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2. Have a thorough plan: Document all aspects of your company.

❶Write down all the specific needs your company will satisfy.

1. Describe your startup.




Lewis on January 26, Determine the type of business plan you will use. While all business plans share the common objective of describing a businesses purpose and structure, analyzing the marketplace, and creating cash flow projections, the types of plans differ. There are three major kinds. This is a shorter plan likely 10 pages or less , and is useful for determining potential interest in your business, further exploring a concept, or starting point to a full plan.

This is a great starting point. This can be considered the full version of the miniplan, and its main purpose is to outline, without emphasis on appearance, precisely how to build and operate the business. This is the plan that the business owner would refer to regularly as the business moves towards its objectives. The presentation plan is meant for individuals other than those owning and operating the business.

This could include potential investors or bankers. It is essentially the working plan, but with an emphasis on sleek, marketable presentation, and proper business language and terminology.

Whereas the working plan is made for reference by the owner, the presentation needs to be written with investors, bankers, and the public in mind. Understand the basic structure of the business plan. Whether you opt for a miniplan, or a comprehensive working plan to start, it is essential to understand the basic elements of a business plan.

The business concept is the first broad element of a business plan. The focus here is on the description of your business, its market, its products, and its organizational structure and management. The market analysis is the second major element of a business plan. Your business will operate within a particular marketplace, and it is important to understand customer demographics, preferences, needs, buying behavior, as well as the competition.

The financial analysis is the third component of the business plan. If your business is new, this will include projected cash flows, capital expenditures, and the balance sheet. It will also include forecasts as to when the business will break-even. If you lack business or financial education, it is never a bad idea to enlist the help of an accountant to assist with the financial analysis portion of the plan.

The above sections are the broad components of the business plan. These sections in turn break down into the following seven sections, which we will, in order, focus on writing next: Company description, market analysis, organization structure and management, products and services, marketing and sales, and request for funding. Format your document correctly. Format section titles in Roman Numeral order.

Write your company description as the first section. To do this, describe your business and identify the marketplace needs for your product or service. Briefly describe your key customers and how you intend to succeed. Joe's coffee is located one block from the local University, and aims to provide a comfortable environment for students, professors, and downtown employees to study, socialize, or simply relax between classes or meetings.

By focusing on excellent ambiance, close location, premium products, and superb customer service, Joe's coffee will differentiate itself from its peers.

Write your market analysis. The purpose of this section is explore and demonstrate knowledge of the market your business is operating within.

You should be able to answer questions like, who is your target market? What are their needs and preferences? How old are they, and where are they located? Make sure to include a competitive analysis that provides research and information on immediate competitors. List your main competitors strengths and weaknesses and the potential impact on your business. This section is extremely important, as it outlines how your business will gain market share by capitalizing on competitor's weaknesses.

Describe your company's organizational structure and management. This section of the business plan focuses on key personnel. Include details about the business owners and its management team. If the owners and managers and have extensive backgrounds in the industry or a track record of success, highlight it.

If you have an organizational chart, include it. Describe your product or service. What are you selling? What's so great about your product or service? How will customers benefit? How is it better than your competitors products or services? Do you currently have or anticipate developing a prototype, or filing for a patent or copyright? Note all planned activities.

For example, if you are writing a plan for a coffee shop, you would include a detailed menu that would outline all your products. Before writing the menu, you would include a short summary indicating why your particular menu sets your business apart from others. You may state, for example, "Our coffee shop will provide five different types of beverages, including coffee, teas, smoothies, soda's, and hot chocolates. Our wide variety will be a key competitive advantage as we can provide a diversity of product offerings that our main competitors are currently not offering".

Write your marketing and sales strategy. In this section, explain how you intend to penetrate the market, manage growth, communicate with customers, and distribute your products or services. Will you use sales representatives, billboard advertising, pamphlet distribution, social media marketing, or all of the above? Make a funding request. If you will use your business plan to secure funding, include a funding request. Explain how much money you need to start and maintain your small business.

Provide an itemized summary of how start-up capital will be used. Give a timeline for your funding request. To accurately complete this step, in some cases it might be necessary to hire an accountant, lawyer, or other professional. For one full year, provide monthly and quarterly statements.

Each year after that, yearly statements. These documents will be placed in the Appendix Section of your business plan. Include projected cash flows for at least 6 years or until stable growth rates are achieved and if possible, a valuation calculation based on discounted cash flows. Write the executive summary. Your executive summary will serve as an introduction to your business plan. It will include your company's mission statement and provide readers with an overview of your products or services, target market, and goals and objectives.

Remember to place this section at the beginning of your document. When was the business first conceptualized? What are some notable growth benchmarks? Start-ups will focus more on industry analysis and their funding goal. Mention the company's corporate structure, its funding requirement, and if you will provide equity to investors. Existing businesses and start-ups should highlight any major achievements, contracts, current or potential clients and summarize future plans.

This is the very last section and it's meant to provide additional information. Potential investors might want to see this information before making a decision. The documents you include here should support claims made in other sections of the business plan. There should a section clearly outlining the risk factors affecting your venture and your mitigation plans. Analyze the potential markets for your business.

This needs to be more than mere guesswork and involves doing accurate and intelligent research. You need to analyze secondary research collected by outside observers, as well as getting primary research that you collect yourself, with your own methods and observations. Consider the following areas of inquiry: Is there a viable market for the product or service you want to sell? How old are your potential customers? What do they do for a living? Is your product or service attractive to a particular ethnic or economic population?

Will only wealthy people be able to afford it? Does your ideal customer live in a certain type of neighborhood or area? Establish the size of your potential market. It's important to be as specific as possible in regard to your market and your product.

From there, you can analyze demographic information more specifically: How many car mechanics are in need of soap in any given community? How many children in the United States are currently under the age of eight?

How much soap will they use in a month or a year? How many other soap manufacturers already have a share of the market? How big are your potential competitors? What will you require to get started? Some may be tangible, such as five hundred file folders and a large cabinet in which to store them all. Other requirements may be intangible, such as time to create a product design or to do market research on potential customers.

What exactly will your mousetrap look like? What materials will you need? Do you require money for research and development to improve on your original toothpaste tube and paper clip construction? Do you need to hire an engineer to draw up accurate manufacturing designs?

Should you patent your invention? Will you need to investigate federal safety standards for mousetraps? Research possible locations for your business. Make a chart of the most expensive and least expensive sites by location and square footage. Determine your start-up cost. Make a list of all the tangible and intangible resources you need to get your business going. Be honest and conservative in your estimates, but also be optimistic. Don't aim for the best of everything at the beginning.

You can forgo the expensive trimmings of an office of a more well-established company and stick to the basics at the beginning. Get what is affordable, works and is actually needed and don't buy frills. Put yourself in the shoes of potential investors. Depending on your product, you may need to search long and hard for relevant information. Don't lose heart if you discover some, or even all, of your ideas have been adequately covered by the market. Don't ignore this reality; instead, work with it.

Can you still do a better job or provide a better widget than your competitors? In many cases, it's likely that you can provided you know the market well and how to add value in ways your competitors are not doing.

In other cases, it may be a case of focusing more narrowly or more broadly than your competitors are doing. They follow specific guidelines, such as the Risk Management Association R. A database, which are designed to ensure that they will make money by investing in or lending to your business. Lenders will typically look to the company's Capital, Capacity, Collateral, Conditions, and Character or what is known as the 5C's of lending when underwriting a loan.

You'll need to have covered all these bases well before seeking funding. A business plan won't be useful until you're certain what your company exists for.

What will you accomplish for others? What products and services will you produce or provide? Write down all the specific needs your company will satisfy.

Potential investors need to know that your business will be meaningful and marketable to people who can use your product or service. So concentrate on the external needs your company will meet. What will your product or service enable people to do better, more cheaply, more safely, or more efficiently? Will your new mousetrap help people capture mice without feeling sick to their stomachs?

Will your new bubblegum scented bubble bath revolutionize the way children agree to take nightly baths? Choose a winning strategy. How will you distinguish your product or service from others? Although there are millions of types of businesses, there are actually only a few basic strategies that can be applied to make any enterprise successful.

The first step in selecting an effective strategy is to identify a competitive advantage for your product or service. Your competitive advantage may include designing special features not found in rival products. It may entail superior service characteristics such as speedier delivery, a lower price, or more attentive sales people——these are never to be sniffed at as possible winning ways, as many companies grow complacent and can be overtaken by giving customers experiences that are better than the average expectations.

Consider how will you hire and organize your workforce. Keep in mind that your initial plans will undoubtedly change as your business grows.

You may need to hire more managers to supervise your expanding staff or to set up new departments to meet new customer demands. For now, you want to secure help in getting started and convince your funding sources that you will become profitable. Consider the practical issues of running a business. Think about your role as leader or boss of the business. As you think about hiring personnel and organizing your workforce, you must also confront your desire and ability to be a good boss.

Decide how you will handle your employees' entitlements. For example, salaries and wages, their insurance and retirement benefits, as well as analyzing the extent of your knowledge of tax related issues. Do you need to bring in experienced managers right away? Will you keep some of the existing employees or hire all new people? And where do you find these potential employees? Funding sources will also want to know if any of your partners expect to work alongside you or if their obligations are only financial.

Your plan will need to specify the key management jobs and roles. Positions such as president, vice presidents, chief financial officer, and managers of departments will need to be defined along with stating who reports to whom. Decide on a marketing plan. Consider how will you reach your customers. What will you say to persuade and convince customers that your product or service is better value, more timely, more useful, etc.

If it currently has no rival, how will you properly explain the purpose of and the consumer's need for the product? What advertising and promotional efforts will you employ? For example, two for the price of one specials or free coupons inside those same kid-oriented cereal boxes? Where can you locate lists of the greatest concentrations of children under the age of eight or whatever group constitutes your market? Build a dynamic sales effort.

In a nutshell, this part of your business plan is about how you will attract customers or clients for your product or services. What will your basic sales philosophy be? Building long-term relationships with a few major clients or developing a clientele of many short-term customers? Organize all the relevant information about your business. Begin creating section headings and putting the appropriate information under the appropriate headings. Title Page and Table of Contents Executive Summary , in which you summarize your vision for the company General Company Description , in which you provide an overview of your company and the service it provides to its market Products and Services , in which you describe, in detail, your unique product or service Marketing Plan , in which you describe how you'll bring your product to its consumers Operational Plan , in which you describe how the business will be operated on a day-to-day basis Management and Organization , in which you describe the structure of your organization and the philosophy that governs it Financial Plan , in which you illustrate your working model for finances and your need from investors.

Write the executive summary last. The executive summary is basically your big appeal to investors, or really anyone who reads your business plan, that should summarize and articulate what it is that's great about your business model and product.

It should be less about the nitty-gritty details of operations and more about your grand vision for the company and where it is headed. Gather all the information together and prepare multiple drafts. You've done all of the hard work researching, deciding what your business is about, targeting it accurately and selling it. It's time to put the business plan together and articulate all your thinking, research, and hard work into a comprehensive description of your structure and service.

At first, do not worry about capitalization, punctuation, and grammar. All you need to worry about is putting your ideas down on paper. Once you have a general form, you can spend time proofreading your plan and correcting mistakes. Have someone else read over it for you and take heed of their comments. Sell yourself and your business. The idea of the business plan is to present yourself in the best light. The talents, experience and enthusiasm you bring to your enterprise are unique.

They provide some of the most compelling reasons for others to finance your concept. Keep in mind that investors invest in people more than ideas.

Even if your potential business has many competitors or is not on the cutting edge of an industry, the qualifications and commitment you demonstrate in your plan can convince others to proffer their support. Focus on group experiences, leadership opportunities, and successes at all levels. Present and explain your financial data. How will you convince others to invest in your endeavor? By having clear, transparent and realistic financial information that shows you know what you're talking about and that you're not hiding anything.


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Jan 30,  · They also help you answer the most important question to include when you write the Executive Summary of your business plan, which is this: why is your business . We would like to show you a description here but the site won’t allow us.

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If you are struggling to write a business plan, help is here! This guide will explain why a business plan is a must-have for most small businesses, and give you tips on how to write one. Oct 23,  · How to Write a Business Plan [Updated for ] by: Remember, your business plan is a tool to help you build a better business, not just a homework assignment. Good business plans are living documents that you return to on a regular basis and update as you learn more about your customers, sales and marketing tactics that work (and don’t /5().