How to Write a Business Plan
What is a Business Plan?
Business plans are essentially resumes for companies. They provide a description of what your business involves, how it hopes to operate, what level its earnings are expected to reach, and how soon those milestones will be met. Anyone who wants to start a business must write a business plan, primarily because no financial institution will loan you money without first seeing your blueprint for success. There are countless business plan templates available online or at your local bookstore, and sample business plans are usually sufficient to provide all the necessary information for more than 90 percent of prospective business owners. Here is a business plan example to get you started.
Sample Business Plan
The term “template” can mean a standardized document that contains a basic layout in which details are added to customize it for a specific use. A template business plan is an outline where you add information about your company to create a unique presentation. Every business plan should contain the following sub-headings:
- Executive summary – The opening section should include introductory information about your company, including the date it started, the names and titles of the owners, an accounting of the employees, and a description of the premises. It should also contain a summary of the rest of the document, as oftentimes the executive summary is the only section anyone reads in great detail. You will want to briefly describe the product or service your company provides, a description of your marketing strategy, your expected sales numbers, startup cash on hand, financial requirements going forward, and any selling success to date.
- Company overview – Beyond the summary noted above, each subsequent segment should include as much information as possible. Here you will include detailed biographies on each of the principal owners, especially as they relate to the field in which your company will operate. Briefly explain the industry and discuss both its current financial state and future expectations. Describe any new products or developments that will positively or negatively affect your company’s position in this industry, and be sure to mention any innovations that you bring to the table. Outline your core client base, provide the names of specific customers you have targeted, and describe exactly how you plan to win them over.
- Market analysis – This section expands on some of the material contained in the company overview, notably estimating the size of the current market you plan to enter, how and when it is expected to grow, which trends are most likely to affect your operation, who your primary competitors are, where you will price your goods or services (and how that compares to the rest of the industry), and what your company has done so far to break into the market. This is a good place to list your suppliers or vendors and also include testimonials from them, if possible.
- Sales strategy – Lay out everything you plan to do in both marketing and sales, including a description of your ad materials, what kind of marketing vehicles you will use (direct mail, e-mail, Web site, event sponsorship, etc.), and how you expect to sell and deliver your product or service to end users. Describe the makeup of your sales staff and include a projection of expected sales through the first eight to twelve business quarters.
- Operations plan – Describe your place of business and provide an example of what everyone is expected to do on a day-to-day basis. List the equipment you have and need, making sure to include prices and sources. Outline your method of keeping track of inventory, and detail the processes you will employ to track sales, purchases, and customer satisfaction.
- Management plan – List the number of employees you will need and how much it will cost the company to maintain that level of service. Explain your hiring methods as well as what skills your employees require to fulfill their job descriptions. List the benefits you offer, summarize the cost of doing so, and include a copy of employee procedures and policies.
- Financial information – Aside from the executive summary, this is the most important section of your business plan. Attach profit-and-loss statements and an analysis of the money you need to break even and then move into profitability. Provide a list of sources and uses of funds, and include a detailed cash flow projection. Explain exactly where the money will go (real estate, capital equipment, inventory, and personnel), and what the expected exit strategy will be for anyone investing in your business.
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