Business plans are a necessary and vital part of starting, funding and maintaining any type of business. How much time you put into your plan will be seen in the details that all effective business plans should have.
For new companies in the start-up phase, it helpful to have a solid business plan to present to potential lenders and investors. Being able to see exactly where the money will be going and what it will be used for, as well as pertinent company information, potential forecasts and probable scenarios and exit strategies is critical.
For small business plans already up and running, the same information will still be necessary, but you may be able to look at more potentially favorable sources of funding (such as the SBA, which loans money specifically to small companies whether new or already established).
There are several different parts of a business plan including and not limited to:
The most vital part that will be the drawing point for most investors and lenders to be a part of your venture is called the Mission Statement. It is also referred to as the Executive Summary, and it should convey the passion for why you started the company and why you want others to share the vision with you (and be a part of it).
Table of Contents
You should always include a Table of Contents into your business plan for easier navigating throughout, since many average plans can be anywhere from 30-80 pages long, depending on how much information is included and how large the company is.
This includes all company information including background information like how and when the company was formed. It also states what type of company it is, for example a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation or even a non-profit organization. This should also contain the board of directors if necessary.
Industry Statistics and Demographics
Be sure to include all necessary data and figures to support your reasoning as to why your company will be successful in the industry and how it will be able to maintain amongst any and all competition presently and in the future. Make sure you do your homework, and present only factual and concise information.
This section will include all necessary marketing costs, promotional ideas and competitive analysis, as well as timelines and who will be carrying out these functions.
You will want to have quarterly projections for the 1st year of business if you are starting out, the previous 2 years if already in business. Projections should also be included for the annual 2, 5 and 10 -year mark as well.
Obtaining a Sample Business Plan
There are many ways to obtain a business plan sample to help you make sure you include all pertinent information when working on your own business plan. You can search online for free business plan samples, buy a business plan book or even contact your local SCORE chapter in your city for one-on-one help with your business plan. If you are looking for a simple way to just enter in the information when prompted, you can also invest in software such as Business Plan Pro, which takes you step-by-step through a complete business plan that you can print out and use to present to lenders and investors.
The more detailed your business plan is, the more likely potential lenders and investors will be able to fully grasp what the intentions are with the loan, and if your projections seem viable enough for them to be able to either get paid back or make a profit if they are an investor in your company.
The site Small Business Notes has a lot of helpful information on other aspects of starting up your business.