The is your guide to forming a perfect business plan. The outline contains different sections in chronological order. A brief yet concise explanation of each section has been given to guide you properly in forming an effective plan.
Each section is given with its respective title. You can follow the title link to lead to the section article which explains it. There are also some examples given as links. For reference, you can use them to write your own business plan by following them for guidance.
Following the sections properly is the best structure to use. This is because every section is supposed to be the building block of an effective business plan which will help you get what want.
Although this has been placed first, this section is written last. Like the title suggests, this is the summary of all the essential elements of your business plan. Extra care should be taken to form a concise executive summary. The executive summary is the first thing which catches the readers attention. Therefore, an excellent executive summary will give a good first impression which is very important in getting your plan approved. (Here is an example of an executive summary which you can follow)
This portion of your business plan has three major portions.
- Industry Trends
- Major Players in Industry
- Estimated Industry Sales
The fourth thing which adds extra flavour is the summary of the position of your business in the industry.
Your primary target market will be in this section of your business plan. Your service or product must target specific market which includes planning geographic and demographic details. The purpose of this section is to show your reader that you have meticulously planned the details of your marketing. Important details like your targeted customer base and geographic location should be included. You must also include predictions about your sales, planning on every side which will form an impression of thorough planning.
This section explains your knowledge about your competitors. Following details should be included to add weight to your business plan.
- Direct and indirect competitors analysis
- Assessment of the advantage they hold in market
- A plan of how you will overcome your hurdles in the market
- How your business differs from other ones in market, what advantage do you hold
This all must be thoroughly planned to convince the reader if you are seeking the approval of your plan.
- Marketing Plan:
Your marketing plan section should include the following parts:
- Your sales strategy explained in detail
- Pricing plan for your sales
- Advertising and promotional methods employed
- The distinct benefits of your service or products
The purpose here is to convince the reader of how your service/product is for the market and how it will attract people.
This is an important part of your business plan. This section deals with the legal structure your business is going to follow, along with the management resources. In devising the legal structure, you should add following portions,
- Internal and external management resources along with human resources needs
- Advisors, board structure and management resource. This is especially helpful when seeking investment.
The operating plan is basically how your business is going to work and operate. It will include the physical location, facilities, equipment, employees needed, detail of inventory, suppliers and manufacturing of product or service delivery details. It may also include key business processes.
This involves the detailed plans of your financial needs. You will also need to present the financial statement and its analysis. There are three main portions of your financial documents:
- Balance Sheet
- Income Statement
- Cash Flow statement
An additional option is cash flow projection which is a requirement of a new startup. (Follow this example to follow a financial plan)
Appendices and Exhibits:
This is additional information which can be at the end to add value and credibility to your business plan. It may involve things like the images of your product, marketing studies, contracts and legal agreements related to your business.
Question: Does the order of sections matter?
Answer: While it may matter to some extent, the chronological order is helpful but is not be absolutely necessary. By default, the executive summary will have to be included first since as prepares the reader, which the reader will see first.
While following an order may help, putting your best section ahead of all has merits, keeping the reader attention. This is because putting forward the strengths of your business plan will achieve this.
The presentation of your business plan is another important part.
The business plan is a formal document and the reader will find it impressive if it is presented in a suitable form.
You should take extra care of the lines and margins, along with spellings and grammatical errors. You should also use proper words avoiding jargon for explaining the business plan.
After the document has been checked for possible grammar issues, it should be printed and bound in a professional manner. It may worth investing a little more asking a specialist designer or printer. The presentation is one of the key components of success.
Taylor Mason can offer business planning consultancy, staff training courses, and a number of one-day skills training courses.