In my last entry we spoke about establishing goals for your business. Whether you’re planning on opening a construction company or a bakery, a small accounting firm or a large recording studio – we all need goals. It’s the companies (especially the new ones) with clear goals and plans who have a higher chance of success. Take those goals you already set last week and use them now to help flesh out your business plan, adding as many details as you can to strengthen it, but also keep it to the point! Nobody wants to waste time deciphering the meaning of every other word as if it’s a contract filled with jargon. The reader should be able to understand what he/she is reading. This is the most important document for your company because you and your employees can and should constantly refer to it to see how well your company is doing, and to decide whether or not to make changes along the way so that you can continue to grow and succeed.
- An Executive Summary that Outlines your Goals and Objectives – This is probably the most important section because this is what lending institutions will read to help them decide whether or not to help give you money to start your business, plain and simple. It also is what employees and future customers will read to help them better understand your business and what you have to offer.
- The Origins of your Company – Tell the story of how your company began, from the first idea to how you actually created your business.
- Short and Long-Term Goals – Pretty much self-explanatory. Set all your goals and put them down on paper, from discussing how fast you think your business will grow to who you think your primary customers will be.
- Biographies of the Management Team – Names, background, and responsibilities of each team member should be listed. This also helps clears up any issues between employees before they arise.
- Service/Product You Will Offer – How is your service or product different from the others? Really describe in detail what you are offering the customer/consumer.
- Market Potential for your Product/Service – Where is the demand for your product, in which areas, and for how many miles around you? Is your business more Web-based? Then find out and discuss the demand on a more national or international basis. Remember, you can learn a lot from the internet, so there is not always a need to “shell” out money (especially since you have so many other expenses!) and waste it on research sites for data when you can access some of this for free. Be smart like you’re food shopping – use those coupons. Some of the wealthiest people in the world know when to spend, and when not to.
- Marketing Strategy – How will you let people know about your business? – In what ways will you advertise your business? List it all, including how much everything will cost, broken down and in total.
- 3-to-5-Year Financial Projection – This is where it’s worth spending the money to show a summary of your financial forecasts if you’re not sure what to do. One option is to hire a professional, and another is to buy financial management software.
- Exit Strategy – This strategy will let you know when it’s time to fold, if need be. Nobody plans to close a business, and nobody wants to think about it. But sometimes it’s necessary, and it’s best to get out before really sinking financially and emotionally.
Here’s a great link that shows you examples of over 500 business plans covering a variety of fields: http://www.bplans.com/sample_business_plans.cfm Writing your business plan is the next step to your company’s success. So make it strong. Make it concise.