8 easy steps for writing a business plan

Think that writing a business plan is a tedious chore? That it has to be a hundred pages long? Well you’re wrong! You don’t have to start from zero to create plan that’s up to snuff. Most financial institutions offer a model that you can personalize to suit your situation. Just follow the instructions and you’ll be surprised how quickly your plan will progress. Although every business plan is unique, they all share certain common elements. Here is an overview of the main information you need to include.

 

  1. Sum up your project

 The first section of a good business plan should be written at the very end of the process. It’s the most important part of your plan—it’s what interested lenders will read first. Start things off with a presentation of the founders and a description of the company’s mission. Then present the salient points of each of the subsequent sections in order to explain the company’s basic activities. Use a tone that will make the reader want to keep reading to the very end.

  1. Summarize your activities

Where is your company headed? What have you achieved since its launch? What do you see as its next steps? Follow the answers to these questions with the details of your growth strategy. Often a numbered list of goals paired with a deadline is enough to enable the reader to understand the situation at a glance. Two pages of well-constructed explanation is all you need!

  1. Describe your marketing strategy 

A rigorous market study is the cornerstone of an effective marketing strategy. The size of your target market, industry trends and distribution issues are subjects that need to be covered. Your product will obviously occupy a central place in this section. Describe it by highlighting its characteristics. What is your plan for promoting your product effectively? Be prepared to demonstrate, using statistical information, how your product responds to the needs of your target market and that your positioning in terms of price is appropriate. The amount you plan to devote to this budgetary item should also be revealed in this section.

  1. Create an operational plan 

Your action plan shouldn’t only exist in your head. It should be committed to paper so that potential investors can evaluate your future steps. First provide the details of your company’s daily reality (opening hours, delivery agreements with providers, etc.). Another subject to cover should be your facilities: the square footage of your planned office space and any remodelling that needs to be done should be detailed. You should also justify your reasons for choosing a particular location. 

  1. Draw up a competitive analysis 

While your business’s prospects may look positive, there’s nothing to say that you will not have to cope with sustainability issues in the future. A competitive analysis enables you to take stock of the competition in order to benefit from the information. To learn how to protect your economic castle, read “4 Steps for a Successful Competitive Analysis.”

  1. Make room for human resources

Potential investors want to determine whether your team has the necessary skills and experience to guarantee your project’s success. To demonstrate this, provide an organization chart, a description of the responsibilities for key personnel and information on the training program to be provided to employees. If there are challenges to overcome regarding recruitment, mention them. Then present the solutions you plan to put in place to resolve these challenges.

  1. Explain your e-commerce strategy 

Information technology is a must for reducing your operational costs and increasing profitability. Provide the details for your upcoming website launch or the deployment of your e-commerce platform. Finally, mention the management information systems you will be using to manage inventory, keep accounting records and ensure optimal customer service.

  1. Share your financial forecast 

The financial appendix will help you in your search for business partners and investors. A well-orchestrated financial plan should present the cost of your project and demonstrate its feasibility. It’s important to provide a financial forecast for your company that extends into the next three to five years. Pay special attention to forecasted revenue and estimated costs during your first year of operation.

There are other aspects that are likely to be of interest to your backers: the amount of financing you hope to obtain, the guarantee you can offer lenders and desired methods of repaying the loan are a few examples. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from an accountant, or any other expert, if this section seems particularly difficult to put together.