What Should Be In a Business Plan?
The thought of composing a business plan can be a daunting one. There can be so many numbers and so much data to deal with that it can seem overwhelming. However, while it may take time to aggregate all of the data you need, writing a business plan is easier than you may suspect. But there is more to it than the standard title, contents and executive summary pages.
The Project Section
This section summarises your plan, presents objectives and offers a description of your business and its operations. The project section demands attention to detail if your goal is to get the attention of potential investors.
The summary of your business plan should appear first in this section. Your summary should be simple, offering an outline of your plan and a summary of its main points. However, this is also the section that will make a potential investor sit up and take notice. And so it’s important to touch on why your business idea surpasses that of your competition.
This section is where you will take advantage of the opportunity to communicate your vision to potential investors. To make this easier, think about your business in terms of short, medium and long term, and create these subsections.
Under your short-term objectives, communicate your hopes for the business during its first year of trading. For medium term, focus on where you see your business going from the second to third year. Finally, for the long term, you will reveal where you see your business going in its fifth year.
The description section is where you will detail what your business provides to customers. If your business uses any kind of jargon, it’s important to include an explanation for each so that your description can be clearly communicated to anyone who is unfamiliar with the industry you plan to be working in.
The description must describe what you are selling. You can include photos to illustrate this point. The next thing it should accomplish is to communicate your USP, or unique selling position. This is a statement which explains what will cause customers to purchase your product or service and not those of your competitors.
Next, you will want to reveal how you will ensure that your idea will keep its uniqueness over time. This will require you to demonstrate knowledge about your market, as well as any processes you have that your competitors cannot copy. You will also need to detail what your products will cost and how you achieved this number.
The operations section provides details about your business from day to day. This includes several sub-sections such as production, delivery, payment, suppliers, premises, equipment, transport and any legal requirements or insurance. Basically, this section will cover the who, where, why, what and how of your business, to provide potential investors with a complete picture that covers how long it will take to make and deliver your product, how customers will pay, and how much items like suppliers and equipment will cost.
Market research is another vital section of your business plan. It should not only state whether or not there is a market for what you are selling, but it should also detail the level of demand and who your target market is.
For this section, you will need to locate specific information about your target market, which should focus on local and not worldwide customers. You will likely have more than one target market, and so it’s important to research and present detailed information on each one in your business plan.
Not only can a business plan communicate your idea to potential investors, but it’s also a great way to stay on track with your goals. Consider the benefits to you as well as to the investor when creating your plan.