Writing a business plan? You have an idea or a product that everyone says “You should start a business and sell your product”. “You can be your own boss and make money” or “This is great! People really need this”.
Yes, you can write this yourself. After all who knows you and your idea better than you!
Below are the basic steps to writing a good business plan that you can present to others that will give them the basic concept about your business idea, why it is a great idea, why you can do it, how you will sell it, and how you plan to finance it.
Let’s get started!
STEP 1 – The Business Plan Outline
The first thing to do is create an outline for your plan. The outline should cover the main topics or points that will be important to the people that will read your plan. Some basic headings should be;
1. Vision/Mission Statement
2. Business Profile
3. Business Objectives
4. Capital Requirements
5. Management Team
6. Market Analysis
7. Marketing Plan
STEP 2 – Write the Plan
Start writing your plan one heading at a time. Use your own words. It is you that is selling the idea. You will have someone read it later to see how well it reads. Research, Research! Yes I said it! You will have to some research to fully develop your plan. Use the internet to do this research.
Below I have listed the headings and the basic things that will need to be written about under each heading.
Vision / Mission Statement – What is your vision? What is your product or service idea? Keep it simple. You might come back to this later to add more content.
Business Profile – What type of legal business structure do you plan on using? A Sole-proprietorship, an LLC or a corporation. Is it going to be a retail business where people come to you to buy your product or service (i.e. store, restaurant, cleaners, etc) or will you take your product or service to the customer?
Business Objectives – What will be the objective of your business? For example if you are starting a restaurant, what will be the main reason people will come to you.
Capital Requirements– What will it cost to start and run your business for at least the next two years. There will be fixed cost or cost that will pretty much stay the same (i.e. rent, utilities, equipment, insurance, etc). There also will be variable cost that will change as your business changes.
Management Team – Why can you be successful in this particular business? What is your or your key person’s background and experience in this area of business?
Market Analysis– Who else is doing what you are in the area that you want to sell your product or service? Your competition. Who will buy your product? Your potential customers.
o Your competition – A simple internet search will give you loads of information. For example, you want to start a take -out wings restaurant. Use Google or another search engine and search for “take-out wings in 30303(your zip code)”. There should be a number of returns on this search term.
o Your customers – Using Google again just enter the zip code for the area you want to service and you will find a report in the return hits that contains the demographic information for this area.
Marketing Plan – How will you market your business? The internet, local newspapers, flyers, coupons, etc. How will you get the message out? You might attend neighborhood meetings to announce your company.
Conclusion – This is where you summarize your idea again and stress your confidence in your ability to be successful. You should also thank your reader and give them a way to contact you if they have any more questions.
STEP 3 – Review the Plan
Use spell check and other tools to help correct the basic errors in your plan. Remember they will not catch everything. You must read it yourself and have other read it as well. Don’t get all sensitive if they come back with changes and corrections. You would rather have them find them then your potential investor or bank.
STEP 4 – Finalize the Plan
After you have received all the comments and changes start the final draft of your plan.
STEP 5 – Review the Finalized Plan
Refer to Step 3. Need I say more?
STEP 6 – Create the Cover Letter
You will need to create a cover letter to send along with the plan when you have someone look at it for possible investment. Just the basics. Introduce yourself and explain about the plan and why you are presenting it. Remember to thank them for reviewing it and give them a way to contact you if you have any questions.
STEP 7 – Get Ready To Go Into Business!
Now that you have a plan you can really start putting things together to start your business. You might have found by doing your plan that there are some areas that need more work. So do it and get your business going.
Remember, this is your plan! Just work on it a section at a time. Start with the sections that feel you know the most about or have the most information. You will find that some of the other questions that you have will be uncovered as you work through the plan.