How to write a simple business plan

1. Describe your business in detail. Start with a written description of your business. This will give you a concise focus. Give an overview of the industry you propose to enter before giving a more detailed description of what your business is and what its purpose will be. Write a clear and concise mission statement that will tell potential investors–and yourself–in a few short sentences, exactly what your business does and why. Describe your business’ history. For a new business, describe why you would like to start this particular business. Provide a clear statement of what your organization’s goals are, both current and future.

2. Outline your proposed operating procedures. In this part of your business you should briefly list your organisational needs, including personnel needs, financial needs and material needs. Other useful information to include: business insurance needs and proposed employee performance controls.

3. List your marketing plan ideas. Briefly list your business’ potential competitors, as well as proposed strategies for positioning your business to stand out among the competition. This will help you determine which types of information, such as demographics, you will need to include in your actual business plan later when analysing your market. Do a brief SWOT analysis of your business, listing its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

4. List the specific financial forms you will need to fill out and include with your business plan. Your financial institution will in most instances require completed loan applications as well as a capital equipment and supply list, a balance sheet and a break-even analysis. Profit and loss statements, which give a detailed overview of your projected income and expenses for the first three years, should also be added to this list.

.You will need to describe how you came up with these numbers or have supporting documents to back them up.

5. List all supporting documents necessary to back up the claims you will be making about your business in the written business plan. This list should include: all tax returns for the owners of the businesses for the past three years as well as a personal finance statement for each. If you are purchasing a franchise business, you will also need to provide copies of all contracts and other necessary supporting documents. If you have leased a space or are purchasing building space, you will need copies of the proposed lease or letter of intent to purchase, as well as all of the required licenses for your specific business type, resumes of the principals and letters of intent from prospective vendors.
If all of this sounds Greek to you, the wannabe new business owner, don’t despair. There are really good, free templates on line or ask an expert. Try it yourself first – it’s quite amazing the clarity and focus one acquires when you put pen to paper and actually see what needs to be done.

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