What to include in a business plan
Depending on your business type, your plan could include:
- Business Summary – Write this one-page overview after your business plan is finalised.
- About your business – This is your management plan or operations plan. Cover details about your business including structure, registrations, location and premises, staff, and products/services.
- About your market – Outline your marketing analysis of the industry you are entering, your customers and your competitors, along with your key marketing targets and strategies.
- About your future – Cover your plans for the future and include a vision statement, business goals and key business milestones.
- About your finances – Cover how you’ll finance your business, costing and financial projections.
- Supporting documentation – List all of your attachments in your plan for referral, such as copies of emergency procedures, maps, resumes, or financial tables.
A business plan is vital to helping you get finance
If you’re seeking finance for your business, you’ll need to show banks and investors why they should invest in your business.
Lenders and investors will only risk their time and money if they’re confident that your business will be successful and profitable.
A thorough and well-researched business plan:
- shows that you’re serious about your business
- helps lenders and investors to understand your business idea
- shows your predicted profits and income streams.
Your marketing plan also plays a crucial role in helping you to attract funds.
A business plan can help you prioritise
A complete, thoughtful business plan is one of the most valuable tools to help you reach your long-term goals. It gives your business direction, defines your objectives, maps out strategies to achieve your goals, and helps you to manage possible bumps in the road.
Preparing a business plan allows you to work out the goals you want to achieve, and the strategies to achieve them. This means you can focus your resources and energy on what you need to do, rather than spreading yourself too thin.
Once you’ve got a business plan in place, it’s a good idea to regularly review and update it to:
- remind yourself of your goals and priorities
- assess whether your strategies are working
- adapt to any new changes in your environment
- make the most of new opportunities as they come your way
A business plan can give you control over your business
Business planning can seem overwhelming and time-consuming, but many successful businesses look at it as an opportunity.
The planning process helps you learn about the different forces and factors that may affect your success. If you’re already in business, it helps you to step back and look at what’s working and what can be improved. Instead of worrying about the future, a business plan helps to give you a sense of control over your business and your livelihood.
If you have employees, the planning process can be a good opportunity to seek their feedback on possible ideas and improvements. Your employees will value this opportunity to contribute to the business.
Writing and researching for your business plan gives you the chance to:
- learn about your industry, market, and competitors
- write down exactly where you are in the market and where you’re headed
- identify challenges you may come across and define strategies to avoid or overcome them
- understand your business finances, including managing your cash flow and determining your break-even point
- set specific goals, timeframes for achieving these goals and how you’ll measure performance
- make sound business decisions that focus your activities, maximise your resources, and give you a competitive edge.
Keeping your business plan up to date
It’s important to have a business plan, but it’s just as important to keep it up to date.
A business plan is not a document you create once and store in your bottom drawer. It’s a living guide that you should develop as your business grows and changes. Successful businesses review and update their business plan when circumstances change.
Set yourself a reminder to review your business plan regularly.
To write an effective business plan, you’ll need discipline, time, and focus. Although the process can seem challenging, it’s rewarding, gives you a sense of control over your business and it will pay off in the long run!