Every business needs to have a solid business plan that evolves over time to react to the business climate and economic picture. Here’s what the Small Business Administration recommends including in your plan:
The executive summary is considered the most important part of a business plan and provides an overview of the business along with a history of the company and a mission statement. The plan should also include financial goals, employee information, product information and growth plan. The SBA suggest writing this section last.
The market analysis section should have information about the industry your business is in. It should also identify your target market and presents any results and conclusions from marketing research data you’ve collected.
The third section of your business plan provides a high-level description of your company and how the different elements of your business fit together.
This section details employee roles within the company as well as the organizational structure. In this section you will also provide information on the ownership of the company, profiles of the management team and the qualifications of the board of directors (if there is one).
This section includes marketing and sales strategies for your business and how you plan to attract new customers. The sales strategy will detail your target customers and the plan of action for how the sales force will achieve stated objectives.
Here is where you will describe the service or product you are selling and detail how they benefit your current and potential customers. This section will include details such as your products’ life cycles as well as any copyright, patent, or trade secret information that might be relevant.
In this section you should state your funding needs to start or expand your business. It will include your current funding requirements as well as your funding needs over the next five years.
If you own an existing business, you will provide the historical financial data in this section, including income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements for each year you’ve been in business up to three to five years. You will also need to provide your prospective financial data to show creditors how you expect your company to progress over the next five years.
You may not need to provide all the information in the appendix to everyone, but you should have it all ready to go just in case. The appendix will include items such as credit history, the resumes of key managers, legal documents, building, permits and contracts.
The U.S. Small Business Administration offers the following tips to help get your business started off on the right foot.