Start with a 10-15 page plan, not more. Good business plans are logical, concise, and realistic, with some emotion thrown in between. Write a (well proofread) business plan not only to convince investors/financiers, but also to structure your thinking about how the business will run.
Writing a concise business plan clears your mind.
- Mission statement/Executive Summary: The purpose of your business (e.g. 'helping people succeed at work') in a great 1-2 lines, which also points to where you see your business in, say, five years' time (e.g. 'market leader in career guides').
- What problem your product/service help solve? How? Who will care?
- Current Market Situation: Market trends, target customers, competitors
- Competition: Their products, their customers, their share of the market, their strategies, their operations and facilities
- Marketing strategy: Initial marketing targets, products, services, specific volume/value/share of these markets you hope to achieve
- Marketing plan (also known as 'go to market' plan): Marketing methods segment-wise, specific marketing activity/ies, who will do it, costs, monitoring and review of marketing activities, adjusting activities depending upon the response to your marketing, planning the marketing budget over course of year
- Sales targets and objectives: sales of different product/service types by volume and value; sales from different customer groups; and sales from different distribution channels.
- People: Who is in your team and how are they perfect for the job?
- Operational requirements (needed for financial forecasts): Plans and costs for premises, equipment, staff, suppliers, compliance, licensing etc
- Current financial requirements and financial forecasts: A breakdown of your financial requirements (cost of starting your business; your personal budget), the sources of financing you have available to you (your own personal finances, etc), a detailed monthly cash-flow forecast (how much money coming in, how much going out), a profit and loss forecast (when you will break even, when you will start to make a profit), and a balance sheet forecast (a snapshot of the financial position of your business - what your business will owe, what it will own, and how things will improve in future.)
- Business risks and how you plan to minimize them: Examples of business risk include - lack of management experience; no business history; economic uncertainties; reliance on key staff; reliance on a few suppliers; reliance on a small customer base; bad customer debts; partnership difficulties; increased competition; security and insurance against burglary and loss; and failure to meet your sales targets, etc. Choose the relevant ones and add in your own.
Put the business name, your address, your phone numbers, email address, and the date on front and in back.
Sample table of contents of a business plan: Cover, title page, executive summary, contents page, contents, and appendices.
Startups really need five things in their first year
- Investment (or revenue)
- Feedback from investors
- An MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
- Attention (press, buzz, users, etc.)
Thank you for reading.
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