An Introduction to Business Planning: a one-pager
A business plan describes what you do, how you do it, who’s responsible, and what it costs – that’s it. If you only have time to jot your answers onto a post-it-note, then let’s start there. If you have time to dig a little deeper, we’ve got you covered.
A well thought out business plan will accomplish a few tasks for you. They present your vision to potential funders. You may also use the plan to attract partners, help to develop your place in the market, appeal to possible employees, and so on. When beginning to research and gather information for your business plan, include these topic areas:
Business Case: Discuss your proposed industry, your product/services, legal entity and business structure, and how you will have sustained success.
Market Strategy: Describe your market segment and explain why your business has a place within it. Tell us about your customers – who are they, where are they, and why they will spend money with you. Who’s your competition and why are you better.
Financials and Budget Narrative: This is where you include a three-year realistic profit and loss statement and balance sheet. Your budget narrative explains how you arrived at your calculations.
Your document should be a manageable read, about 20 pages with an appendix that could include additional documents like leadership vitae’s, workplan, and cashflow. If you still have gas in the tank, you can break our three major sections into greater detail by including: Executive Summary, Business Description, Marketing Plan, Competitive Analysis, and Management/Operations Plan.
If you are unsure as to how much detail to include in your plan, you can think of it this way; it depends on the nature of your business. If you have a simple concept, you may be able to express it in very few words. On the other hand, if you’re proposing a new kind of business or even a new industry, it may require quite a bit of explanation to get the message across. Happy planning!