This article explains how to write a business plan that will impress investors and raise capital; if you want to know how to take your business plan to the next level and use it to truly enhance your business, consider taking some online business courses.
1. Executive Summary – It’s important to grab the investor’s attention in the executive summary, so that he or she wants to continue reading. In order to do this, your business plan should accomplish 3 things.
It should provide a brief explanation of your business (in plain terms, rather than technical jargon).
It should describe the market size that you are targeting, and provide a credible explanation of the market need for your product (why people will buy your product).
You must explain WHY your team is best qualified to capitalize upon this market opportunity.
2) Company Analysis – Here’s where your business plan provides critical background information on your company. Include such details as when your company was incorporated, what type of legal entity, where you’re located, as well as key accomplishments and milestones to date. Again, it’s important to stress your company’s unique qualifications.
3) Industry Analysis – In this section, you want to describe the broader landscape in which your business competes. Provide details on the market size and market trends. And when possible, provide multiple data sources to increase the credibility of your claims.
4) Customer Analysis – Here’s where you provide detailed information on your customers. Be as detailed as possible when describing exactly WHO it is that you do business with. Explain the demographics and the precise needs of the customers that are satisfied by your product or service.
5) Competitive Analysis – In this section, you need to define your competition. While many entrepreneurs are reluctant to admit that they have any competition at all, this will only be a sign of ignorance or naiveté to a sophisticated investor. So, be sure to include competitors (direct as well as indirect competitors).
6) Marketing Plan – This section details the 4 P’s: Product, Promotions, Price and Place. In other words, here is where you provide your plan for acquiring and retaining customers.
7) Operations Plan – Here’s where you want to explain, in detail, exactly how you’re going to execute on your plan. Be sure to include specifics for the short-term as well as the long-term.
8) Management Team – In this section, describe the key team members of your company. Instead of just listing resumes, focus on why your management team makes your company uniquely qualified to succeed.
9) Financial Plan – This is usually the most scrutinized section of the plan. And that makes sense… Because here is where the investor will win or lose! The key is to make sure that your financial assumptions are accurate and consistent with other claims in your business plan.
10) Appendix – This is the last section of the business plan. Here is where you want to include charts and other details that were too detailed for the body of the business plan.
Once you’ve finished writing your business plan, consider taking some business management classes online to learn how to best put your plan into action.