A business plan is a written document that describes your business, its objectives and strategies, the market you are targeting and your financial forecast.
It is important to have a business plan because it helps you set realistic goals, secure external funding, measure your success, clarify operational requirements and establish reasonable financial forecasts.
Even if you end up enlisting the help of a professional business consultant, you’ll still need to be closely involved in the planning and writing process, so here are some of the most important ways a business plan can help you succeed.
You probably already know who you’ll be targeting with your product or service, but without a business plan you won’t fully understand how you fit into the market, what your priorities should be and the challenges you might face.
This section usually includes information like: Your financial forecast turns your plan into numbers.
As part of any good business plan, you need to include financial projections for the business that provide a forecast for the next three to five years.Writing a business plan requires you to meticulously research the market, which will help you learn more about what your customers really want, how much they’d be willing to pay, how you can attract them, and who your competitors are.In the early days of a business venture when things are still new and exciting it’s easy to become so passionate about your ideas and plans that you fail to see the potential downsides and put adequate safeguards in place.Your business’s success can depend on your plans for the future.Listed below are examples of questions to ask yourself when writing your business plan: The executive summary is an overview of the main points in your business plan and is often considered the most important section.It is positioned at the front of the plan and is usually the first section that a potential investor or lender will read.The summary should: Although the executive summary is the first section of the plan, it is a good idea to write it last – after the other parts of the plan have been finalized.A strong business plan will include a section that describes specific activities that you will use to promote and sell your products or services.A strong sales and marketing section demonstrates that you have a clear idea of how you will get your product or service into market and can answer the following questions for the reader: Don't underestimate the importance of this part of your plan.Information in this section can include: It is also a good idea to outline any recruitment or training plans, including the cost and the amount of time required.The operations section of your business plan will outline your daily operational requirements, facility requirements, management information systems, information technology requirements and any improvements you may have planned.