A business plan is a written document that describes your business, its goals & objectives, your target market and financial requirements. A business plan helps you map out your mission and vision for your business. The process of preparing a business plan helps you develop clarity and focus on how to operate your new business and give it the best chance for success. A business plan is most often expected when applying for loans or grants.
The easiest way to start writing a business plan is to use a template. (We have one)
Start by defining your business objectives; keeping in mind who is going to read the plan. Your business goals help you decide how much emphasis to put on various sections of your plan. You will want to do some research in order to find out more about your industry, potential customers, competitors, sales and costs of doing business. A business plan is only as good as the research that went into producing it.
A traditional business plan will have eight key sections, including:
- Executive Summary
Complete this section last. The Executive Summary includes the key highlights of your plan including your target market, high level financials, key dates and if you are looking for financing.
- Identify Opportunities
Describe the unique selling points (USPs) of the product or service and your vision for the business. Provide context to your description as the reader will not know you therefore write clearly and concisely without acronyms and jargon.
- Market Research
Outline who your customers are, who your competitors are, and any current or future trends which will affect your market. Analyze your Primary and Secondary Research Data that you have conducted. Include information on the expected demand for your product or service, explaining how and why you have come to those assumptions.
- Marketing and Sales
Outline how you plan to reach out and sell to your target market. What are the strategies you will use and the budget / forecast for Marketing and Sales
- Your Team
Include biographies of key people in your business, a brief organizational chart and job description.
- Financial Forecasts
Include cash flow statements, profit and loss forecasts, and sales forecasts.
- Implementation Plan
List estimated dates of completion for different aspects of your business plan with targets for your business and milestones.
Include all licenses, permits, agreements, existing contracts and any additional documents that support your business plan.
The Business Advisory Centre Durham runs a workshop “The Business Plan Masterclass” that goes through this template and financial projections in a step by step manner.
Email us to get your business plan template