A business plan is a document that describes a business and its perspectives for the future. It is an essential document for companies that just started operating and want to attract investors for further growth. Prospective investors use a business plan to get a picture of a new company and evaluate its perceptiveness for bringing profit.
Along with investors, a business plan is meant to attract talented employees, establish a strong partnership with suppliers, and help in all other situations that would require a brief company description.
Business planning is very useful for new companies, but practically every business would benefit from having one. If a company has been running for some time, revisions and periodic updates of a plan will help it see whether it has reached its initial goals, or if they have been changed.
There are several categories of businesses that need a business plan template.
Startups are the first category of businesses that will benefit from making a business plan. It is a must-do when identifying what a company’s goals are and how it plans to achieve them plus how much money will its development require.
Essentially, a startup business plan would require:
1. A global picture of objectives and methods of their achievement. This section should touch on the founders and their strategies for the growth of the small business, what milestones they set, and why the idea is worth getting investment from financial institutions, founders’ friends, etc.
2. Financial plan of the company. This part of a business plan should tell about how much money a company needs for reaching its objectives, including operating expenses, the expected profit from the operation, etc.
Not only new businesses need business planning; existing companies, including those that already have an established name, might benefit from it as well. One of the common scenarios, when an established business might want to have a new business plan, is when deciding to move in a new direction.
In such a case, a business plan should cover:
1. Methods and strategies of optimizing a company’s growth, bringing necessary amendments to current plans of actions due to changes in the market, determining new horizons for the business, identifying the ways to scale the company and maximize profits, etc.
2. New goals for the company in a short and long-term perspective, measures of establishing and reestablishing metrics to track those goals.
It cannot be said that freelancers necessarily need a business plan, but having one in place will help them in case they want to become experts in a certain field and are about to spend much time and energy on it. If you are a freelancer, writing a business plan might help you get the maximum of your potential in the market.
There is no standardized method on how to assess a company‘s success in a business plan. Among the most common assessment techniques are:
To assess a small business in this aspect, the following questions should be answered in a business plan:
The information that you need to evaluate the objectives is:
For such an analysis, the following questions will help collect the needed information for your business plan:
The following questions need to be answered in business plan templates:
Once again, you won’t find a standardized business plan template on the net, but there are several components that are recommended to include in every business plan template.
1. Title page
First, you should write your name and title at the company. Include your contact information (phone number, email) as well. After that, specify the name of your company.
2. Executive summary
This part of your business plan is supposed to catch the attention of a reader and give them an understanding of the essence of your company. The section should be informative and laconic containing the most important information about your company.
The executive summary should start with the mission statement – the core idea of your business and its goals. Try to include the essential details in several sentences. Technically, it should be the information you want prospective investors to remember first about your company.
Next, the executive summary should give a brief overview of the overall business plan to make a reader know what they will be reading about further. The section should be compelling enough to make readers proceed with reading.
Then, the executive summary should address the main points of your business plan. These are the solutions your business offers for customers, target audiences, competitors, expected profits and expenses, milestones, metrics, etc.
Another recommendation on how to write an executive summary is to make it look like a separate document that describes your business and lets a reader get all the information about it by just reading this section of the document. This is why it is recommended to write this part last. It will let you highlight the most important information in your business plan.
Your product or service
This section should contain more details about the unique solution you offer to your target audience. It has to outline what competitive advantages you have in the market and how it will let you stand out from similar companies.
Your target audience
It is essential to define in business plans who you will be offering your products/services to. This section cannot be underestimated as determining your target market will let you create appropriate sales and marketing strategies.
Your marketing plan
This section should list the methods of marketing your solution to a potentially interested audience. It might include handout advertisements, online campaigns in social media, etc.
Your goals and metrics
In this section of your business plan, it is necessary to outline the goals of your business from both short and long-term perspectives. The section should state when these goals are expected to be met and who will take responsibility for reaching them. It should also provide the system of measurement of success, for example, number of daily visitors, number of generated leads, call-to-action button clicks, etc.
Your management team
The process of achieving the company’s goals will greatly depend on the management team. These people are usually in control of reaching the company’s targets step-by-step, and they should be picked thoroughly. The section should provide their names, experience in the field, and their views on the successful operation of your company and ways of its achievement.
Business plans play a crucial role when it comes to presenting a new company’s product or service and its potential for bringing profit. That is why writing a business plan never takes just minutes; it should present a starting small business as impressively as possible.
Our online business planning tool will help you get a business plan that is customized for your company’s needs. Just take your time to give responses to some questions regarding your business (company description, financial plan, management team, goals and methods of their reaching, etc.) and get the printable business plan that will let you get started in a highly competitive business world.
A business plan template is supposed to make a good “first impression” on its readers, especially when it comes to investors. Hence, it should be filled thoughtfully and then proofread.
Start your business plan with the name, principal office, and contact information of your business (phone number, email, and website).
Then, mention your business entity type (corporation, limited liability company, etc.) and whether your business is currently in operation.
The next step to filling out a business plan template is writing a mission statement. It should include information about the founders, and their qualifications and experience might be described here as well.
In the same section, you should mention whether there is a management team in your company, If yes, their short biography, experience, and qualifications should be added too.
In addition, you should specify whether your company has employees.
Now, it’s time to mention the industry you seek to reach success in.
In the next section, mention the product or service your company offers or will be offering. It should include the name of the product or service, its description, and a detailed explanation if necessary. You should also specify here whether the product that you are offering was developed exclusively by your company.
The next piece of information to include in your business plan template is whether your company is seeking funding. If you want to use a business loan, enter the loan amount and loan payment period in either months or years.
One of the most important steps is to elaborate on how the business will use financing. You should thoroughly describe the main ways of using funding, specifying whether the money will be used for marketing, staffing, etc.
Another piece of information needed in business plans is an estimation of the return on investment loan and the moment when the company will reach the break-even point. Also specify what collaterals you can put against a loan.
The following section should provide a response to the question of what the target market for your business is. It is recommended to not only mention the category of people who might become customers, but also any statistical data available. It might concern market size, growth trends, etc. Along with that, you should specify the number of prospective customers in the target market, their annual spending rates, and what factors usually influence the decisions of your target audience.
A marketing plan is what should be outlined further in your business plan template. It should tell what channels for advertising your business plans to benefit from. It might be online advertisements or physical leaflets and billboard ads.
You might also want to touch on the distribution strategy in your business plan. Then, you should briefly describe how you plan to distribute your products.
Pricing strategy is what also matters in a business plan. Tell how the price of your product/service will be formed.
If you want to make a very detailed business plan, you can also include a SWOT analysis. This is the evaluation of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It will let prospective investors see that you know your business well and thoughtfully estimated all the risks and opportunities for success.
Another way to show that you know the industry well is to include a competitors analysis in your plan.
The second to the last section is called financial projections. It should provide financial proofs that your business has all the chances to become a financial success in the future. Take this section very seriously and make sure to provide forecasted profit statements, balance reports, cash flow statements, and expenses for the next 5 years. If you want to be very specific, you can supplement this section with quarter-to-quarter and month-to-month financial projections for the first year of operation. Another important thing here is to match your projections to your funding requests.
If you plan to attach a separate financial statement of your future operating expenses, profits, etc., mention it in your business plan.
If your company is not new to the market, this section should be used to include profit statements, balance reports, and cash flow statements for the last 3-5 years.
The last part of your business plan should be an appendix that will supply the plan with supporting documentation. Among such documents usually are resumes, credit histories, permits and licenses if any, etc.
A business plan can make or break the impression of your business idea in the eyes of prospective investors. This is why it is important to take business plans seriously and make sure you presented inflation about your company in the most compelling way. If you don’t want to search among numerous websites in an attempt to find good business plan templates and need to get started ASAP, make use of our sample business plans in PDF, DOC, or ODT.