Are you interested in starting your own business? One of the most important steps is to prepare a well structured business plan. The business plan serves as your road map for the early years of your business. A good business plan generally projects 3 – 5 years ahead and identifies areas of strengths and weaknesses, keeps you focused and helps to monitor the progress of the business.
The business plan format is a systematic assessment of all the factors critical to your business purpose and goal. The following plans have to form part of your business plan:
- A Vision Statement: An executive summary to provide an outline of your goals and purpose of your business.
- Business profile: The name of your business, the location, a background of the business owners.
- A Marketing Plan: Analyses the product/service you offer and consider how your product/service differs from what is already available. Who is your target market and how are you going to reach it? Who are your competitors? How to attract new clients and how to keep existing ones.
- Risk Management Plan: Include information on the business structure, registration, licenses and permits. All the things that could affect your business and how well you are prepared to cope with them.
- Operating Plan: How does your business work. How are the products made. What equipment, material, and technology are needed. Think of the day-to-day running of a business.
- Personnel Plan: The HR issues – job description, and planning and training of staff. Include CVs of each person who will be involved with starting the business.
- Finance Plan: Economic and cash flow assessments. Sales needed to break even and funding arrangements.
- Action Plan: Resources and tasks to complete and to achieve your goals.
If you want people to read your business plan, keep it short and simple and easy to read. Don’t use long complicated sentences. Avoid buzzwords, jargon and acronyms. Bullet points are good for lists. Business charts make important numbers easy to find and easy to understand.
The physical look of your document is important. The font and font size is important. Use white space liberally and make use of page breaks to separate sections. Use your spell-checker and proofread your text.
A business plan is not just a fund-raising tool. It is a tool for understanding how your business is put together, managing yourself, operating the business and for recruiting.
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