As a business mentor, I am often asked by small business owners, “Why do I need a business plan?” There are two very simple answers:
- To provide you a road map for how you want your company to grow in the next three to five years.
- To allow you to gain access to capital by presenting to venture capitalists or angel investors and applying for loans. Many lenders will not even look at your loan application unless you submit a business plan with your application.
A business plan serves the same purpose as a targeted or guidance system on a missile: the business plan is there to guide the flight of your business and is capable of making course corrections when needed. Be willing to edit your business plan to meet the changing needs of your company.
What is in a business plan?
Typically, your business plan will have these sections:
- Executive Summary
- Company Description
- Mission, Vision, and Goals
- Products and Services
- Market analysis/competitive analysis
- Marketing plan
- Strategy and Implementation
- Organization and Management Team
- Financial plan and projections
What is a mini-business plan?
When my client has multiple departments, I often suggest that the manager of each department write a mini-business plan for their area of expertise. The sales manager may write a mini-plan for sales and marketing while the Director of Operations writes a mini-plan for operations. The CEO then edits each plan so that these different parts fit into one harmonious business plan.
What are 3 ways to write a business plan?
- Lean Start-up is a one-page plan which allows you to write down the basics of your plan. I suggest that my clients write this one first and then expand to the template or traditional long-form when needed.
- Excel template: I have an Excel template which prompts you with questions to pull the content out of you. This is free. I can send it to you via e-mail. If you have questions, ask me.
- Traditional long-form: When most people think of a business plan, they think of this form…and often groan. This format can exceed 70 pages if the writer is truly motivated. I suggest that you conduct an Internet search for “business plan (name of your business type here).” For instance, if I help a florist write a long-form business plan, I will search for “business plan florist.” By reading through these business plans, I pick and choose the verbiage which reflects my client’s business.
If you have questions, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for no cost, confidential counseling.