How To Write A Basic Business Plan
If you want to start a business, you have to know how to write a basic business plan. If you’re a current business owner and want to grow your business, you need a plan. It doesn’t need to be a fifty-page tome, but even a simple business plan can increase your odds of success and show potential clients or investors that you’re serious.
1. Create an outline.
Even a basic business plan has many moving parts. A business plan outline will help you to determine the information you’ll need to create a successful business proposal. There are several components to a business plan, including the executive summary, company description, market analysis, organization and management team, marketing strategy, and financial projections. Forbes suggests a few additional sections, including an analysis of your customer, industry, and competition. Don’t be too overwhelmed by the outline—this is just the first step!
2. Collect the data and documentation.
Here’s where you get the information that supports your business plan. You can’t just say, “I’m going to make a million dollars in my first year of business!” You have to have data that backs up your projections, especially if you’re looking for investors. Provide examples of marketing materials that support your promotions plan. Look at your current team of employees (if you have one) and determine what positions you need to fill to be successful. You’ll also want data on the market you’re entering, the customers you’ll be targeting, and any competition you’ll be facing.
3. Flesh out each section.
Use the data you collected in step two to go through each section and fill out the basic information. Remember, no one is going to come back to you in three years and shake a copy of your business plan in your face while yelling that you haven’t followed through on every item. It’s a guide to your next few years, not law. Even if you’re not sure about something, include it if you think it’s a possibility. You never know what will happen.
4. Decide what to do with it.
What are you doing with your business plan? Just writing it will be a great exercise for any future or current business owner; you’ll clarify your goals, set your direction, and make major strides in marketing, organization, and financing. But once you’ve made this glorious document, what else can you do with it? Entrepreneur offers nine great ways to use a business plan that go beyond simply outlining the future of your business or looking for financing.
5. Keep it updated.
Remember how we said that no one would wave your business plan in your face a few years down the line? Well, even though that’s true, you don’t want your business plan to be drastically different from your current situation. As your business changes, update your plan accordingly. As entrepreneur Tim Berry advises, “Plans are about the future—and nobody gets the future right very often, so keep the plan fresh and watch closely as reality moves forward.”
The Small Business Administration has an easy-to-use tool for creating a business plan that can get you started. Remember, a business takes time to build. Put in the work to create a firm foundation now and you’ll be more successful in the long run.