by Stephanie Watson
Published on 14 November 2012
Creating a business plan is the first step to starting a successful business. I stress the word "successful" because it's a proven fact that people who have a plan, even when they modify it as time goes on, are more successful than those without a plan. Having a business plan shows how serious you are, lays out short and long term milestones, helps you understand your competition, and your customers. It's a document of how you will make money, determines your financial needs, and attracts investors.
The process of writing a business plan isn't really that hard. In fact, it can be a very interesting to learn about your competition and discover issues you may not have considered before you started writing it. During the process you'll source product, software, and all supplies, services and needs that you may not have thought about before without doing a business plan. Luckily there are applications that can help you with your business plan. I highly recommend you check out the various programs, read the reviews, and pick something to assist you.
The main components of a business plan are as follows, but keep in mind you can skip over some of them if they do not apply to your situation. However, try to be as complete as possible because the more thorough you are the better your results will be.
Executive Summary - This can be as small as a paragraph or as long as two pages. This is usually written after the rest of the business plan is written and is essentially a summary of your entire plan.
Business Overview - This section will include problem you will solve, your unique selling point, your companies mission statement, values and actual products you will sell.
Environment Overview - Discussion of the marketplace, who your customers are, who is your competition and how you will differentiate yourself. Essentially it's a SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats) overview.
Description of your Business - Describe everyone who is starting the business and include people you know who will be employees. What makes you (as a group) capable and perfect for performing the business you plan to start successfully?
Strategic Overview - This section is a point by point discussion of what you want to achieve. Use the SWOT to mention every aspect of what you'll do over time in every aspect of your business: Management, Technology, Marketing, Growth, Human Resources, Accounting and so forth.
Financial Overview - This includes all your financial statements, along with a summary of where you stand today financially and where you plan to be for the short term and long term.
Tactical Overview - Using your strategic plan, this section describes the exact steps you'll take to meet your goals.
Some businesses need a huge binder or several binders for their entire business plan, but many small businesses can write their business plan in a few pages. The important thing is that you understand why you should write a business plan, and do it now. It is because you take your business seriously and want to be successful. Anytime you take a trip, you can't be fully successful without a map to get you there. Your business plan is your road-map to success.