There are many tasks that come with starting a business, and you’ll need a documented business plan to keep them organized. Making a business plan can help you focus on the essentials, and this document can also help investors and lenders understand your company and provide you with financing.
If you’ve never made a business plan before, don’t sweat it. You can simply use the following guidelines to form a business plan template and fill in the information beneath each major section.
Your business plan should start with an executive summary. This section should be between 250 and 500 words long and provide a quick overview of the key points from the rest of the document. Remember, this section is for investors, lenders, and other “outsiders” to get a quick feel for the kind of business you’re starting.
When making a business plan, save this step for last since you’ll be summarizing the contents of the other sections.
Description of Company and Product Line
Your first major section should simply describe the nature of your business. This section includes basic information such as your business name and physical address, but should also answer such important questions as:
- What is your mission statement?
- What products or services does your business provide?
- What makes your business unique among others in your industry?
Here, you can be as detailed as possible, though you don’t necessarily have to go into a lot of market detail just yet.
When starting a business, it’s important to understand the state of the market you’re operating in:
- What trends will your business take advantage of?
- What consumer needs does your business satisfy?
- What is the state of the industry you’re operating in?
This section is where you can be a bit more data-driven and explain consumer trends using concrete numbers and figures. In some cases, this analysis will reflect the industry as a whole, though you can also illustrate how your company will uniquely capitalize on a particular consumer niche.
Making a business plan also means making a marketing plan. Your marketing plan should address the following:
- Who is your target audience?
- How will you market your business?
- What is your marketing budget?
Again, be specific. For example, if you plan on social media marketing, it’s important to explain which social media platforms you’ll use and how you’ll connect to your customer base using those channels.
Organization and Management
Your business plan should be very specific regarding who will manage your company. If you’re starting a business with someone else, your plan should include the partnership agreement details or mention that the partnership agreement is in the appendix.
Every person involved in managing the business should be accounted for in this section. Information about each person should include such data as:
- Prior experience
- Specific role within the company
In other words, this section of the document should include your professional bio, highlighting the skills and experience that will make you (or your partners) successful in this business.
It’s not easy to know how much revenue your business will pull in, but you can at least make estimates based on industry trends and how much you’ll need to cover your existing assets. For instance, how much money will you need to break even, given your marketing budget, inventory costs, and other overheads?
This insight helps you assemble a rough idea of how much profit you can expect to generate from your new business and can also show you areas where you’ll need to grow to attain success.
If you’re seeking a business loan, you’ll need to specify how much. You’ll also want to include some details about what this funding is meant to cover. Again, be very specific because you don’t want to have to come back and apply for a second loan if the first loan isn’t sufficient.
Extra data can be compiled and stored in the appendix. In the body of your business plan, you can direct readers to the appendix for additional details and data or supplemental documents such as a partnership agreement, franchise agreement, or other foundational documents.
Franchises Make It Easy
The easiest way to start a new business is to start a franchise. Franchises allow their owners all of the freedom of a new business with the support of a parent company. Use the locator tool on Franchise Gator to find opportunities in your area and see how you can benefit from a franchise.