How To: Create a Business Plan

Whether your the company has been going strong for 50 years or you're just starting out, having a strong business plan is critical. Recently, I learned that a company I assumed had a strong business plan didn't even have one at all - I seriously couldn't believe it. Learning about the lack of a business plan for this particular company, made me realize that there are probably more companies than we would think without a business plan. Today on the blog I am going to go over the basic elements of a business plan. Hopefully, this will help give you guidance in creating your own plan. This list is elements that most business plans should include, however you will want to research the specific requirements/needs of your industry.

1. Cover page
Business name, logo and contact information (include address, phone numbers, and social channels).

2. Table of contents
List all the sections of the plan and page numbers.

3. Executive summary
A one-page overview that summarizes the whole report.
Objectives, mission statement, keys to success, core values...etc

4. Business description
How does your business satisfy a need?

5. Business environment analysis
What is the outlook for the industry you are in/getting into?
Why is it a good time to start this type of business?
How will you be different?

6. Industry background
What is your previous experience in the industry?

7. Competitor analysis
This is where you will prove that there is a market for your product or services by listing competitors who have had success in the field. Point out the competitor's weaknesses. Show what they are doing the same and different from you.

8. Target market
Describe your demographic - gender, age, occupation, location....etc
This is a great place to add graphics and charts.

9. SWOT analysis
List strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You can even do a higher level version of this

10. Marketing plan
How will you reach your target audience? Examples: internet, pay per click (PPC), emails, billboards, commercials, ads...etc What is your marketing and sales strategy? Sales forecast? Is this company online? If so, what is your web strategy? How will you implement social media?

11. Management summary
Who is in charge? Why are they qualified? What is their vision for the company? This is also a great place to list out what you expect out of employees and who your team needs.

12. Operations plan
What is your start to finish process? Who is making your products or services? How do you ensure quality? Who are your suppliers? w will you assure quality? What raw materials do you need? Who will be your suppliers?

13. Financial plan
What expenses do you expect? What will you use to streamline processes?  What products will help your team be more effective? Breakeven analysis, projected profit and loss, projected cash flow, projected balance sheet.

14. Achievements, awards, milestones
Make note of all of these, and include any relevant information.

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