You can’t succeed without a plan. While it may not ring true with everything in life, it is most certainly true in the world of business. But, writing a business plan is by no means easy, and it’s likely you’ve gotten stuck before you even really got started.
If that’s the case, read on and we’ll break down the steps to start a small business into a few simple and easy-to-follow strategies.
After all, writing an effective business plan happens to be the first step to succeeding in any industry, and with a small business plan in place, you’ll be able to skip over many of the hurdles you’d otherwise face, saving you time, money, and perhaps saving your business all together.
3 Rules to Writing Your Small Business Plan
In order to be a real and effective business plan, your small business plan outline needs to include some key information, which we’ll get into shortly. First, there are some key points you have to follow. In fact, there are exactly three of them, and you should treat these things as steadfast rules that cannot be broken when writing your business plan:
1. Keep it short. Your business plan needs to be concise so you can reference it easily and share it with others. If it’s 100 pages long, or even 30 pages long, no one will read it through.
2. Know your audience. Before you write your plan, you need to do some preliminary research. Who is going to be investing in your business? Write it in a language that your ideal investor can understand.
3. Don’t be intimidated. Just like you, most start-ups and entrepreneurs aren’t business experts--they’re completely new to the industry. You do not need to have a business degree or much experience at all, you just need to be willing to put in the time and effort.
How to Write Your Plan
With those rules out of the way, you now need to focus on what has to be included in your plan. All together, there are six parts to your business plan, which are:
The executive summary. This is an overview of your business and what you plan to do with your business. This comes first, but it’s usually written last. It will be around one to two pages.
Opportunity. This section must answer these questions: What are you selling? How are you solving a problem/need? Who is your target market? Who is your competition?
Execution. This section will explain how you’re going to turn your opportunity into a profitable business. What’s your marketing plan? What will your operations look like? How are you going to measure growth and success?
Team. In this section, you need to sell your team just as much as you sold your idea in the previous sections. You need a strong need. Describe who is with you now and why they’re an asset. Also, explain who you need to hire. Add your legal structure, location, and history if you are currently up-and-running.
Finances. No investor will put money into a business that doesn’t have a specific and accurate financial plan. How much does it cost? How much will you make? Drill down every single financial point you can think of, like cost of starting up, cost of day-to-day operations, etc. Forecast when you will break even and become profitable based on industry figures.
Appendix. This section is optional but is usually needed. This is the spot to add product images and additional info.
Overwhelmed? Don’t be. It’s really pretty simple once you get started. Begin with the Opportunity section and delve into your research from there. If you still need a bit of help, you can find a free template to keep you on-task. When everything is written, be sure to proofread it, read it, and then revise as necessary. Once that’s out of the way, it’s time to start your business./make-business-plan-small-business/Small Business