If you really want to improve your business, the best way to do it is to write a Business Plan. It is not the plan itself that is so important, although it is a valuable asset but the process as it makes you really think about the business and focus on the way that you will operate and grow the business in the future.
There are seven key topic areas in a good business plan as follows:
- The Executive summary
Although this is at the beginning of the plan, you will write it last as it is an overview of the entire plan. Most banks will read it first or use it when considering future funding so ensure that you have the most important points of the plan written well. Include rationale for needed financing and how this will be used, the growth you will expect as well as the products and services that you provide, and staffing required. Remember, you are writing this for someone who may not be familiar with the details of your business so be clear and comprehensive but also keep it brief, so the reader is not bored.
- Mission statement
This is an enthusiastic statement or two that condense your motivation for doing the business and how others including clients, employees, staff and investors benefit.
- Company description and history
This is a section where you will talk about when the business started and how it has progressed since then. Include past, present and future products and services that have been sold, and why you have a competitive advantage over similar businesses. Also include the type of business you have under the law (incorporation, sole proprietorship etc.) the physical location and number of staff you employ.
- Market analysis
In this section you will be talking about your "ideal client" and how far your business reach has extended to this point. You will also outline the potential market you will reach with expansion and the trends that might affect greater demand for your goods and services. Describe the delivery methods you will use (in person, through physical products, internet etc.) as well as the reasons why people will make purchasing decisions (price, quality, trust etc.). Finally, describe the competition and how they attract the same buyers that you want.
- Marketing plan
This section describes how you will advertise or promote your business in order to increase revenue. Include a budget to cover the costs of preparing materials and having them delivered as well as the pricing strategy that you have developed for the market.
- Management summary and personnel plan
Here you will lay out the organizational structure of the company and job descriptions of each person. Talk about how each position is important to the business and how they will be reimbursed (salary, hourly wage, benefits etc.). This will likely be the biggest expense for your business so calculate a figure for the entire year of staffing or contracting. If you are a solo professional, describe how you will get all the various aspects of the work done.
- Financial statements.
You might it easiest to have software that will help you to create Balance Sheets, Profit and Loss statements and other reports that show the past years as well as projections for your business.
If you are confused or don't know what to include, there are many resources available in organizations, books and internet sites to help you with this.
When you have completed the Business Plan you will have a far better understanding of your business and the future that it holds for you.