Assembling an appropriate business plan is the most important aspect of a startup business
The process of assembling an appropriate business plan is often the most important aspect of putting up a startup company that has the best possible chance of being successful and prosperous. Business plans are intended to provide entrepreneurs with a specific roadmap on the overall arrangement and goals of a new venture. The following items should be included in every business plan to ensure you cover all of your bases:
1. A company profile
The first section of a business plan should consist of a broad company profile. This might take the shape of a table of contents you’d find in the beginning of a novel – or, as a more modern reference, the profile section of your Facebook page. Be sure to include how your business will function, the products or services you plan to offer, basic information on your market, and any other general details. Keep it short and sweet without delving into too much specific info. That will come later.
2. A more detail-oriented description of the company
This section should be more detailed in terms of describing your company as a whole. Determine what will separate it from competitors. Make note of the types of customers you plan to serve and what their demographics are. Define your specific roles in the business. If you’ve thought about bringing on employees or contractors to lend a helping hand, determine their specific duties, working hours, compensation, and how their work will benefit your company. Essentially, put down a foundation on paper to help you move forward.
3. A survey of your industry, competition, and potential market
Knowing your industry, competition, and potential customer base like the back of your hand is a must for all entrepreneurs. This section is the best place for this information. Explore the history of your industry, its current state, and its projected future. Learn why other enterprises in your field have enjoyed success and what they’ve done to reach that point. Also, it’s important to define your customer base. Who can benefit most from what you offer? How old are these individuals? Where do they live? What is their buying power or socioeconomic status? Should you rent space in a brick-and-mortar retail location, or would selling your items online suffice?
4. Specific details on your products and/or services
In this section, consider laying out your full array of products and/or services you intend to sell. Define what their perks are that would benefit your customers – and how they differ from competitors’ offerings. Nail down some specific ideas on prices based on production costs and what you think your customers would pay for them.
5. Advertising/marketing plan
Create a marketing plan in this section. Make a list of all potential marketing methods you feel are most pertinent for your company and customers. Consider launching a website, purchasing Internet banner ads, or using targeted Facebook ads. You could even place ads in a local magazine, run commercials on satellite radio, or invest in cable TV advertising options. Always remember to keep your customers in mind to decide how you can effectively reach them. Finally, don’t forget to put down a dollar figure for your marketing budget. You may wind up spending more on marketing initially and a little less as you build up a following.
6. A financial overview of your working capital, expenses, taxes, & profit projections
The No. 1 reason a startup will fail is due to a lack of funding. You certainly don’t want to fall into this unfortunate boat – and then need a life jacket to help you swim to shore. Prepare yourself by accounting for all of your business finances. Determine how much startup capital you will need. Explore small business loans from financial institutions, government-funded grants, angel investors, and crowdfunding. Determine your startup costs for equipment, a retail store, an office complex, and marketing methods. Entrepreneurs can save big by using a home office, and don’t forget to claim the home office deduction on your tax return when filing with Uncle Sam. Weigh all expenses for what you offer, production costs, and the price tags you’ll put on these offerings. Don’t forget to define your payment options as well, such as credit cards, money orders, or PayPal. Account for sales and property taxes. Finally, be sure to put a timeline on your financial figures and projected profits. This will help you stay standing on solid financial ground both in the beginning and moving forward.
7. A section with references or an appendix
Your business plan should conclude with a section of references or some other type of appendix. This part may contain resumes, permits, leases, and any other important documents related to your business. Organize this paperwork for quick access when you need it at the drop of a hat. On a final note, it’s wise to keep both a printed copy and a digital version of your business plan.