Small Business Series: Chapter Four, Preparing Your Business Plan
A strong business plan is important for your business no matter what stage you’re at in operations. In the beginning, a business plan is important for setting goals and obtaining capital from investors. A well thought out plan shows that you are professional, informed, and organized. If your business has been operating for a few years, a business plan can ensure you are on track to meet old goals, and help you set new goals as your business grows. It can also help you get those creative ideas you have floating around in your head out into the real world. If you are looking to sell your business, a business plan can promote the potential of the business to prospective buyers.
Most business plans include the following:
- Executive Summary
- Company Description
- Market Analysis
- Organization and Management Description
- Explanation of Services or Products
- Marketing and Sales Plan
- Financial Projections
- Quarterly and Yearly Goals
- Funding Request (if applicable)
Business plans can vary in length from 15 – 60 pages, depending on the purpose of the plan. If you are not a strong writer, or do not have the time for the comprehensive “deep dive” into the inner workings of your company, there are many companies and freelancers who can create a professional business plan for you. You may also already have staff on your team who can take on the project. If you’re using your business plan to find funding or otherwise promote your business, it is particularly important that your business plan be clear, concise, professional, and free of errors.
After start-up, review of your business plan is just as important as the initial creation. Smart business owners review their business plan every two or three years to see if the business is still on track with initial goals. This is also the time to update and make changes to your business missions and organizational structure.
It’s often easy to let day-to-day operations take focus, but a clear business plan can keep you on the right track for success.