Creating a business plan lets you spot opportunities and challenges without risk. Backup for market research or competitive analysis, Additional financial documents or projections. Keep in mind that highly detailed or technical descriptions are not necessary and definitely not recommended. Don't try to "hype" your business--focus on helping a busy reader get a great feel for what you plan to do, how you plan to do it, and how you will succeed. Keep in mind this is just a made-up example of how your Summary might read. Acquiring the right location? This mostly applies to technology and scientific ventures, so just skip this if you don’t need to discuss your patents and other intellectual property. Traction could be some initial sales, a successful pilot program, or a significant partnership. Learn from competitor strengths, take advantage of competitor's weaknesses, and apply the same analysis to your own business plan. The P&L pulls data from your sales forecast and your personnel plan and also includes a list of all your other ongoing expenses associated with running your business. You can download a free example of an income statement here. Focus on your target market. And that's why a great business plan is one that helps you succeed. But ultimately the tools you use to develop your numbers are not as important as whether those numbers are as accurate as possible--and whether those numbers help you decide whether to take the next step and put your business plan into action. Who are your customers? It lists the assets in your company, the liabilities, and your (the owner’s) equity. Since a business plan should above all help you start and grow your business, your Executive Summary should first and foremost help you do the following. Our only other competition are the bike shops in Harrisonburg, VA, and our location will give us a competitive advantage over those and other companies who try to serve our market. These could include marketing, R&D, sales, or perhaps purchasing inventory. For a product company, it would the cost of raw materials. You’ll cover your marketing and sales plans, operations, how you’ll measure success, and the key milestones that you expect to achieve. This section will cover your marketing and sales plan, operations, and your milestones and metrics for success. If your company is buying the products it is selling from other vendors, it’s important to include details on where your products are coming from, how they get delivered to you, and ultimately how you deliver the products to the customer—that’s, Most companies use a mixture of distribution channels as part of their plans, so don’t feel that you need to be limited to a single channel. For the most part, service companies can skip this piece and move on. or tell a story about a real user who will benefit from (and be willing to pay for) your solution. If you are producing a consumer product, you may have milestones associated with prototypes, finding manufacturers, and first-order receipt. . Business plans should be short and concise. One way to talk about your ideal customer in your plan is to use your “buyer persona” or “user persona.” A buyer persona is a fictitious representation of your market—they get a name, gender, income level, likes, dislikes, and so on. Be clear and to the point. This is also known as EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. . While this may seem like additional work on top of the market segmentation that you have already done, having a solid buyer persona will be an extremely useful tool to help you identify the marketing and sales tactics you’ll need to use to attract these ideal customers. The Management Team section for our cycling rental business could start something like this: Joe has over 20 years experience in the cycling business. You’ll also use this section of your business plan to demonstrate what sets your solution apart from others, and how you plan to expand your offerings in the future. The perfect remedy for writer's block. Every industry has different distribution channels and the best way to create your distribution plan is to interview others in your industry to figure out what their distribution model is. In addition, we anticipate greater than industry-norm growth rates for cycling in the area due to the increase in popularity of cycling events like the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo. 4. Providing great products and services is wonderful, but customers must actually know those products and services exist. And while it’s the first thing that people will read, I generally advise that you write it last. Show how you will solve that problem. You don’t need to go into excruciating detail here, though—if an investor is interested in more detail they will ask for it, and you can provide that information in your appendix. Investors will want to see that you understand what needs to happen to make your plans a reality and that you are working on a realistic schedule. Early on, your business is more of an idea than a reality, so your business plan can help prospective employees understand your goals--and, more important, their place in helping you achieve those goals. What benefits do you deliver? For a consulting business, it might be the cost of paper and other presentation materials. What products, services, and equipment do I need to run my business? For a plan that you intend to just share internally with your business partners and team members, skip this section and move on. . An appendix to your business plan isn’t a required chapter by any means, but it is a useful place to stick any charts, tables, definitions, legal notes, or other critical information that either felt too long or too out-of-place to include elsewhere in your business plan. After all, your investors will want to get a return on their investment, and the only way they will get this is if the company is sold to someone else. A common mistake novice entrepreneurs make in describing the management team is giving everyone on the team a C-level title (CEO, CMO, COO, and so on).
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