You have the business idea but you don’t know where to go next? You are going to need a business plan.
Before you write a business plan go through this guide which will help you put together your various business plan elements into a solid and workable plan, there are 10 essential sections that must appear in the final business plan.
Content in this guide
Almost any business plan will cover these broad elements.
- Executive summary
- General company description
- The opportunity, industry and market
- Business model
- Management team
- Marketing plan
- Operational plan
- Financial plan
- Useful links
Provide a summary of your entire business plan, giving the reader a clear idea of what you propose. It should cover who, what, where, when, why, how and how, providing information about:
- The company
- The management team
- Your business objectives
- Financing required.
General company description
Give a brief overview of the company itself. You should include:
- Company name, type of legal entity, ownership, assets
- Brief history and current status of the business
- Mission statement
- Company objectives
- An overview of the industry in which you will operate
- Company strengths and competencies.
The opportunity, industry and market
Start out by describing the opportunity that exists in the market. Explain what has caused it, how you identified it and how it can be filled. Include a description of the products and/or services you will be offering. You can also include a SWOT analysis.
Next, describe the industry in which you will operate and forces within it. Consider things like barriers to entry, suppliers, customers and competitors. Also talk about how you’ll address these issues.
Finally, give insight into the market in which you will operate, looking at size, growth, trends and current market share allocation. Describe the potential customers for your product or service.
Download: Free SWOT Analysis Template
In this section you must describe how you will take your business to market. You discuss elements such as:
- The market you are targeting
- How will the business succeed in this market?
- What is unique about the business?
- What is the value for the customers?
Related: How to Create a Marketing Strategy
This is where you describe the profit-making engine of the business. Where will your revenue come from? You should include:
- The major costs involved in generating the revenue
- The profitability of the business
- The investment required to get the business up and running
- The critical success factors and assumptions for making a profit.
Here you introduce the management team that will help you implement your business idea. Describe the people behind the business and their qualifications and experience.
- List the founders
- Who will manage the business on a day-to-day basis?
- Include an organogram if you have more than 10 employees.
This defines all of the components of the marketing strategy and should be based on market research. It should include information about:
- The product (or service) and why it is valuable to customers
- A description of the target market
- The positioning of the product or service
- The pricing strategy
- Sales and distribution channels
- The marketing strategy including public relations, promotions, advertising and other activities.
Outline how you will run your business and deliver value to your customers. Describe the processes used to deliver your products and services to the marketplace and include things like manufacturing, transportation, logistics, customer and technical service.
You need to show that your business idea is going to make money. The financial plan is a reasonable estimate of your company’s financial future. Include the following:
- A description of what it will cost to launch the business and where you expect to get this money
- 12-month profit and loss projection
- Three-year profit and loss projection
- A 12-month cash-flow projection
- Three-year cash-flow projection
- A projected balance sheet at start-up and at the end of years one to three
- A break-even calculation.
Related: 6 Steps Of Financial Planning
This is where you collect all of the documentation that supports your business plan and can include:
- Brochures and advertising material
- Industry studies
- Blueprints and plans
- Maps and photos of location
- Published articles
- Lists of equipment owned or to be purchased
- Copies of leases and contracts
- Letters of support from future customers
- Market research studies
- List of assets available as collateral for a loan
- Detailed financial calculations and projections