How Do I Write A Business Plan?
“Business Plan” is a daunting term that can feel very high level, so most new business owners ask themselves, how do I write a business plan? Honestly, it’s not as frightening as it feels. Let’s think about what a business plan actually is: it’s simply the different aspects of your business written on paper—or more likely, typed into a word document! Remember the moment when your business idea had taken shape into your mind? That moment is the first step toward the creation of your business plan.
After you developed this idea, your mind likely started racing with next steps. The evolution of your idea, the manpower required, the competition that you may face, the ways in which you could reach out to your target audience, and, finally, everything financial. All you need to do to get started is to get those thoughts organized.
Here are the sections of a professional business plan:
Management and organization
Request for funding
Appendix with confidential or proprietary information
The business summary itself is most likely the last thing you’ll write! It will talk a bit about your business idea and then tie in all the other sections of your business plan. It gives the reader an overview of the business from 30,000 feet. From here, they can read each section to get a more in-depth view of how you plan to make this business a success.
Market research + marketing plan
Try to understand the market into which your business will operate. Start analyzing your competition and determine what gap in the market you’ll be able to fill. This is a good place to talk about your customer avatar and what your business will do differently to earn their business based on their perceived pain points.
From here, you need a plan to create exposure and brand advocacy for your company! What goals do you need to achieve to become profitable? If you work backwards, how many clients or customers do you need to reach that goal? Now what are the best ways to reach those potential clients or customers? This should all be laid out in your marketing plan.
You’ll need to keep in mind your budget and the resources (like team members you have) when you pick your marketing strategies.
Management + organization
How will you structure your business entity? Will you be a sole proprietor, an LLC, or an S-Corp? Each structure has tax and other benefits, so you need to make an educated decision on which one to choose based on the goals for your company, how many shareholders you’ll have, and more! While you’re thinking of shareholders, you’ll also want to think about the management team. You will encounter challenges along the way that you are not equipped to solve, so it’s essential to have smart team members with varying skill sets to support your vision. Venture Capital firms and angel investors not only look for good ideas, they look for brilliant teams to execute on these ideas successfully.
If you’re a small business owner who will be doing the majority of the work yourself, think about some key roles (like marketing or accounting) that you might want the support of an expert for.
Financials + funding
How much money will you require to get your dream project up and running? I know you’ve already thought about this! Think critically about how much money you will need to build your product, test it, and market it. Whether you go to investors or to a bank for a loan, the people thinking about handing you money will want to know exactly what costs are involved.
Furthermore, they’re going to want to see a return. Once you establish how much money you’ll need, you’ll need to make financial projections showing when you’ll become profitable so everyone knows when they can expect a return on their investment.
When you planned to start your business, you probably tried to work out a lot of this in your head. To create a formal business plan, you need to write it all down! Having each aspect of your business from the product to the financial projections all mapped out will not only make your business feel like a stronger investment to potential investors, it will give you a clear roadmap to follow to profitability.
Meet the Author: Shauna Armitage
Shauna is a Marketing Director or Fractional CMO helping early-stage startups scale with effective strategies, creative solutions, and unparalleled integrity by making the most of small budgets for maximum impact.
As a vocal advocate for women in business, Shauna is on a mission to redefine what it looks like to be a working woman and to support other women doing the same. She spends her free time traveling with her husband and four kids while drinking Coca-Colas. Connect with her on Instagram at @shauna.armitage.