Do I need a business plan?
Yes. A business plan is the resume for your business. It provides information about your company and its industry, describes a marketing plan, details an operations plan and projects the financial needs of the business. It helps you allocate resources properly and make informed decisions. It provides specific and organized information about your company and how you will repay borrowed money. A thorough, well-written business plan is crucial to obtaining financing. Additionally, it can tell your sales personnel, suppliers and others about your operations and goals.
What is included in a business plan?
The business plan describes an entrepreneur’s idea or a company’s past and current operations and then demonstrates how the request for an investment or loan will enhance the company goals and reward the investor. However, the most important function of the business plan is to communicate your goals and guide your company. Below is a basic outline for a business plan.
1. Table of Contents with Page Numbers
2. Executive Summary (1 – 2 pages)
- Highlights major points of a business plan, including management team, market size, marketing strategy, strategic alliances, potential profits, dollar amount requested and proposed terms for repayment
- This section should be the LAST section written
3. Summary of the Business or General Company Description
- Explain the business
- Mission statement, company goals & objectives, business philosophy
- Describe industry, overview of product(s) or service(s) offered, market and competition and management experience
- Company strengths and core competencies
- Legal form of ownership
4. Products or Services Offered
- Explain products and/or services in depth, pricing, fee structure, if applicable
5. Marketing Plan
(A) Market Analysis
- Target Market: Identify customer’s, provide demographic information explaining their characteristics
- Industry Overview: Detailed analysis of market size, growth, major trends, etc.
- Competition: Detailed analysis of top 3 – 5 competitors (review of competitor’s strengths and weaknesses)
(B) Marketing Strategy
- Explain in detail how your company will capture market share and your marketing/advertising public relations plan
6. Operational Plan
- Explain the daily operations of the business: location, equipment, legal environment, personnel, processes, etc.
7. Management and Organizational Plan
- Describe in detail your team’s experience, strengths, job functions, and plans to fill gaps in management team
8. Financial Data – 3 Year Financial Projections
- Cash flow, assumptions, income statement, balance sheet spreadsheets, break even analysis, sources and applications of funds.
9. Appendix, with supporting documents, contracts, letters of intent, research, etc.
Will the SBDC write the business plan for me?
No. The SBDC will assist you in developing and reviewing a business plan. However, it is important that you write your business plan yourself. Writing a business plan forces you to think through issues that you may not have considered otherwise. The SBDC does offer workshops and on-line training courses that will assist you in writing your business plan.