Business Plan: A business plan is a formal document which describes the business, details the goals of the business, and describes how those goals will be attained as well as the risk factors that may present problems.
The Business Plan Overview
A business plan will typically be made up of the following elements. Use a step-by-step process similar to this when outlining key points:
- Start with a description or story about the business. The description should go into some details and talk about your vision, the market, and the people involved with the business.
- Include market analysis. This should be considered to fully understand the market opportunities and the competition that is currently present, along with potential future competition.
- Prepare a SWOT report. A SWOT report is a short discussion on the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of your business.
- Include financial projections. Do this initially, to get the company started, and then prepare an annual budget for the first few years.
- Include a marketing plan. This should discuss in more detail how you plan to market the business.
- Detail key employees, daily operations, and staffing requirements. Again, discuss the business at start-up and for the first few years.
There are a number of resources available to help assist you in preparing a business plan. Too many business owners think they have a good idea and decide that a good idea warrants starting a new business. If business owners take the time to prepare a business plan, they might find that risk factors, originally undetected, become evident in the business plan and decide against starting a new business. It is far better to invest the time in writing a business plan than to invest more time and money in a failed idea. After the business plan is prepared and the business started, keep the business plan available and revisit it every couple years. Make updates to the plan and use it as a working document to help aid your success.