Dave Lavinsky, Contributor
I help entrepreneurs become more successful.
Business Plan Template: What To Include :
All entrepreneurs and business owners should have a business plan. The very process of developing your plan helps you understand they type of business you’d like to build, and the action plan which you will need to follow.
However, there’s only one time when EVERY entrepreneur and business owner develops a business plan. That’s when they need to raise funding. Since virtually all lenders and equity investors require a formal business plan.
To help you out, here is my proven business plan template, and the information below details the 11 key sections to include in your plan.
As simple as this seems, include a cover page with your contact information so potential investors can easily reach you.
2. Executive Summary
If investors don’t like your Executive Summary, they won’t read any further, so this section is critical.
Concisely describe what your business does and what market need it solves. Of critical importance, describe your “unique success factors,” which are the 4-7 reasons why your business will be successful.
Also show your topline financial projections and amount of money you are seeking to raise here.
3. Company Overview
In this section, give a profile of your company. Answer questions such as where you are located, when you were formed, and what is your legal entity form.
Also discuss the stage of your company: what successes has your company already achieved?
4. Industry Analysis
In the Industry Analysis section, you will detail the market in which you are competing, how large it is, and what trends are affecting it.
5. Customer Analysis
Here you will identify who your target customers are and their needs. Get as specific as you can with regards to the demographic and psychographic make-up of your customers.
6. Competitive Analysis
In this section, identify your competitors and their key strengths and weaknesses.
Importantly, identify your competitive advantages, that is, why you can be more successful than the others.
7. Marketing Plan
In this section, you will describe your products and/or services and your desired brand positioning.
Importantly, you will also detail your promotions plan, which is how you will get customers to know about your company (e.g., newspaper ads, direct mail, etc.).
Finally, if applicable, discuss your distribution plan, which details from where customers can purchase your products and/or services.
8. Operations Plan
Your operations plan should detail the key operational processes your organization needs to accomplish on a daily basis to achieve success. In addition, it should identify the milestones you need to accomplish over the next 1-3 years in order to achieve success.
9. Management Team
The Management Team section of the business plan must prove why the key company personnel are “eminently qualified” to execute on the business model.
Also mention gaps in your team and who you need to hire.
10. Financial Plan
Your financial plan is critically important to investors. Identify the ways in which your company generates revenues. And highlight the key assumptions which govern your financial projections.
If you are seeking funding, identify how much money you need to start and/or run your business, and the primary uses of these funds.
Finally, include a summary of your financial projections.
Use the Appendix to support the rest of your business plan. Include your full financial projections, including your projected income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements.
Include any additional details, such as patent information, customer lists, etc., that help prove to investors that your company is a great investment opportunity.
Using this business plan template and the information detailed herein will force you to think through your business and document it in a way that investors and other readers fully understand. Be sure you can not only present your business well in the written business plan, but in person. Since investors and lenders will want to meet you face-to-face before writing a sizable check.
Retrieved from: Forbes