The Perfect Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide
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Writing a business plan might seem like an overwhelming task, but when you break it down step by step, you can tackle each section accordingly. Start by thoroughly researching your industry, competitors, and financials. And the last piece of advice? Dive right in. Good luck! Give us a call. Type below and hit Enter To search. Want the best small business strategies delivered straight to your inbox?
About Latest Posts. Georgia McIntyre is the manager of content marketing at Fundera. She has written extensively about small business finance, specializing in business lending, credit cards, and accounting solutions. Georgia has a B. Market Analysis : Describe your industry and how your company stands out from competitors. Products and Services : Showcase your product or service and the pricing model.
The essential components of a business plan
Marketing and Sales Plan : Highlight how you plan to acquire and retain customers. Financial Plan and Projections : Provide at least three years of financial projections. Appendix : Include additional information, such as your resume. Editorial Note: Fundera exists to help you make better business decisions. This article currently has 55 ratings with an average of 3. Are you ready to expand your business?
- Business Plan Template: A Step-by-Step Guide For Entrepreneurs;
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Planning and preparing for new challenges is one step in the process. Discover how to successfully What is a good sales strategy? There is not one right answer because every business situation is different. Learn how to build a sales Learn about the types of financing available to small businesses including bank loans, borrowing from family and friends, and venture QuickBooks Resource Center.
Join them. Home Articles Guides Tools Videos. The importance of a business plan A few years ago, Palo Alto Software surveyed its users to determine how useful a business plan was to success. Those who created plans were more likely to secure a loan or investment capital. Those who drafted a business plan were two times more likely to grow their business.
Executive summary The executive summary is the elevator pitch for your business. Company description This is your chance to describe your company and what it does. Some of the other questions you can answer in the company description section include: What is the business model? What are your products and revenue sources?
Who are your intended customers? Do you have unique business relationships that offer you an advantage? Where are you located? Who are the founders and owners? What is the legal structure? What is your projected growth? Market analysis This is your chance to look at your competition and the state of the market as a whole. Organization and management Use this section of your business plan to show off your management team superstars. Sales strategies How will you raise money with your business and make profits a reality?
Funding requirements This section will outline how much money your small business will need so that you can make an accurate funding request. Financial projections Finally, the last section of your business plan should include financial projections. Draft your business plan today Even though it can be time-consuming to create a business plan, your efforts will be rewarded.
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Business Plans: A Step-by-Step Guide
Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation. Related Guides. Growing Your Business Are you ready to expand your business? These changes ultimately dictate the overall welfare of their enterprise with respect to productivity, profitability, and more.
Companies ought to implement a systematic process that analyzes the many external elements that interconnect and make up their collective business environment. Whether the systemized process is implemented on a weekly, monthly, or yearly schedule is largely unimportant because the overall goal remains the same. The goal is to establish consistency when overlooking and analyzing the external forces affecting the company and how those forces ultimately determine what business strategies need to be adopted, removed, improved upon, or modified. There is an array of tools that serve to help businesses construct a constant source of highly useful data about shifting industries, consumer preferences, and the overall market at large.
Among the many tools available are the highly recommended apparatuses that provide in-depth analyses into the shifts of the industry, competing forces, the current market, and the projected market. An analysis of the specific industry you are operating in should be performed prior to drafting your business plan. Conducting an industry analysis provides crucial data that can be incorporated into a business plan to describe the strategies and methods your company will be undertaking to successfully perform in the market, and how it ultimately conducts its business to succeed in this industry.
The important data provided by an industry analysis serves to provide an in-depth look into the various opportunities and risks present in the current and future markets. Through an industry analysis, businesses are given the ability to develop optimum strategies that take full advantage of the multitude of opportunities they are presented with, while also minimizing or mitigating identifiable risks. Succinctly describe the history of the industry, the locale s the industry services, the consumer base that it caters to, and the products and services that it offers.
If you desire, you can also include information which details historical factors that have changed the market, in addition to any market trends example: ongoing rises and falls over the decades. While you may start to delve into the concept of trends in step one of the industry analysis, you can be more in-depth about this when writing step two. In this step, you will want to thoroughly review proven trends, growth patterns, and market declines that exist within the industry and related market.
Identify major factors that influence the industry as an overarching entity. Common inclusions for this step include regulatory and deregulatory policies put forth by the government, new laws and legislation, and the competitive practices employed by other businesses in your field. Make a well-founded and thoroughly educated prediction using data gleaned via careful and comprehensive research. Your forecast of the industry and your own company can be detailed in long- and short-term descriptions.
Confidently describe how your business will position itself within the industry and how it will take the fullest advantage of the opportunities afforded by the industry. While most industry analyses take up one or two pages of the entire business plan, if you are writing a more complex business plan then you might need to use more pages. One of the best ways to ensure that everything is thoroughly covered in this section is to use charts and tables with useful yet compressed data. The competitive analysis section of your business plan is of significant importance.
This section details how your business compares to not only competing businesses but also other companies in general. Comparing your business to other businesses involves taking stock of your company in its entirety. Questions you may want to ask yourself during this process can include the following:.
Upon obtaining the answers to the questions above, proceed to the step-by-step guide listed below. In this initial step, you will need to identify and make a list of your competitors.
This list should not include a couple of competing businesses; instead, it should be inclusive of all the directly competing companies you are aware of. Your goal is to create a snapshot of all your competitors so that you can cultivate strategies that uniquely differentiate your company.
This will result in a superior position in the market. Regardless of the format, though, the list should be inclusive of the following for each competing company: name, geographical location, products and services offered, their respective sales volume, market share information, pricing schematics, marketing strategies, and other important details.
In paragraph form or spreadsheet format, list the weaknesses, strengths, advantages, and disadvantages of the all the companies on your list. In this step, you will analyze the strengths and weaknesses present within your own company. Be frank about the present state of your company and the various aspects that can be improved upon.
Next, you will want to focus on how your company will not only minimize the weaknesses within its infrastructure but how it will overcome any disparities to gain a superior position within the market. Also, detail how your company can use its strengths to its advantage, using them to boost its overall prowess, profits, and productivity. The information detailed here will assist you in making intelligent marketing decisions and implementing business strategies.
Business Plan - Step-by-Step Planning Templates
Step five requires you to provide a detailed description of your business. You will want to include information such as how the framework of your company and its owners, management, employees, location, structure, products, services, and various resources will sit within the current and future market. An effective competitive analysis should be succinct yet detailed.
You need not exceed the five basic steps comprising the competitive analyses. The importance of writing a competitive analysis cannot be emphasized enough. While your general business plan states how your business compares to others within the same industry, it is nearly impossible to make an accurate prediction of how your company, its products, and its services will fare in the marketplace in relation to the experience of your competitors.
Constructing a careful analysis drawn from your research enables you to inject the relevant data and analyses to support the performance assumptions listed at the beginning of your business plan.
7 Steps to a Perfectly Written Business Plan
As a reminder, the collective of competitor-related data and the research you delve into should all be procured well before starting your business plan. Your market analysis should offer a comprehensive overview of the marketplace as it is in the present day, along with the positions your competitors hold within the market. Provide a description of the current market and industry you wish to enter. This section should include any pertinent information about potential shifts in consumer needs and demands, educated opinions about projected growth, the anticipation of trends or economic cycles, and overall product and service performance in the present and future.
Describe your customers by detailing the product or service that satisfies their needs. In this section, you will need to describe how big the market is. Using your market research and data analyses, you will be able to detail if the market is growing or shrinking, and as a result, you can also pinpoint when and how your company will enter the market.
Also, include within this section any research that supports your predictions for future growth and overall success. This step entails describing, in detail, the specific and various pricing structures practiced by your company, and in addition, those of your competitors. This concluding step involves a brief summation of the highlights and most salient points found within the competitive, industry, and marketing analyses to strategize market superiority and positionality.
This section will require you to use hard facts and verifiable numbers. Some of the best and most reliable sources for this kind of information include:. This is the section that will help you outline how you are going to build a brand that not only attracts customers but retains them and is competitive enough to stay afloat and prosper. There are several questions you need to consider when crafting your marketing plan.
These include:. A well-crafted marketing plan gives you complete control over your business. It allows you to make the right decision when it comes to critical components of running the business such as:. The most crucial aspect to bear in mind is that you will have to review and update this part of your plan more regularly than almost every other section. That is primarily because the market environment is very dynamic, meaning customer needs and desires are constantly changing in accordance with trends and other forms of aggressive marketing.
Discuss in detail the strategies you are putting in place to facilitate the communication processes between your company and its customer base. Akin to the engine that runs a machine, your operating plan runs the machinations of your business. Not having an operations plan in place often results in dire consequences with nothing of importance being accomplished, including meeting benchmarks, short-term goals, and long-term goals.
The absence of an operations plan renders a business and its activity stagnant. The overall importance of the operations plan translates into increased time and effort needed to complete this section of the business plan. While the operations plan section of a business plan is sizably larger than the other sections, an easy and effective method of completing it is to combine it with the Team and Management section listed below.
You can then rename it as the Operations and Management Plan, subsequently writing the details for the section by creating a chart that shows the title of employees and managers and their respective duties, responsibilities, and supervisorial capacities. This section discusses the various people who comprise the management team and ownership of the company. Readers from within and outside the organization should be able to clearly, and easily, identify the people who are in charge of the business and how the business hierarchy is constructed.
While this section does not need to be lengthy or overly complex, the scale of the writing remains dependent on the sheer size of the company and the number of owners, partners, and upper management personnel that exists. As such, the team and management section of a business plan written by a sole proprietorship will be significantly shorter than the same section written by a sizeable company with key members, i. Regardless of length, the team and management section of your business plan should always clearly list the owners and managers.
This serves to remove any confusion about the figures in charge of the organization, which is a benefit for employees, customers, and people new to the enterprise. Additional information pertaining to the company should include the points listed below. Dependent on company-related specifics, the depth and breadth of each bullet point may vary in terms of overall length.