Writing a business plan can be a daunting task. Just like anything else in life, a plan is an essential tool for success. We have all witnessed an under capitalized business shutter up soon after opening. A business plan should tell a compelling story about what you do and why consumers would want to buy your service or product. A good plan is a living document that shows viability and growth and should be updated on regular basis. There are multiple websites and templates on the internet that help organize the process. In addition, the Small Business Association (SBA) offers some good resources to guide you through your journey.
There are various types of business plans used for different stages of growth. Stages include; start-ups, post launch, line of credit needs and expansion & growth. Determine what stage of your business lifecycle you are facing and tailor your plan accordingly. Consider the audience, are you looking for investors, partners, stakeholders or a line of credit? Regardless of your lifecycle, a business plan sets you up for success.
Business Plans should answer a litany of what, who, why and how questions:
- What is the problem that your business is solving?
- Why do consumers want your product or service?
- What are your key features?
- How much capital is required?
- What challenges could impede growth?
- What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
These questions should be answered in sections and clearly articulated for the reader to understand and process. Whether looking for capital or seed money, defining business objectives and goals in a logical and disciplined way will make the difference between success and failure. There are several standard sections that must be included, the outline provided illustrates a framework to get started.
The business plan framework is very simple, and outline in this graphic:
The Final Steps:
Why should a bank or investor help you? How much do you need? When will you be able to pay it back? What is the investor going to get out of the deal?
Key Inclusions & FAQ’s
- How long will the cash or requested funding you receive last? What will it cover in terms of growth. What type of funding are you requesting? Debt, Equity, Angel?
This is an as needed section but you should have it organized in case a lender asks.
Key Inclusions & FAQ’s
- Include legal paperwork, letters of reference, customer testimonials, permits, contracts, leases, attorneys, accountants and your business manager.
Now that the framework is in place, start writing and don’t stop until the plan is done. When presenting to investors tell a story that sells your business idea simply and succinctly. Describe how you make money and what the best thing about your product or service is. The foundation you establish today will be rewarded tomorrow.