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Steps to Get Started on Your Business Plan
If you’re like most small business owners, you know that a business plan is essential to your success. But what do you actually need to include in your plan? How can you make sure it’s thorough and covers all the bases? It’s not as difficult as you might think.
Here are some key steps to get started on your small business plan.
1. Consultant or Business Plan Writer
The first step is to decide whether you’re going to write the plan yourself or hire someone to do it for you. There are pros and cons to both options. If you choose to do it yourself, you’ll be able to save money but it will take some time and effort on your part. Hiring a professional business plan writer will cost more, but it can save you a lot of time and hassle in the long run. Also, a business plan consultant can provide valuable insights and feedback that you might not get if you go it alone. Additionally, if you’re seeking funding from investors or lenders, they will likely want to see a professionally written business plan.
2. Define Your Business
The next step is to clearly define your business. What products or services will you offer? Who is your target market? What are your long-term goals? Answering these questions will give you a good foundation for writing your business plan. Additionally, you should do some research on your industry and competitors. This will help you better understand the market you’re entering and give you some ideas for how to position your business. It’s also a good idea to develop a marketing plan at this stage so you can start thinking about how you’ll promote your business and attract customers.
3. Write Your Executive Summary
Once you have a clear understanding of your business and what you hope to achieve, you’re ready to start writing your business plan. The first section is the executive summary. This is a brief overview of your business and what it will do. It should include your company’s mission statement, a description of your products or services, your target market, and your long-term goals. This section should be no more than one or two pages. It’s important to keep it concise so that investors and lenders can get a quick snapshot of your business.
4. Write Your Business Description
The next section of your business plan is the business description. This is where you’ll provide more details about your company, including its history, structure, and management team. You should also include information on your customers and competitors here. This section can be several pages long, depending on the detail you want to include. Additionally, you can attach supporting documents, such as market research reports, to this section. If you’re including these, be sure to reference them in the body of your business plan.
5. Write Your Market Analysis
In this section of your business plan, you’ll provide an in-depth look at your target market. This includes information on your customers, their needs, and how you plan to reach them. You should also include a competitive analysis here. This is where you’ll evaluate your competition and explain how you plan to stand out in the market. This section can be several pages long, depending on the size of your market and the amount of competition you have. If you’re doing extensive market research, you can attach it to this section as well. Additionally, if you have any intellectual property, such as patents or copyrights, you should include them in this section as well.
6. Write Your Sales and Marketing Plan
In this section, you’ll detail your sales and marketing strategy. How will you promote your business? What channels will you use to reach your target market? What are your sales goals? This is an important section for lenders and investors, as it will show them how you plan to generate revenue and grow your business. This section can be several pages long, depending on the complexity of your sales and marketing strategy. If you have a detailed plan, you can attach it to this section as well. Additionally, if you have any sales or marketing collateral, such as website copy or print ads, you should include them in this section as well.
7. Include a Table of Contents
Most business plans will have a table of contents near the front of the document, after the executive summary. This will help your reader easily find the information they are looking for. Additionally, it will give you a good idea of what needs to be included in your business plan. If you are not sure what should be in your table of contents, take a look at some sample business plans for inspiration. It’s important to remember that your table of contents should be specific to your business and should be updated as you make changes to your plan. This is not a place to be general or vague.
8. Outline Your Marketing Plan
The last section of your business plan is the appendix. This is where you’ll include any additional information that is not essential to the body of your plan. This can include things like your resume, letters of recommendation, market research reports, financial projections, and more. If you’re including any supporting documents, be sure to reference them in the body of your business plan. Additionally, if you have any digital assets, such as website copy or logo files, you should include them in this section as well. It’s also a good idea to include a list of your team members and their contact information here.
A business plan is a crucial document for any business. It provides a roadmap for your business and can help you secure funding from lenders or investors. While it may seem daunting to write a business plan, it doesn’t have to be. Just start with these eight steps and you’ll be well on your way to creating a great business plan. Additionally, there are plenty of resources available to help you, including business plan templates and software. So don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.