What Should You Include In a Business Plan?

When it comes to starting a new business, it’s always good to have a solid plan in place. In fact, you’ll need a formal business plan if you are looking for investors or want to apply for finance.

Anyone considering parting with their cash to invest in your business will want to know that you’ve planned everything meticulously and done your research. This makes you a much safer bet and more likely to get accepted for the funding you need.

There are quite a few things that people expect to see in a business plan, so we’ll give you a quick rundown of what to include in a business plan here.

The Executive Summary

This is usually a one to four-page summary which covers your overall business plan. It should stand on its own as a separate document, but you can further explain what you mention here in the rest of your business plan.

Business Overview

This will be a description of your business and needs to include details including legal structure, formation history, type of business, location and means of doing business (e.g online or storefront).

Operations Plan

This is a plan of how the business will function and should outline the physical setup and specific day to day tasks and responsibilities of staff members.

Marketing Analysis

People will want to see that you’ve analysed the market as a whole and can provide data where applicable. You need to define your target market (while proving there is a market) and show how you’ll best serve it.

Products or Services

Here, you’ll simply describe the products or services you’re planning to sell. This could involve details of manufacturing processes or suppliers, plus the method of delivering them.

Sales and Marketing Plan

This is where you’ll provide details of pricing and sales. You will need to be ready with explanations, ideally backed by research, as to why your target market will purchase from you specifically. How will you reach new customers?

Competitive Analysis

It’s important to know exactly what the competition is up to throughout your business career, but here you’ll need to prove you’ve done your research. What strengths or weaknesses can you identify in your competitors? How can you gain an edge over them?

Management Team

You will need to provide details on the management structure of your company including names and contact details of any directors or managers.

Financial Plan

Now for the hard part. You will need to provide a financial plan that is realistic and backed by research and hard figures. In this section, you may need to provide startup cost estimations, balance sheets, cash flow analysis and so on.

If looking for startup funds, you need to outline exactly how you will use startup funds in order to ensure the best chance at growth.

It’s also a good idea to identify what your ongoing business expenses will be here, including salaries, marketing, insurance, supplies and office rent. This will ensure that anyone reading will have a good idea of where their money will be spent and how much you will need to stay afloat.

Projections

It’s hard to know how well your business will do, but you should have a good idea based on your research. The last thing to include is your projections including income statements and balance sheets for at least a couple of years.

Your business plan will look slightly different depending on your type of business and the industry you’ll be a part of. However, we hope that this will give you some clear guidelines to follow if you’re unsure of what to include in a business plan.

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