Business plans aren’t only used when trying to secure funding for your company. Think of your business plan as a road map to success. It helps you remain focused on what you’re trying to achieve and details exactly how you plan to achieve your business goals. Learn how to write a business plan that helps you become laser-focused on the tasks needed to grow your business over the next one to five years.
Decide If You Need an Executive Summary
If you’re writing a business plan to help to secure funding for your business, you should include an executive summary page. Typically, this goes right behind the title page, and it tells the reader about your company, how much financing you need, the benefits to the investor, and how you plan to use the funds you get. Because it’s written specifically for the bank or investor reading your business plan, you don’t need an executive summary if you’re writing it to keep you on track.
Do Your Research
You don’t need to write an extremely detailed 50-page business plan, but you should make sure you’ve researched the information you include. Before you start writing, consider completing some quick online research to answer these questions:
- Who is your ideal customer?
- Why does your ideal customer need your product and/or service?
- How large is your market?
- Are there any trends affecting your target market?
- Who are your biggest competitors?
- What are your competitors biggest strengths and weaknesses?
- How do you plan to gain an advantage over your competitors?
Start with the Basics
When you start writing, you should lay out all of the basics first. This makes it easier for you to write out the more actionable parts of your plan.
This part of your business plan should include a description of your company, the products and/or services you currently offer, any products and/or services you want to offer in the future, and your overall non-monetary goals for the next year, three years, and five years. You should also include the information about your industry, customers, and competitors that you gathered during your research.
Include a Financial Plan
Your financial plan simply covers the current financial status of your business and how it might change over the next one, three, and five years. To make this part simple, consider using cloud-based accounting software, such as QuickBooks Online, to generate an up-to-date balance sheet, profit and loss statement, and a cash flow statement for your business. Then, use the information displayed to create realistic financial goals for your business the monetary goals you set should be reachable within the specified amount of time allotted.
Create an Actionable Plan to Follow
Lastly, your business plan should detail how you plan to achieve your goals. You should outline a plan of operations that includes whether you want to hire employees or outsource specific tasks. You should also consider including the milestones your business needs to reach over the next one and three years to achieve your five-year goals.
You should also consider including a detailed marketing plan for your business that includes:
- What methods you want to use to reach your customers specific social media platforms, email marketing, content marketing, direct response marketing, etc.
- Your plans for building your company brand both visually and aesthetically
- Any promotions or special offers you plan to use to help you reach your sales goals
Remember, your business plan outlines what you want your business to achieve over the next five years, so try to make it as detailed as possible. The more clarity you have when it comes to your business’s current state and where you want it to go, the easier it is to reach your goals.