Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be such a daunting task if you know what to include and what not to include in it. Some businesses don’t need a business plan. However, writing one out can be a good way to figure out if you really want to go through with the business. A business plan should include three major sections:
- The BUSINESS CONCEPT section
- The MARKTING PLAN section
- The FINANCIAL section
Business concept: You want to answer the easy questions like, “What is your business?”, “What industry is it in?” and “What is your product?”. You want to describe in detail the product or service that you’ll be selling and explain how and why it’s going to be a success.
Marketing Plan: Here, you want to clearly define your target audience and how you will effectively market to them. Make sure you have a well-defined plan for ways to market to your target audience. Describe some of the media that you will use to market to your target audience. You also want to have a subsection about your competition. Identify the main players in the industry and how you will set yourself apart from others. This is a very important section. Investors will look at the marketing section as much as they will the financial section. They want to see that you have a clear vision about how your business will be different than the others out there.
Financials: This section can be frustrating, but realize that it’s a bunch of B.S. numbers. All you are doing is giving PROJECTIONS. No one expects the numbers to be accurate. You want to make sure that you give a worst case scenario and a best case scenario. Also, you want to make sure that you have a break-even analysis. How much cavier do you have to sell to break even? You can put together a mock income statement and a mock balance sheet, but remember that it’s worth as much as the paper that you wipe your ass with.
Here are the 7 headlines that you should have at the bare minimum. I took these from an article on entrepreneur.com.
- Executive summary
- Business description
- Market strategies
- Competitive analysis
- Design and development plan
- Operations and management plan
- Financial factors
The first two sections are the “business concept” the next three are the marketing section, the operations and management plan is part of the business concept section and then there’s the financial section.
The operations and management section may only be you or you and a partner for now. But, make sure that you still clearly define each different position in the company even if these positions are split among two people. This is important, because hopefull you won’t be performing all of these functions forever.
Remember: Your business plan isn’t worth crap if you don’t show your enthusiasm for the business. If you are having trouble showing enthusiasm for it, then you may want to reconsider starting this type of business. Investors want to see that you are dedicated and sold out for your idea. If they see that coupled with a relatively coherent plan, then you’ll get the investment capital that you need.