Business Plan Lesson 1: What Should Your Business Plan Contain?
This is week one of our Ten Week Business Plan course. If you would like to get reminders about all ten weeks, simply sign up for our eCourse and get a free business plan outline at the same time!
What Is a Business Plan?
A business plan is simply a tool to help a business look ahead, allocate resources, focus on key points, and prepare for opportunities and problems. You use it the same way you study a map to plan a route, determine where to turn, and locate key landmarks. A complete plan includes descriptions of the company, product or service, market, forecasts, management team, and financial analysis.
Executive Summary should contain:
- Company description and current status
- Products/services and market description
- Company objectives
- Financial performance and funding plans
History and Position to Date
Here you describe why you started the business, why you believe it will succeed, and how you will define success. It should include:
- Company background
- Sales and other achievements
- Mission, vision, values, and goals
- Business structure and management team
- Product/service description
Market Research Includes
- Description of the target customers
- Product preferences and purchase influencers
- Market trends
- Description of the competitors
Business Strategy – Includes all four elements of your business strategy: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.
This section is not complete without the milestone schedule, a table that captures all the assignments, commitments, and plans that assign timelines and responsibilities. It should also include your plans for :
- Sales and sales management
- Staffing issues
- Business controls and critical risk
Forecasting and Financials – The plan culminates with the financials. Ultimately, your business plan must boil down to results.
Appendix – What goes into the appendix? Everything else!
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- Buy a 3 ring binder, a set of tab dividers, and some paper.
- Print your outline and insert the questions in the appropriate sections so you are ready to start writing.
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