The first part of your business plan takes into consideration your target audience, what they expect, and how the product or service you will be providing will meet or exceed their needs and expectations.
The following sections will apply across the board, but keep in mind that if your audience includes investors, venture firms, and or banks, your business plan would be much more detailed. These are ‘bare bones’ guidelines written with the entrepreneur, solo-professional, or small business owner who needs to have a written business plan to serve as a guide or track to run on.
When organizing a business plan, break it down into sections such as:-
1. Business summary – The product or service you will provide. What you will have to offer must be clearly defined. Imagine that a stranger is reading your document. By the end of the first paragraph your reader must clearly understand whether you will be providing products or a service, or a combination of both. Ask yourself:
- What problem will you be solving?
- What is your solution?
- Why should people listen to you? Note: This one can be tricky if you are launching a business that’s new to you. But if you have received specific training, do not be afraid to state that.
2. Market analysis – Research the product or service and how the competitors are doing. Identify the weaknesses in the market and how you can satisfy that need. Include what people are paying for similar products in your market and what you can expect customers to pay.
3. Product positioning – How to make it more prominent compared to your competitors. In your Business Summary you would have stated what product or service you will provide. In this section you will:
- State what you will be selling or what service you will provide
- What are the features, advantages and benefits
- What is your unique selling proposition that will set you apart from the competition?
- If you’re writing your plan after you’ve started your business, do you have testimonials? This would be the place to put them.
4. Market strategy – How are you actually going to market your product or service? For example, if your broad area is Internet Marketing, what will be your niche? Affiliate marketing? A Private Label Rights website, Article Marketing, Blogging, etc. What marketing strategies will you implement? For example, if Blogging – how will you monetize your blog? What methods will you use to market and take it from ‘just a free blog’ to one that makes money?
5. Customer analysis – Look at what the customer wants or needs.
6. Financial analysis – What you need to invest in order to set up the business and keep it going while it is just getting started.
7. Overall business goals – What you hope to achieve in one, two and five years.
Once a business plan has been developed, it should not lay in the back of a drawer or sit in a frame on the wall of your office. Rather, it should be a working plan that you can refer to when you need to.
The best way to make a written business plan is to keep it simple (one or two pages should be all you need). For most entrepreneurs a paragraph for each point should be sufficient to give you clarity and provide a document for you to refer to.
Based on the suggestion of one of my peers, @Melanie Kissell, in the future I will be doing a series of actual examples of the negative impact failure to have a written business plan can have on your business. I may be contacting you! 🙂