Whether you’re just starting up a new business or you’re just starting to make bigger business moves, your business needs a legit plan.
So, with help from small business mentor Len Briskman, we’ve broken the whole process down into seven simple components every business plan needs, plus a step-by-step guide to make sure it’s written perfectly. You’ll have a legit business plan ready to go in no time. Go you.
Basically, a business plan is a document that formally lays out your goals and serves as a roadmap that shows how you plan to achieve them. It includes your business model, budget, marketing plan and more.
No matter what stage of life your business is in, whether infancy or those awkward teen years, a clear business plan is absolutely vital.
Business plans serve two purposes: as a way for you to strengthen your business, and as a way to show lenders what you’ll do with their money (and why you’re a good investment). They’re just as useful after you open your business as a way to keep you on track mission-wise and financially.
Putting together a business plan is a chance for you to catch flaws in your business idea before you spend a dime. Discovering an intimidating competitor, high start-up cost or potential employee shortage can all happen while you write a business plan. You can also find exciting new opportunities for profit.
Banks aren’t looking for fancy formatting or flashy buzzwords in your business plan: They’re looking for evidence that you have a clear idea of what you’re doing, how much money you’ll need, and a realistic idea of how much you can earn.
Banks treat business plans like hiring managers treat a resume: They’re looking for evidence that your business is a good candidate for a return on their investment.
Every business plan looks different and they don’t need shiny graphic design, but there are a few components that successful plans share:
When it comes to the overall length of your business plan, you may come across a fair amount of disagreement in your research. Some may say 10-12 pages is enough, and others may say you’re shooting more for around 30. What you really need to aim for is to be thorough. You need to prove that you’ve thought of everything, you understand the market and know your strengths. And at the same time, don’t just drone on and on, just state your case, show examples and get out.
There are lots of other sections that can be added to a business plan, but the seven we just ran through are the most vital. Small business experts, mentors or local resource centers can help you figure out what else to include that may be important to what you’re trying to accomplish.
Plagued by the blank page? Here’s how to turn that big idea into a gorgeous, fully fleshed-out business plan:
There you have it, a complete business plan, ready for whatever your next step may be. Hopefully we were able to help guide you through all the important stuff to touch on. Just remember, your business plan is like a resume to help you get what you want, so state your case, be honest, and everything will go great.