If you’re a small business owner, you need a business plan. Not only will a business plan help you think more clearly about your business’ future, it also forces you to organize your goals and strategies, and keeps your business on track. Just like psychologists recommend writing down personal goals, having your business goals in writing will keep you focused and layout a game plan to success.
How to Write a Small Business Plan
Before you start writing out your plan, you need to understand that not all business plans are created equal. A business plan that isn’t well-thought out, or that focuses on the wrong things, can end up doing more harm to your business than no plan at all.
For a business plan to be successful, it should first and foremost be realistic. Make a plan that can be executed; impossible deadlines, milestones, or forecasts will only lead to disappointment. At the same time, your deadlines, milestones, and forecasts should be concrete. Hard dates for when you will achieve certain objectives should be enforced, and you should have clear objectives that you can strive for.
Elements of a Successful Business Plan
Always, always follow the KISS (Keep-It-Simple-Stupid) rule. Everything you write in your business plan should be short and simple. For example, In your strategy and tactics section, use bullet points to list the major points. The easier your plan is to read, the quicker you can reference it and make sure your business is still on track.
A typical business plan includes these 10 sections:
1. Executive Summary: A brief description of your business and it’s goals
2. Organization and Management: How your business is structured
3. Funding Request: You may or may not have this, depending on whether or not you’re trying to receive funding for you business.
4. Unique Factor: What makes your business unique and stand out from the rest of the marketplace?
5. Company Description: A more in-depth version of the executive summary
6. Service/Product Line: Information about your service or products
7. Financial Projections: While every business can benefit from this to a certain degree, it is especially important for those business seeking funding.
8. Market Analysis: Information about your competitors and the market as a whole
9. Marketing And Sales: Your marketing plan and your sales strategy
10. Appendix: This is completely optional, but could be used to store information and documents like permits and leases.
Business plans are highly recommended, even necessary, for new small business owners. But even if you’ve already started your business, you should still set aside some time to write one. It will help you refocus your efforts and give you concrete goals to work towards.