A good business plan is absolutely necessary before you start your new business. It will aid you in getting needed finances, cooperating, vendors, loyal and knowledgeable employees, and even a mentor, should you desire and need one. It should be read and reread, and improved or updated as time and circumstances dictate.
Always remember that it needs to be easily read and understood, informative, and well outlined. These tips will make it an easier document to both skim and study:
- Bullets and numbers make it easy to pick out specific details and information. You want to provide the information without running too long and wordy.
- Graphs will show the ups and downs in seconds.
- A table of contents can direct readers to the information they are needing quickly.
- Don’t make it too long. Fifteen pages are plenty.
- Write it in a style that your audience or readers can easily understand.
So what information needs to be contained in your business plan? You need to include:
- A mission statement that shows your short term goals and values.
- A realistic budget (though this may have to be updated).
- Include the risks as you foresee them and more than one way that you intend to face and overcome them. They can’t be avoided, so show that you are prepared.
- Outline your marketing plans. These, too, will probably require updating, since markets change all the time, along with this unstable economy. Show your flexibility in dealing with this. Know who your customers will be.
- Explain what makes your business better than the competition. Show your understanding of who they are. Acknowledge them and explain why what you offer will be more desirable.
- Explain the rewards and a realistic time line in which you can expect to see them.
- Finish off with a solid executive summary.
When you are satisfied with your plan, get a second or third opinion to look for weak points. Make sure you haven’t underestimated the competition. Did you include the operations, the management team you’re planning on, and your operations? Did you include spreadsheets and color charts that are easily understood? Did you show cash flow charts that are realistic?
Your executive summary should be at the beginning of the plan and pack such a wallop that it makes your reader want to go through every detail!