Think of business planning as a process, instead of a document Think about business planning as something you do often , rather than a document you create once and never look at again. If you take the time to write a plan that really fits your own company, it will be a better, more useful tool to grow your business. It should also make it easier to share your vision and strategy so everyone on your team is on the same page. Adjust your plan regularly to use it as a business management tool Keep in mind that businesses that use their plan as a management tool to help run their business grow 30 percent faster than those businesses that don't.
For that to be true for your company, you'll think of part of your business planning process as tracking your actual results against your financial forecast on a regular basis. If things are going well, your plan will help you think about how you can re-invest in your business.
If you find that you're not meeting goals, you might need to adjust your budgets or your sales forecast. Either way, tracking your progress compared to your plan can help you adjust quickly when you identify challenges and opportunities—it's one of the most powerful things you can do to grow your business. Do include visually interesting graphics and images.
Do send the pitch deck in a PDF format to prospective investors in advance of a meeting. Do plan to have a demo of your product as part of the in-person presentation. Do tell a compelling, memorable, and interesting story that shows your passion for the business. Do show that you have more than just an idea, and that you have gotten early traction on developing the product, getting customers, or signing up partners.
Do have a sound bite for investors to remember you by. Do use a consistent font size, color, and header title style throughout the slides. Your in-person presentation will give you an opportunity to add and highlight key information.
Having a prototype of your product makes it easier to sell your vision to investors. It also gives you some momentum and traction and helps you recruit partners and employees. Undoubtedly, version 1 of your product will not be as good as version 2 or version 3, but you need to start somewhere. These projections should cover the first three to five years of your startup.
Make sure they are reasonable. In fact, your company may not be even profitable for the first couple of years. Another example of a goal could be launching an ecommerce store in addition to your brick-and-mortar locations.
Keep everything within reason. Clearly define the power structure Your business plan should also cover the organizational structure of your startup. If you put too many layers of managers, directors, and supervisors between the top of the chart and the bottom of the chart, things can get confusing. This is an opportunity for you to outline how your company will operate in terms of board members and investors.
Who has the final say in decisions? Products or Services: To describe your products or services and how they match your findings of your strategies and goals 7. Marketing and Sales: To market your products or services with the best positioning and to forecast your sales based on the findings of categories four, five, and six, in that order 8.
Management and Organization: To present the management and personnel who will run the show. This section can be separated into two sections for more complex companies. Operations: To explain how the business is run Financial Pro Formas: To forecast successful financial performance for all activities Financial Requirement: To present the type and amount of financing needed, based on the previous sections, to accomplish the whole plan Exhibits: By definition, to close the plan and separate any supporting materials that would otherwise interrupt the flow of the story A professionally written startup business plan has all 12 of these basic sections presented in the order of the outline.
Most of the segments listed will also be reflected in the same order of presentation, although there may be slight variances depending on your type of business. When your business plan is written to obtain financing, the financial requirement section may be tailored either as a loan request or as an investment offering proposal, and then titled accordingly.
A Winning First Impression The saying, "There's no second chance to make a good first impression," is highly appropriate when it comes to the opening sections of your business plan and its overall appearance.
With current desktop publishing, business plans are looking more professional--prospects are competing for neatness and an impressive presentation that sets them apart. As to format, the norm is to bind your business plan in booklet form with high-quality materials. Better ones have quality report covers in dark or rich colors and are labeled on the front. The title page serves better than a label if laminated or positioned behind a windowed cover or behind a full clear cover.
Most types of binding are available at copy centers: Ibico and GBC presentation bindings, Wire Bind, and Velobinder are a few of the better ones. Some businesses go the extra step to have printed covers or printed binding strips.
Make sure you didn't forget anything. It also gives you some momentum and traction and helps you recruit partners and employees. Instead of custom tabs, some plans are assembled with printed tab indices with miniature plastic covers, but if you have access to preprinted laminated tabs, they are preferable. Come out fast.
Think of business planning as a process, instead of a document Think about business planning as something you do often , rather than a document you create once and never look at again. Even then, they should be presented in protective sheets or converted to color copies and labeled or captioned in font styles consistent with the rest of the business plan.
Instead of custom tabs, some plans are assembled with printed tab indices with miniature plastic covers, but if you have access to preprinted laminated tabs, they are preferable.
Here's how to get the most out of a sample plan: Choose a sample plan from a similar type of company You don't need to find a sample business plan that's an exact fit for your business. In fact, if you are going to use extensive colored charts and graphs, choose a theme of three or four rich colors and use them consistently throughout the work. Use a sample as a guide Every startup and small business is unique, so you'll want to avoid copying a sample plan word for word. This description should include: A description of your "ideal" customer in terms of this person or company's characteristics, attitudes, and buying behaviors. Begin with a General Description of Your Business Write a general description of your business, which includes: Type of Business Describe what type of business this is retail, manufacturing and what the business produces or sells.
Place your emphasis in the proper perspective and accent the features that are most important for your business. When these are justified to the right or left margin, they are referred to as sideheads. This is an opportunity for you to outline how your company will operate in terms of board members and investors. Nobody has time to read them. Use this business plan template to look at all the areas of your business. Here's how to get the most out of a sample plan: Choose a sample plan from a similar type of company You don't need to find a sample business plan that's an exact fit for your business.
While some business plan proponents separate market and competition, it takes an examination of both, together, to come to one very important final conclusion: your market share. Bplans is owned and operated by Palo Alto Software , Inc. Or, create your own custom business plan easily with LivePlan.
Another example of a goal could be launching an ecommerce store in addition to your brick-and-mortar locations. Use this business plan template to look at all the areas of your business. People may be hesitant to give you money if you overlook the small stuff like proper grammar. Financial Pro Formas: To forecast successful financial performance for all activities You can also download our free business plan template , or get started right away with LivePlan.
If you are providing services, describe these services in detail, including: A general description of each type of service and how it will be performed.
Come out fast. Now that you know how to use a sample business plan to help you write a plan for your business, it's time to find the right one. The Market Opportunity how big is the addressable market? All Rights Reserved.