template business plan

template business plan

Creating a Successful Business Plan

1. Introduction

Every new business needs a plan and a strategy to be successful. Start your business with growth in mind. Consider creating a sustainable business that can expand; a business where entrepreneurship and job opportunities go hand in hand with affordable loans and grants. Entrepreneurs often have many talents, but implementing a plan to get your ideas off the ground often proves to be an elusive task. The term “business plan” can sound intimidating, but it is really nothing more than a roadmap for your business. Basically, it is a written document that describes your business, your goals and how to achieve them, and the expected profits. Your business plan is the foundation for your future, providing the detailed design on how to start and run your business. It is often overlooked by newer, more informal businesses, but it is a crucial step to success. A business plan can vary in depth, but is usually comprised of several core components. Each of these components will be described in subsequent chapters of this guide.

2. Executive Summary

Following is a brief description of the company start-up. This is where you would briefly explain your business idea. What is your product? Who will it benefit? How does your product differ from those currently available? A business plan is a written document that articulates a business concept, market potential, opportunities, financial requirements, and risks. Essentially, it is a road map to success. An attempt to detailed move from a business concept to actual implementation could cause a small existing business to shift to a higher gear. New businesses, especially small businesses, usually do not have the excess capital to allow for mistakes. Therefore, proper planning is vital to survival. A written business plan can effectively communicate your business idea to yourself, employees, or partners. The act of writing down how you will take your business from its current state into the next is likely the most valuable, and sometimes only productive exercise you can take. This is where a business plan becomes a sales tool. Each element of its written form, from what you are doing, to why it can only be you doing it, is the marketing for that specific action. Do not take the task of writing a business plan directly, but do use it at the result of brainstorming through all the option and then rethinking or revising of actions. A business plan is never quite finished and is like a living document that should be periodically revisited to achieve specific results and measure actual versus expected outcomes. Change is inevitable, so be prepared to give the business plan a flexible makeover. A successful business plan is always achieved with an end-reader in mind. Your plan should be geared towards every new action that affects direct or indirect cost. Any measurable goal or specific result must have an associated action to be taken and how the effectiveness of such an action can be determined. Keep the plan logical and sequential. A well-organized and thought-out business plan will always seem more convincing.

Next, you should highlight your company’s mission and vision. The mission is the most important part of your business. It is why you exist. Your vision is the end goal of your company. For example, you could mention wanting to provide the best quality of life for your family and countless others across the globe.

The executive summary should highlight the strengths of your overall plan and therefore be the last section you write. However, it usually appears first in your business plan document. Begin your executive summary with a brief and concise introduction of the company. Think of this as your elevator pitch. What is your company about? What do you do, and what is the end goal? This helps the reader to put your business plan into context and is a reminder to them of what it is they are reading.

The executive summary is often considered the most important section of a business plan. This section briefly tells your reader where your company is, where you want to take it, and why your business idea will be successful. If you are seeking financing, the executive summary is also your first opportunity to grab a potential investor’s interest.

3. Business Description

For the purposes of this business plan, we are treating The Goat Ropers music as a product. TGR will provide clients with the very best in both classic country, western swing, and early honky-tonk music. Our goal is to function as a strong, cohesive unit of professional musicians. TGR intends to generate revenue by securing a steady stream of both private and public performances. Money generated from these performances will be reinvested in the band in an effort to produce a professional CD, and thus further promote our product. TGR will take on the future capital-heavy expenses of purchasing a van and trailer. With this equipment, the band will be able to book more lucrative US and European music tours. The ultimate goal is to make a living off of music by securing well-paying performances at the top music festivals and swing dance events around the country and the world. It is imperative for the success of this business that TGR remain focused on the specific genre of music being promoted. While it is often difficult to define what is meant by such terms as “country” and “western swing,” we have identified a niche market into which our music fits quite well. By our estimation, the US has thousands of swing dancers and an equal number of die-hard fans of traditional country music. These numbers are particularly strong in the Southern and Southwestern states. While it is true that there are a great many bands in the US today performing this style of music, few are doing so on a professional level at a national or international scale.

4. Market Analysis

If the goal is to develop a global product/service offering, then it is best to draw a demographic profile of targeted regions. An example for a software company may look something like this:

In order to find answers to these questions, it is sometimes necessary to obtain primary sources of information. Conducting surveys, holding interviews, and searching through various online forums or communities are great places to start. The company can get a feel for prospective consumers while also creating low-cost options to find out what consumers are looking for.

In the consumer market, asking the right questions can help you avoid wasting too much money and resources on a project with an unideal target. Such questions would be: who are the consumers who will be most interested in what the company has to offer? What are the demographic segments of loyal consumers? What attracted these consumers to the product in the first place? Finally, what are the product/service expectations of these consumers?

First, establish the market that you will be targeting. Market can be defined as customers, and the group of customers which will be your primary focus in selling. It is important to differentiate between consumer and business markets, as the marketing strategies for each are markedly different.

The market analysis section can help you clarify your efforts of large scale development, distribution, and company moves. A well-defined analysis will help to show more customer needs and wants will be addressed. It will greatly enhance your chances of developing a successful business. A couple key points on market analysis:

5. Financial Projections

Now to the more tricky stuff. Financial assumptions. This is predicting how you will actually go about achieving the financial projections mentioned above. It is a summary of how you plan to operate your business and it will greatly help if you have a good understanding of the accounting process. You need a plan of the products or services that you’re selling and you must be very specific. This includes pricing and hypothetical sales volumes. Then translate your expectations into an expense budget. This will project all your operating costs as a plan to achieve the profit that you hope for. These costs are then translated further into a projected balance sheet, which is a completely theoretical comparison of your business’s financial position at a specific point in time. This is effectively the past, the present, and the future of your cash flow statement and it can be used to see if your business is reaching its goals by the way of accumulating assets (or paying off liabilities) and making a profit.

Step two is to prepare a cash-flow projection. This is probably less for others’ benefit and more for your own. It is an extremely useful tool to predict how much money you will actually have in the bank at the end of each month. Start by preparing an initial cash flow statement showing how much cash you expect to begin with. This must be the same as the cash at bank and in hand that you have at the present time. The figure that you include in your projected statement must be the same as what you really do have now, I cannot stress that enough. Now make a spreadsheet showing cash inflow and outflow again on a monthly basis for the first year and then on a more summarized level for the next two years.

Start by preparing an initial income statement showing how much profit you expect to make. This should be prepared on a monthly basis for the first year at least. Make it into a graph as this makes it much more presentable and easy to understand. Then prepare another worksheet for yearly statements. This should be done for the first three years and on a more summarized level.

Financial projections can be a lot of work and so overwhelming that you are either tempted to skip it entirely. That would be a big mistake. As nothing helps an investor make a decision more than your spreadsheet projections. For that reason alone, you should chart your trajectory for at least the first 3 years of your business on a monthly basis. After that, annual projections are sufficient. You could do this on paper, but I highly suggest using a template of some sort, i.e. Microsoft Excel. Here is how you do it.

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