How To Start A Business Plan – Your business plan is the foundation of your business. Learn how to write a business plan quickly and efficiently with a business plan template.
A good business plan guides you through every stage of starting and running your business. You will use your business plan as a road map for how to structure, manage and grow your new business. It’s a way to think about the key elements of your business.
How To Start A Business Plan
Business plans can help you get financing or attract new business partners. Investors want to feel confident that they will see a return on their investment. Your business plan is the tool you’ll use to convince people that working with you – or investing in your company – is a smart choice.
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There is no right or wrong way to write a business plan. The important thing is that your plan fits your needs.
Traditional business plans are more common, use a standard structure, and encourage you to go into detail in each section. They usually require more work up front and can be tens of pages long.
Lean startup business plans are less common, but still use a standard structure. They focus on summarizing only the most important points of the key elements of your plan. They can take as little as an hour to make and are usually just one page.
This type of plan is very detailed, takes more time to write, and is comprehensive. Lenders and investors usually want this plan.
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This type of plan is high-level focused, quick to write, and contains only key elements. Some lenders and investors may ask for more information.
You may prefer a traditional business plan format if you are very detail-oriented, want a comprehensive plan, or plan to seek funding from traditional sources.
When writing your business plan, you don’t have to stick to the exact outline of the business plan. Instead, use the sections that make the most sense for your business and your needs. Traditional business plans use a combination of these nine sections.
Briefly tell your reader what your company is and why it will be successful. Include your mission, your product or service, and basic information about your company’s leadership team, employees, and location. You should also include financial information and high-level growth plans if you plan to request funding.
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Use your company description to provide detailed information about your company. Go into detail about the problems your business solves. Be specific and list the users, organization or business your company plans to serve.
Explain the competitive advantages that will make your business successful. Are there experts on your team? Found the perfect location for your store? Your company description is the place to show off your strengths.
You will need a good understanding of the outlook for your industry and target market. Competitive research will show you what other businesses are doing and what their strengths are. In your market research, look for trends and themes. What do successful competitors do? Why does it work? Can you do it better? Now is the time to answer these questions.
Describe the legal structure of your business. Indicate whether you have or intend to incorporate your business as a C or S corporation, form a general or limited partnership, or if you are a sole proprietor or LLC.
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Use an organizational chart to outline who is responsible for what in your company. Show how each person’s unique experience will contribute to the success of your venture. Consider including resumes and resumes of key members of your team.
Describe what you sell or what service you offer. Explain how this benefits your customers and what the product life cycle looks like. Share your intellectual property plans, such as copyright or patent applications. If you do research and development for your service or product, explain it in detail.
There is no single way to approach a marketing strategy. Your strategy should evolve and change to meet your unique needs.
Your goal in this section is to describe how you will attract and retain customers. You will also describe how the sale will actually happen. You will refer to this section later when making financial projections, so be sure to detail your complete marketing and sales strategies.
How To Start A Business And Why You Need A Business Plan
If you are requesting funding, this is where you will outline your funding requirements. Your goal is to clearly explain how much money you will need over the next five years and what you will use it for.
Specify whether you want debt or equity, the terms you want to apply and the length of time your request will cover. Give a detailed description of how you will use your funds. Indicate whether you need funds to purchase equipment or materials, pay salaries, or cover specific bills until revenue increases. Always include a description of your future strategic financial plans, such as paying off debt or selling your business.
Complete your funding request with financial projections. Your goal is to convince the reader that your business is stable and will be financially successful.
If your business is already established, include income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements for the last three to five years. If you have other collateral that you could put up against a loan, be sure to list it now.
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Provide a future financial outlook for the next five years. Include projected income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and capital expenditure budgets. For the first year, be even more specific and use quarterly or even monthly forecasts. Make sure you clearly explain your projections and match them with your funding requests.
This is a great place to use graphs and charts to tell the financial story of your business.
Use your application to provide supporting documents or other materials that are specifically requested. Common items to include are credit histories, resumes, product photos, letters of reference, licenses, permits or patents, legal documents, permits, and other contracts.
Before writing your business plan, read these sample business plans written by fictional business owners. Rebecca owns a consulting firm and Andrew owns a toy company.
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You may prefer a simple startup format if you want to explain or launch your business quickly, your business is relatively simple, or you plan to regularly change and refine your business plan.
Lean startup formats are diagrams that use only a few elements to describe your company’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances. They are useful for visualizing trade-offs and key facts about your company.
There are many versions of lean startup templates, but one of the oldest and most famous is the Business Model Canvas developed by Alex Osterwalder. You can search the web for free business model canvas templates or other versions to build your business plan.
Consider the other companies or services you will be working with to run your business. Consider suppliers, manufacturers, subcontractors and similar strategic partners.
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List the ways your business will gain a competitive advantage. Emphasize things like selling directly to consumers or using technology to tap into the sharing economy.
List every resource you will use to create value for your customer. Your most important assets may include personnel, capital or intellectual property. Be sure to use business resources that may be available for women, veterans, Native Americans, and HUBZone businesses.
Describe how customers will interact with your business. Is it automated or personal? In person or online? Consider the user experience from start to finish.
Be specific when naming your target market. Your business won’t be for everyone, so it’s important to have a clear idea of who your business will serve.
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List the most important ways you will talk to your customers. Most businesses use a mix of channels and optimize them over time.
Will your company focus on cost reduction or value maximization? Define your strategy, then list the most significant costs you will face to follow it.
Explain how your company will actually make money. Some examples are direct sales, membership fees, and selling advertising space. If your company has multiple sources of revenue, list them all.
Before you write your business plan, read this sample business plan written by a fictional business owner, Andrew, who owns a toy company. For more than four decades, Greenfield Advisors has been a leader in real estate valuation, specifically in the area of Contaminated Properties. But that’s not all we do. Although our main areas of expertise are related to real estate, our team is also able to use their analytical skills in other areas, including economic analysis.
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For entrepreneurs and investors, starting a business or taking an idea from the drawing board to the ribbon cutting can seem like a long road filled with obstacles. To navigate the path to success, entrepreneurs need a road map to help them get to the finish line.
Greenfield Advisors provides business plans that enable entrepreneurs to understand their next steps to ensure their proposed company starts off on the right foot and stays on the path to success.
The process begins when our team gathers all the necessary information about a proposed business. Data is collected on potential locations, projected financial performance, occupancy expectations, marketing plans, market reach, and the goods or services offered for sale, among other data.
The team then divides the project into different parts. The financial analysis is done by our
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