Creating a Business Plan

If you’re considering starting a business, step one is to create a business plan. The written document will detail how you envision the company and the steps necessary to achieve that vision. Basically, it’s a game plan for your company—your strategy for success, obstacles you might face, and the resources and team players you’ll need.

The business plan will be your guide in deciding whether the business is worth pursuing (Can the business be profitable?) and how to operate if you decide to move forward with the business. Oftentimes, business plans also are required to secure business loans or investors.

But business plans aren’t just for start-ups. If you’re seeking additional funding for your company or are reinvesting profits, an updated business plan is a good idea. You’ll also want to update your plan if your company’s offerings or industry has changed, so you can adapt to these changes.

Plan for three to five years in the future. Your company will have certain assets, abilities, and challenges when you begin. The situations it will face will be extremely different a few years down the road. Plan for that change.

While there is no set of hard rules on how to structure a business plan, you’ll generally want to include the sections listed below, plus a title page, table of contents, and appendix. (Microsoft Office also has some good business plan templates.) At a bare minimum, include a description of the business, your financial needs, a marketing plan, and financial projections.

Note: If you need help creating a business plan or want someone to look over a plan you’ve already created, contact the Perryton Community Development Corporation at 435-4014. The organization offers free business consulting to current and prospective Perryton businesses.

Common Sections of a Business Plan
Executive Summary
At the beginning, clearly state an overview of the plan. Include the business name and location, what the business will offer, the business’ mission statement, and the purpose of the plan.

It’s often easier to write this section last. Working through the details of the plan can help you write a more accurate, concise summary.

Business Description
Here you will describe your business and its industry. Include what the company will offer, who its customers and suppliers will be, and what your short- and long-term goals are. Also include whether it will be an LLC, corporation, etc.

When describing the industry, include its current state and future projections, including factors and developments that are likely to positively or negatively affect it. (For example, an insurance sales company would need to cover the business impact of the PPACA going into effect this year.)

Products and Services
Describe the services and/or products your company will offer. Include the benefits to the customer and supplement with pictures or drawings if available. Detail the costs and projected profits from your products. Also, don’t forget to include information about your suppliers. If you are creating new products, this is where you will describe the products’ development plan and budget.

Market Strategies
Analyze the market, determine your target market, and delineate strategies to succeed. Outline your target customers and include demographic data. Include any marketing data available for your offerings. How will you reach your target customers? How will you market to and appeal to them?

Competitive Analysis
Evaluate your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. What advantages and disadvantages do you have? How will you situate your company to best compete with others in the market?

Operations and Management
Describe the company’s organizational structure and how you will operate on a day-to-day basis. This is where you will include employees’ positions, titles, and responsibilities. If you will have multiple owners, you’ll also include their percentage of ownership, level of involvement, and any relevant background information. Also include labor costs and other expenses of operating the business.

Financial Plan and Projections
Here you will include your financial projections, data, and budgets. Project cash flow statements, income statements, and balance sheets. If you’re creating an updated business plan, you’ll also include past cash flow statements and balance sheets in this section. With the financial information, include a brief analysis.

 


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