Developing a business plan is far simpler than you think when you understand some business plan basics.
While the purpose and use of a business plan may vary, the essential elements of a business plan are the same for each and every one.
Knowing the purpose of your business plan will influence what you include or omit.
Consider your audience as this will also influence the approach you take ie the way you position the document and the language you use.
For example, if you're developing a business plan to apply for a loan, you'll have to present your business plan in a more formal way and there may be specific documents required only by the bank.
On the other hand, if you are developing a business plan for internal use only then the language you use can be less formal. A word of caution though ... you'll still need to do the research and include the detail .. that doesn't change.
Remember the "KISS"" principle
Business plans do not have to be long but they must be simple and easy to understand
The points outlined below form the essential elements of any business plan.
Note: These are main headings. In some instances there may be sections that need to be sub-divided or you may find that you don't need a particular section at all. This will depend on the type of business you are starting.
The Executive Summary provides a snapshot of what you are trying to achieve. It only has to be about a page long. While it always appears at the beginning of the document, it's only written after you have the details of your proposed business documented.
Developing a Business Plan
Your Mission Statement (a fancy term for Business Objective) clearly states your business's objective or reason for existence. It need only be one paragraph (or a few dot points).
Your Mission Statement should express what you want to achieve.
This section of your business plan describes the kind of business you'll be running, the products you intend selling and where you'll source them.
It is important to have a clear picture of your ideal customer including age group, educational background, wants and needs, buying habits etc.
This should include your business number (when it was established legally). Also include here any information about yourself, your partner and if you'll be employing anyone (if appropriate).
Describe what you intending selling and focus on the benefit to your customer.
Document the results of the research you have carried out, your customers needs, where they are and how you'll reach them. In the case of an online business this could include details of your website or any other method of reaching your customers eg email marketing, blog, social networking etc.
Be specific. Include your goals including milestones and budgets as well as roles and responsibilities.
Cash flow is the single most important numerical analysis in a plan and should always be included. Most plans will also have Sales Forecasts.
Once your business is up and running you should add a Profit and Loss Statement.
Developing a business plan can be a daunting experience but with the information provided above you should be able to produce a pretty comprehensive business plan even if you are writing one for the first time.
Rmember use this as a guide only. Add anything you feel is relevant to your specific business (and delete anything that you don't) and if you need a bit of help or advice I'm sure your accountant would be only too happy to help.