simple business plan template

simple business plan template

Creating a Simple Business Plan

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1. Introduction

In today’s increasingly complex and fast-paced business environment, entrepreneurs of all kinds – be they experienced business people, or those just starting out – need a clear understanding of what they want to achieve, and a plan for how they are going to do it. An essential part of any business is the business plan – a written document that outlines the what, why, how, where and when of the business. Surely for an established business, the business plan should be updated annually as conditions change. In the case of a new business, forming any kind of business plan is the first hurdle to be cleared, which will be covered in depth in this book. As implied before, there is no right or wrong way to go about putting a business plan together. Take for instance, since the business plan is a crucial element in obtaining funding, it should be specifically geared towards investment a financial institution. This type of plan generally requires detailed information regarding projected cash flows, proposed internal rate of return, and the expected payback period for a particular investment. This information might be out of place for a strategic plan which is directed at consumers and existing customers. On the other end of the spectrum, a business plan might be aimed at an audience outside the business, in which case it’s a case of formalizing the plan and going through a series of discussions and revisions. For this case, an informal “white paper” might suffice. This book seeks to explore all aspects and variations of business plans, in order to provide an in-depth examination.

2. Executive Summary

The executive summary should be no more than 2 pages long, with brief summaries of other sections of the plan. It should also bring the summary to a close by stating the exact course of action that will be taken. Market and competitive achievements should be stated as strategic developments.

We suggest that you write the summary first and use it as a guide for writing the detailed plan. Keep in mind this is a summary, and if you can’t elaborate on an area in a few sentences, it will be impossible to provide the details later. Make sure that it’s convincing and it makes the reader eager to find out more. A tone and style consistent with the rest of the plan is very important to maintain. After all, it is setting the stage for the entire business plan.

The purpose of an executive summary is to give the readers a big picture view of the entire business plan. Its goal is to inform the reader about the highlights of the plan, where the company is going, and how it will get there. It is often the first thing an investor or bank will read before going through the plan. Make sure the language and tone are consistent with the rest of the business plan.

3. Business Description

Location and hours of work are an important factor for any business. Provide details on the location that your business will be situated and whether it will be a space made to lease or home run. Consideration must be made that in certain types of businesses, leasing a space may be too large of an expense and an unnecessary risk. Remembering that the goal of any business is profit, many expenses are to be minimized without hindering desired effectiveness. Include what the work environment will be like ranging from furniture and design and to the dress code of employees. Will there be set hours of work or will employees have options to provide flexibility in their work schedules? This is all something to think about when considering that the comfort and efficiency of employees will directly influence the productivity and quality of your business. This in mind, always consider what is cost-effective. Every decision and expense in a business should have a purpose and an outcome of benefit and further detailing location and hours of work will make sure that the decisions made are detailed and effective. Always cross-reference with the nature, intention, and long-term objective of your business. Be sure to not contradict them.

Define at this point the major goals and objectives of the business. This can be reached in point format or statement. This lets people know what you are working towards and defines what the business will have to meet to be considered a success. It’s a great way of measuring and showing the success of a business and should constantly be referred back to in times of change to make sure that the changes do not contradict the initial purpose of the business. After a period of time when a business has met its initial goals and objectives, new ones will be made to keep the motivation and creativity alive. This should encourage the growth of the business. With one thing leading to another, meeting goals and objectives must always be a focus. Milestones will be made to measure the successful completion of each objective. Starting first with the opening date of the business, a schedule can be made of the date at which each milestone will be completed. As simple as this sounds, it is another great way of showing the direction of your business. Stick to your goals and objectives and march directly to their completion.

The business description usually begins with a short “Heads Up” statement indicating the nature, intent, and long-term objective of the business venture. Be clear when avoiding too much detail in the Heads Up. Develop a clear and direct statement of the business’s nature and intent. Include in the statement how it will satisfy customer needs and be distinguished from its competition. This is important when obtaining a loan and real sweating currency from investors. Your business description is an excellent way of showing how a clear and direct strategy will be implemented to satisfy a need and how the business will be unique in doing so. This will give the loan officer or investor confidence in knowing that he will have a better chance of being repaid for the loan or investment. Confidence is key because very few people would like to throw their money away in a risky investment or loan to someone who cannot afford to repay it. Confidence is obtained through detail and preparation, so always show that your business has a concrete direction and with the following information, you will do just that.

4. Marketing and Sales Strategy

These provide a systematic approach to what is actually a continuous process. For this reason, a snapshot of your market position which includes who your customers are, your current market share, the size of the market, and who your competitors are, should be reviewed periodically. After this it is a question of concentrating your resources on your key target markets. A common mistake small businesses make is to spread their resources across a range markets thinking that this will limit risk. This is not a viable strategy for small business due to small resource bases and a lack of time. The market objectives set should be realistic and achievable. This could range from the actual sales figures to specific goals such as launching a new product or targeting a new sector. A sound market strategy is built on research. The aim of the game is to know your customers so well that your product or service fits them and sells itself. This should take the guessing out of marketing and minimize the risk. The final step is to define how you will implement your strategies and when this will take place. This should be a detailed plan with specific dates and deadlines.

– Begin with a snapshot of the company’s current situation. – Identify key target markets. – State your marketing objectives. – Research the competition. – Define your marketing strategies. – Set deadlines and a marketing budget.

Marketing is the process of creating customers, and customers are the life-blood of your business. In this section, the first thing you want to do is define your marketing strategy. There is no single way to approach a marketing strategy; your strategy should be part of an ongoing business-evaluation process and unique to your company. However, there are several steps you can follow which will help to increase your chances of success:

5. Financial Projections

Since you have made a sales forecast, you can use this information to create a pro forma profit and loss statement showing projections for your business for the next three years. This is the foundation of your financial projections. The profit and loss assumption statement shows projected sales, costs, and expenses. The sales or revenue projection is your best estimate of how much you are going to sell each month. The next section explains the cost of sales. The following two articles in this series explain how to estimate the expenses for a business and how to develop a monthly cash flow. Follow the links to more detail on each component of the financial projections. Cost of sales per month is your sales forecast, in units and/or dollars, times the cost per unit. Fill in this information which you should already know quite well from your sales forecast. If you are selling more than one product, the sales forecast will need to be split into a forecast by product. Similarly, you will need to calculate a cost of sales for each product. Cost of sales is a critical determinant of business success. It is important to be realistic and as accurate as possible when estimating costs. This is one area where it is definitely better to overestimate than underestimate costs. If costs are lower than expected, it will simply increase profitability. If costs are higher than expected, it can have disastrous effects on profit levels and the survival of the business.

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