When you start a business, there are so many things on your to-do list that writing a business plan might not be your top priority. But having a business plan is an important step that helps you lay a solid foundation on which to grow your small business.
A well thought out business plan will help you establish your benchmarks for success and identify any hurdles that might arise, so you can have strategies in place to overcome them. Your business plan may also help you fund your business and lets potential investors and money lenders gain a clear picture of your vision before they invest.
While the idea of writing a business plan may seem daunting for some business owners, remember that nobody knows your company as well as you. Let’s take a closer look at some of the things to consider to help you get started.
Before you start writing your plan
The first step to writing a business plan is to decide what you want to achieve with your plan and who you’re actually writing it for. Is it an internal document that helps you determine your strategies for future growth or something you plan to submit to a third party (for example potential investors). Establishing who you’re writing your business plan for will help you develop your content and understand the areas you need to focus your attention on.
Things to include in your business plan
Start by including a quick overview of your business and explain:
- What you do
- How you do it
- Why investing would make your business a success
Don’t forget to include at the start some of your business basics such as:
- Business name
- Business owner (and relevant owner experience)
- Your business ABN
- Your business ACN
- Address / location
- Organisation chart
Name the owners of the business and detail your management structure as well as any partnership agreements that might be in place.
Make a list of the employees you’ll need to hire, including:
- Job titles
- Required skills for each role
- Expected staff turnover
- Recruitment options
- Proposed staff training programs
What you offer
Describe the product or service that you have to offer and the anticipated demand. Things to consider including:
- What problem are you trying to solve?
- Are you filling a gap in the market or creating a new product?
- What is your proposed business model
- Projected profits
- How you plan to fund your venture
This is where you get to describe your target market marketing strategy in detail, including details such as:
- Target customers
- How you intend to attract your ideal customers and build a loyal customer base
- Market research results and how you plan to enter the marketplace
- SWOT analysis (where you identify your business Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats)
- Your unique selling proposition
Think about your overall business goals as well as your plans to build longevity for your business. Outline your:
- Business vision and values
- Company mission statement
- Goals and objectives
Outline your financial objectives, projected profits and what investment amount you’re looking for. Areas to consider including:
- Start-up costs
- Balance sheet forecast
- Profit and loss forecast
- Cash flow
- Break-even analysis
How long is it going to take to implement your plan?
- Set some key milestones
- List these with expected completion dates and the resources you require to achieve them
Once you’re happy with your business plan don’t forget to include a title page that includes your:
- Company logo
- Business name
- Date the document has been prepared
Remember, that you don’t need to write your business plan all at once. Start off with the sections that you find easy to complete or that you consider most relevant for your business and then go back and fill the gaps later.
Once you’re happy with the business plan it’s important to review it on a regular basis. As your business grows and evolves so should your business plan. Keeping your business plan up-to-date with a regular review of your strategies helps keep your business on track and set you up for future success.
Still need help?
If you’re unsure about writing a business plan yourself then there are professionals who can review your draft or help you from start to finish.
There are also plenty of useful online resources to help get you started, such as business.gov.au