
Typically newer social networks, like Twitter and Pinterest,have a higher percentage of women users than men. If you are marketingto this segment, it is highly recommended that you have a presence inthese networks. List all your strategies down and how you project theywill help you get the market to notice that you now exist. Make sure togive the cost estimates for your marketing plans.
The last part of the business plan is probably the most importantone: the figures. Here, place your sales forecasts depending on yoursales and marketing strategies. Side by side, indicate the costs neededto implement and sustain them.
You need to illustrate how you plan toprofit despite the various expenses. It is best to indicate yourfinancial goals. Keep them high and at the same time, reasonable. Itwill help make your business plan creation a lot easier if you havecollated all the information and research needed prior to writing itdown. If you need to put statistics of the market, you can check outreliable online statistical sites like the official website of the USBureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov) or the Sifma.org(www.sifma.org).
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There are also trade journals that you can obtain for a price.
Try not to make the business plan too lengthy. The investors andlenders who will read your plan would want everything to be concise yetcomplete. Keep in mind the people who are reading your document need toenjoy what you have created. Keep this business plan with you andcontinually update it when there is a growth or setback. It helps tostay on track and keep your company moving forward.