It is a never to be compromised law that Success in business comes as a result of planning. Your ability to develop a well written business plan is going to be a major factor that will affect the survival of your business. Since your success in business is directly proportional to how in depth your business plan is, i want to use this article as a medium to teach you how to write a business plan that wins.
To those who might not know what a business plan is, a business plan is a written plan that contains every researched detail of your business, its financial projections, strategies to be employed to grow the business, your ultimate goal for the business and how you intend to achieve this goal.
Therefore a business plan can be said to be a written operational plan for your business. In your quest to write a business plan, proper care should be taken to avoid unnecessary error because your business plan is a long range “map” to guide your business to the goal you have set for it. The plan details the what, why,
where, how and when of your business. The smooth running of your company lies in your ability to effectively write a business plan.
When you write a business plan, you are indirectly developing an operating manual for your business which will keep your business on the right track and guide you in the profitable management of your business. Writing a “winning” business plan that guarantees your success in business takes study, research and time, so don’t try to do it all in just one or two days.
The smartest way to begin is to get either a notebook or a PC. Look for a cool, quiet spot to sit and think about your business plan. Choosing a quiet spot will enable thoughts and ideas race through your mind. I will like to advise that when you are not working on your business plan, always carry a notepad to put down business ideas you pick up along the way.
At this stage, you are now ready to write a business plan. The next paragraph will be an answer to the question “How to write a business plan?” Join me as i bring the format of a business plan to you.
A standard written business plan should Be In The following format:
The Title Page
Your statement of Purpose
Table of Contents
Your Business Description
Market Research and Analysis
Business location analysis
Current and past Financial Records
Presentation of Plans for Growth
Forecasted Profit & Loss Figures
Details of Financing for Growth
Summary of Business Plan and implementation strategy for the Future
List of Business & personal References
These are the key points every business plan should cover. Each of these key points will be explained in details later on because they will also contribute to your success in business.
When you sit down to write a business plan for your business, you will be forced to take a critical look at your ideas and strategies. Putting all your ideas down on paper allows you to change, erase and refine them so that the best can be gotten out of them. A business plan will enable you to spot weaknesses and strengthen them before they turn to major problems. Also when writing your business plan, ensure you seek advice from other entrepreneurs and professionals most especially, your accountant and attorney.
Now let me explain briefly the basic key points that make up a business plan.
The first is the title page. It is always placed as first page of a business plan. This is where your personal name, business name and address of your business usually appear.
Coming behind your title page is the page for your statement of purpose. The statement of purpose is a simple statement of your primary business function, such as: We are a company engaged in
the business of manufacturing cosmetics. The statement of purpose should be clear, short and straight to the point.
Next in line is your table of contents page. This page however can only be written after other key points of the business plan have been covered.
The following page should be your business description. It is advisable to begin your business description where your statement purpose stopped. On this page, you will have to describe your product, the production process, and most importantly, what makes your product or service unique. Your description should be summarized by stating your business beginning, present position and its potential for future success.
Next is the description of the market you’re trying to penetrate. This will cover what the market needs or why they will buy your product. You will also have to show in detail how you intend to reach these potential customers. If you have conducted a market research or survey, this is the best place to insert the results. Also remember to include your marketing and advertising plan here.
The next chapter deals strictly with competition. You have to identify who your competitors are, their weakness and strength. Your business plan will have to explain how you intend to take advantage of those weaknesses and match their strengths. The best way to get this done is to pose as a customer, develop a series of survey questions and send out these questionnaires to each of your competitor.
The chapter on management should be a detailed information about the people operating the business. It includes those involved in running the business, their job, titles, duties, responsibilities and background resume’s. When you write a business plan, it is important that you display a strong picture of your top management because investors will be investing on the professionalism of your management.
Those investing in any new venture will want to know the person in charge. They want to be sure that the person running the business is competent enough to handle their money.
The next in a business plan is a picture of your financial status. Generally, this is a list of your profit & loss statements for six months, cost and income, plus copies of your business income tax records for the previous three years.
This next chapter on your business plan will be an explanation of your plans for the future
growth of your business. It is a detailed explanation of how you plan to keep your business growing. A detailed guide of what you are going to do to increase your profits. This section of your business plan should show investors your goals for the coming year, two years, and three years. By breaking your objectives down into annual milestones, your plan will be accepted as more realistic and be more understandable as a part of your ultimate success.
Following this is the projected cost and income figures of your three year plan. It will take a lot of research and thorough analysis to get this done. You might also need to calculate how long it is going to take before you begin to recoup your investment. At this point, you are now ready to talk about how and where you are going to raise the money to finance your business. Unless you are independently wealthy, raising money is definitely going to be the next headache you are going to face but don’t worry, i just concluded a three page article titled “How to raise money for your business” You can go over to my blog and read it. Enough said, let’s move on.
In conclusion, write out a brief overall summary of your business. This will include when the business was established, the purpose of the business, what makes your business different, how you are going to gain a profitable share of the market, and your expected success in the coming 5 years..
The last page of your business plan is a “courtesy page” listing the names, addresses and phone numbers of personal and business references. It includes persons who have known you closely for the past five years or longer and companies or firms you have done business or credit dealings with during the past five years.
Voila!!! You have just written a complete business plan. Please before you send it out for formal typing, read it over once a day for a least week. Make changes and corrections, have it reviewed by an attorney and then, an accountant. I will also advice you have your business plan reviewed by a business consultant serving the industry to which your business will be related. After all reviews and changes, you are now ready for formal typing.
Hire a professional typist to type the entire business plan on ordinary white paper. Make sure you proofread it against the original. Check for any corrections and typographic errors. Then read it through for clarity and perfection.
Now you have a complete and detailed business plan with which to operate a successful business of your own. A plan you can use as a basis for any financing proposal you may want to submit and a precise road map for the attainment of real success.
I hope this article has been able to calm the storm of “How to write a business plan.” I wish you Good luck and success in business.