Write a forward-thinking business plan that will see you successfully into the future
No matter what stage your business is in, a business plan is the foundation upon which you build your entire company. Taking the time to write a comprehensive and well-researched plan is one of the best investments you can make for your venture. Not only will it provide you with a roadmap towards making your business a reality, it will enable you to pinpoint and solve potential issues with your business before they happen.
A good business plan focuses on several essential elements which outline the core purpose and functions of a business. Here are the seven essential elements you need to include in your business plan.
In this section, you’ll provide a brief (one page maximum), overarching summary of your business plan. Ensure that your executive summary is relevant and interesting – after all, it’s the first thing a potential investor will see! Though this is the first section you present in a business plan, it’s a good idea to write this section last, allowing you to easily and succinctly sum up the most important aspects of your venture.
This is your chance to introduce the reader to your company. Include information on your company history and the nature of your business, outline your legal/ownership structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation) and provide your mission statement and business objectives.
The company overview can also explain goals and forecasts for the future of the company. Keep these realistic and be sure to incorporate what you know about economic projections and new technologies that may affect your business.
Products and Services
This section is self-explanatory: it provides detailed information on the products and/or services offered by your company. Explain how the product is made, features and benefits (including competitive advantages over similar products and services), costs and any relevant research and development. If you can, include pictures and diagrams in this section.
This is where a lot of research will come in. In the market analysis, you’ll want to provide detailed information about the industry you want to work in, a competitive analysis of similar products and services and demographic information of the audiences you will be targeting. Make sure to include statistics and facts – not just first-person research you’ve conducted yourself.
The marketing plan is where you’ll illustrate how you plan to price, promote and sell your products and/or services. Include a detailed breakdown of your advertising strategies and tactics (will you focus on traditional advertising, new media, viral/guerrilla promotions, or a combination?) and other marketing initiatives and how you plan to sell your products and services – including distribution, pricing, buying cycles and logistics.
Organization and Operations
In this section, you’ll outline the organizational structure and basic operations of your company. Be sure to list owners, management, employees, as well as their responsibilities. Owners should be broken down as far as percentage of ownership, their background and relevant experience/skills. Include information about the board of directors, if your company has one.
For operations, you’ll want to define the company’s different departments, where you do business, how you produce your product (if applicable) and considerations for the future.
This is a critical part of your business plan. A significant amount of your time should be dedicated to creating a comprehensive and realistic financial plan. A solid financial plan will include projections for the next two years, showing potential investors how you plan to make money, compensate employees and pay back loans.
Consider how the changing consumer habits will impact your business profitability. How can you take advantage from these trends in terms of revenues and costs? Remember that the financial plan has to translate your whole business model into numbers!
If you’re ready to write your own business plan, Futurpreneur Canada’s Business Resource Centre is your one-stop-shop for the resources you need to launch, run and grow a successful start-up. Be sure to visit our interactive Business Plan Writer to simplify this essential step of starting your business at.ca/resources.