Most entrepreneurs think about writing a business plan when they need funding from investors. If most of their funds come from relatives and friends, entrepreneurs tend to ignore this step for good. A business plan is not only for funding, a business plan is a tool that can determine the success of a business.
Having a business plan allows entrepreneurs to be more responsible in controlling their business’ fate and to monitor the progress. Putting together a business plan will allow the business owner to determine the value of their business and to create the marketing, financial, operations and staffing plans.
A well-written business plan can attract new customers, new investors and new talent to one’s business, so here’s a step by step guide on how to write a business plan for a start-up:
Step One – Executive Summary
The main purpose of the executive summary is to make people understand what are the business’ objectives, without having to read the entire business plan. The executive summary is not an introduction to the business plan, it is the place where all the important elements of a business should be included. The executive summary shouldn’t have more than 1-2 pages and it should incorporate the concept of the business with its key objectives, the management team and the structure of the business, the target markets, a short summary of the marketing strategy, and, last but not least, a summary of the financial plan.
This section should be written after the entire business plan to be sure all the important are included in this first section.
Step Two – Business Overview
All the important details about the business’ concept and purpose should be included in the business overview. Starting from the history, including vision, mission and objectives and ending with the ownership structure and the business structure, this section should explain why the business is an asset to its market.
Step Three – Product And Services
The section of products and/or services should include all the details about the features, benefits, production process and advantages of the products/services provided by the start-up.
Step Four – Industry Overview
The size and growth of the industry of the business, details about potential customer and other relevant details about the market should be included in this section. Conducting market research to write this part of the business plan is preferred.
Step Five – Marketing Strategy
The market research mentioned above is not only important to write the Industry Overview, but also to create a successful marketing strategy that should be added to this section. The Marketing Strategy should include all the marketing tactics and the sales strategies that will be used to promote the business.
Step Six – Operations Plan
The Operations Plan section should be the proof that the entrepreneur knows how the business will operate. The management team, HR strategies, location, facilities and an overview of the daily operations (including a production plan if the business is selling products) should be integrated in this section.
Step Seven – Financial Plan
This is one of the most important, if not the most important, part of a business plan. This part should contain financial or projected financial statements including cash flow statement, balance sheet and income statement. More details about how to create an effective financial business plan are specified in this article.