Category: Loyalty · 4 min read
What All Goes into a Business Plan?
on August 6, 2019
on August 6, 2019
How good are you at planning when it comes to your business?
If you’re like me, it can depend on the day. But your business is too important to run without a plan in place. A good business plan is the solid foundation of a company, and it provides clear direction to help you run your business. It can also be useful if you ever need to secure funding in the future. Without a business plan, it can be like heading out on a trip without a GPS. You may know where you want to end up, but you don’t know how to get there.
Even if you’re not currently asking for funding or looking for consultation, a business plan is a good resource to have. It not only gives you a clear overview of your business and processes, but it can help identify any areas you need to improve or where you’re exceptionally strong.
If you don’t have one in place yet, that’s okay. It’s not too late to start planning! To help you create your own, I’ve put together the nine main sections and topics you need to cover in your business plan.
A good business plan is the solid foundation of a company, and it provides clear direction to help you run your business.
1. Executive Summary
Think of this as an overall view of your business. Make sure you include your mission statement and your vision for the future. Why does your business exist? What products or services do you offer? Write all of that down here. You should also touch on your location, financial information, and your growth plans if you’re thinking about asking for financing in the future.
2. Company Description
Now let’s get down to the details. This is where you put on your problem-solver hat and explain how your business helps solve your clients’ problems. Maybe it’s answering their financial questions and helping them prepare for retirement. What makes you different from everyone else? How are you successful? It helps to be specific here and write down exactly who you’re serving and who your ideal customers are. If you have a specific brand message that you use frequently, this is the place to put it. It’s also the spot to talk about your strengths and what you’ve accomplished so far.
3. Market Analysis
Trade your problem-solver hat for your analysis hat. It’s time to do some research on your competitors to see what they’re up to. Write down what they’re doing, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and what you can do to differentiate yourself and stand out from the competition. This can take time, but knowing who your competitors are and what they’re up to can help you stand out.
4. Organization and Management
How is your company structured? Who’s at the top and who’s at the bottom? If your structure involves multiple people, an organizational chart may help clarify who’s in charge and who reports to whom. You can even include the bios of your leadership team here.
You should also include your business’s legal status. Are you incorporated (or do you plan to be)? Do you plan on forming a general or limited partnership? Or are you a sole proprietor or LLC? List any that apply or may apply in the future.
5. Service or Product Line
Get sales-y. This is the section where you talk about what you sell. What are your services and what products do you offer your clients? What carriers do you work with? Go into detail and explain your sales process and the lifecycle of a client. How does a prospect become a client? What meetings or touchpoints are the same consistently for each client? Describe all of that here.
6. Marketing and Sales Strategies
Your marketing and sales strategies may change over time, but this is a good way to capture how you’re currently attracting, retaining, and talking to your prospects and clients. Start by detailing all of your marketing efforts, including advertisements, webinars, emails, social media, etc. Then, list out your sales strategies to turn prospects into clients and keep your current clients. It also doesn’t hurt to include anything that you want to be doing, but currently aren’t.
7. Funding Request
Are you asking for funding, or might you in the future? Then this is where you’ll list out how much funding you think you’ll need for the next three to five years. Along with how much, write out what the funding will go towards, and be specific. Do you need to pay certain bills or buy new equipment? Are there services you know you’ll have to pay in the future that you should ask for funding for now? Include those, too. This may seem needy and unnecessary, but it can come in handy if a future need arises.
8. Financial Projections
This section goes hand-in-hand with your funding request. Assemble any income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and budgets you have. Then, start projecting, a quarter at a time. Explain your projections and tie them back to the funding requests you just laid out. You want to showcase that your business is successful, stable, and in a good position for future growth. Include graphics to help illustrate your financial projections and show where you want your business to go in the coming years.
Did you reference any documents in the previous sections? This is where you put them. The documents here help support your claims and statistics. Some examples could include legal documents, marketing materials, income statements, and financial reports.
Take the time to create your business plan, and keep it updated as your business evolves and grows. That way, you’re ready and prepared with a solid roadmap to follow and appropriate documentation to present if you ever need to ask for funding.
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