Using sample business plans and their structure, studying as many business plan examples as you can, will give you a framework for considering your business from every possible angle.
Starting or running your business without a business plan is like a skeleton man!
Using a sample structure will not only highlight any areas you may not have fully considered, it will also give you a good idea of what makes a good business plan and what it shouldn’t.
Importance of your business plan
The importance of your business plan cannot be underestimated as a motivating factor for running or starting your business. As you add information, research and writing to each section, you will find that your commitment continues to grow.
Your business plan should always come with requests for small business loans, and lenders or any kind of angel investor will refuse to consider your business proposal without one.
Lenders and investors need to see your plan in order to satisfy key issues before deciding whether or not to fund them.
Once you start your business, your small business plan will act as a booth on the ground, helping you gauge where you want to go versus where you really are. It will help you take corrective actions as needed.
Sample Business Planning Structure
All plans must include at least some of the components listed below, and perhaps include parts according to industry type.
- Executive Summary
- Company Background
- Product or service overview
- Unique selling proposition and competitive advantage
- Management Market
- Leadership and Management Profile including Professional Skills
- Professional support
- Risk and threat assessment
- Financial forecasts including key assumptions
- Related Appendices
Gathering information for all parts is time consuming and sometimes difficult. The business section of your local library is always a good place to start research. Ask your friendly librarian how to find market research reports and how to review competitors.
If you are not familiar with spreadsheet software, it can represent a significant obstacle to making the necessary financial forecasts. You have 2 choices:
Pay someone to put a part or all of the plan together for you, or make a small investment in some business plan software.
The advantage of using a professional is that you can reap the benefits of their experience in conjunction with a professional experience plan.
The disadvantage is that it is not easy to discriminate, and most importantly, you are not familiar with its contents, as you are not involved in making it. Be sure to learn the content well.
One last tip though, remember that the quality of the information you put into it determines what comes out of it.