There's no greater pleasure than being your own boss. Striking out on your own, setting your hours, and charting your course. That's what you get when you start your own business, and there's a reason that small business owners are some of the most satisfied people in the country.
However, there are a lot of hurdles to get over if you want to start a small business. You need a lot of help to get up and running, from investors and from others who you'll need to join your team. You'll want to present them with a business plan.
What is a business plan? How can it help kickstart your company and get things going? Read on and we'll walk you through everything you need to know.
What Is a Business Plan?
While a business plan has the potential to be a very long, detailed piece of work, at the core it's a very simple thing: it is a plan for your business, just as the name states. That is, it is a plan that lays out all the basics of your business operations and how they will lead to your success.
Business plans may vary in form depending on the industry, location, and preferences of the person making the plan. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to making a business plan, though there are guidelines and general expectations it can be smart to adhere to.
Having a business plan can be helpful for yourself as a future business owner. It lays out a road map for the months and years ahead and helps you to be prepared to make your business work. It forces you to think, problem-solve, and create in ways that you otherwise might not.
It will also serve as a key document when you talk to others about your business. The business plan should essentially be your entire business on paper. It can exist as a representation of what could be if other people would get behind you.
Creating a Business Plan
As we said previously, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to a business plan. If you wanted to, you could create a one-sheet plan that covers the basics of your business. You could also create a thick packet filled to the brim with every detail.
No matter which direction you take, you'll likely want to include a few basics that many who will be looking at your document will seek out.
Title and Table of Contents
That would mean starting with a title page and contents. Those who are excited about your business are going to want to contact you and you're going to want to protect your work. You would have the name of the business and all of your associated contact information here, easily accessible.
A table of contents also makes it easy for a person who picks up your plan to flip right to the section that they are most interested in. If your plan is very short, this might not be necessary.
The executive summary kind of pulls all the threads of your business plan together upfront. It gives readers an expectation of what they are about to hear in more detail.
It says what your business is and the competitive advantage it has, highlights financial features, and lays out needs or financial requirements that must be filled. This means if you're looking for a new $25k investment, this would be the place to mention it.
The summary should be fairly short, really no more than half a page in total length. You should briefly touch on anything noteworthy you want the reader to know (there's a chance this is all they'll see!) but avoid going into much detail for the time being.
Description of the Business
This is where you can start getting into more detail, finally. The description of your business should dive into all matters of the kind of work you do or plan to do.
That means giving a general outline of the industry that you work in: the past, present, and likely future. You can include references and articles as appropriate.
Then shift your attention to your own business, giving a sense of the place you can hold within the industry as it exists today or will exist in the future. Give all the basic information on your business and your products so readers get the full picture.
Don't rely on conjecture or grand statements. Investors and money lenders are going to want to see hard facts, not flow word choice.
Market & Competitive Analysis
Once you've laid out all you can about your business and products, turn your eye to the potential audience for this product. This is the time to elaborate on who your demographic is, what they're interested in, and why they're going to fall in love with the product your business is planning on selling.
You'll need to show how your product, combined with Agile product management, can become a hit with your intended audience.
This kind of talk will need to touch on your marketing strategy as well as how you will rise above other similar businesses in the field. You'll need to be open about your potential weaknesses and blind spots as well.
Last but not least, you'll need to create a thorough breakdown of your potential finances. How much money will you need and how will this money be spent?
This isn't the time to get vague: investors are going to want to know this kind of stuff down to the penny. Make sure you've got all your finances mapped out and have laid a path that shows how your business will lead all this spending back to profitability.
Understanding Business Plans
What is a business plan? You'll certainly need to know this kind of document in and out if you want to launch your own small business one day. The above information can help.
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