Every successful business starts with a good business plan. Whether your dream is to open a small dessert shop or a big bakery, the plan you put together needs to detail why you think your endeavor will work, and what makes it stand out from its competitors.
Your business plan is going to be presented to potential investors, partners or lenders and will help you find the necessary funding to pursue your venture. It needs to be clear, concise and accurately outline your roadmap to success.
If you have an idea in mind but are overwhelmed at the prospect of where to start, take a look at the seven key components of a successful business plan below.
1. Summary Of Your Business
The business summary, often also referred to as the executive summary, should be at the very top of your plan.
This summary should include the expectations you have for your business, including what you hope it will accomplish. It’s intended to provide insight into what the rest of the business plan will delve into.
A strong executive summary is one that’s compelling—it should explain what your overall mission is and mention the products and services you plan to provide. You could take this opportunity to detail your own experience in the industry and highlight past successes.
You should then briefly describe your company. Here, you will provide key information about the business, including its goals and target market.
2. Analyses Of Market And Competition
The next important component of your business plan is your analysis of your intended market and competition.
In terms of the market, you need to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the industry and the specific market you’re hoping to enter. Make sure you have plenty of data and statistics to back your business up, including the current market status, future projections for the marketplace, and how your business will fit into that framework. It’s also a good idea to incorporate details about who your consumers will be, as well as extra information, such as what their levels of income are.
When it comes to analyzing your potential competition, your business plan should show a comparison between both direct and indirect competitors. Here, showcase their strengths and weaknesses and how you think your company is likely to stack up against them.
It’s also useful to add in any potential issues that could prevent you from breaking into the market, including factors like high initial costs.
3. Business And Organizational Structure
Following the market analysis, you need to outline the organizational structure of your business. This should include a synopsis of all staff and stakeholders, and their skills and job responsibilities.
This might be easier to present in the form of a diagram. You should then indicate whether you plan to operate your business as a partnership or sole proprietorship. If you plan on having a Board of Directors, you will need to name each member.
Staffing needs can be outlined here too, as well as how these may change as you grow.
4. Products And Services
This is your opportunity to go into deeper detail about the products and services you will provide. You can add any extra information here, so that whoever is reading your plan will have a clear idea of what you will create and sell.
Additionally, you need to highlight the lifespan of your product and how it will fill an existing gap in the market. You can use market research to illustrate your point, and to show how you’ll be filling a niche.
Another good point to add in here is your suppliers. You should mention how much it will cost to produce a product or provide a service and how you will allocate your profit ratio.
5. Marketing And Sales Strategy
In this section, you’ll need to describe how you intend to let people know about your business and what it offers.
As you work through your initial marketing strategy, you need to pinpoint the steps you plan to take to market your company. Once you have a clear idea of the steps, you can draw up a marketing budget that can be included in your business plan.
Your sales strategy then needs to detail how you intend to sell your product. Try to be as specific as possible by including details such as how many sales representatives you initially plan to hire, where you plan on finding them, and how you plan to sign them on to work for you. It’s also a great idea to include provisional sales targets.
Asking for funding is never easy, so you need to devote this section entirely to detailing how much money you need and how you plan to use it.
In this part of your business plan, you need to mention if you will require further capital in the future. Investors need to know if you’ll require additional capital to fund growth, or to complete a project.
7. Financial Projections
Your financial projections should make up the seventh and final component of your business plan. You will need to discuss the goals and expectations that you have set, based on the market research you completed.
You should also include a report that shows what your anticipated revenue for the first year of business is, as well as any projected earnings in your second to fifth years of business.
A clear ROI for investors can be outlined here too, but do not overestimate or inflate figures. Erring on the side of caution is always advised.
An Added Extra- The Appendix
An appendix is not necessary in your business plan template, but it’s useful if you want to add any extra information you feel is of value.
This could include any data or research that you completed, as well as more about yourself, your partners or your overall vision for your company.
Built To Last
Remember that with a solid business plan you can build a strong, long-lasting business.
Be sure to put in plenty of research and provide as much information as possible—rather too much than too little—so that any potential funders or investors will have confidence in your ability to run a company.